It's half past ten on a Saturday night and I'm sitting outside with Nate Ruess from Fun. They've just played their first ever Scottish show, in front of a sizeable crowd in the Art School as part of Stag & Dagger. Their infectious and extravagant pop sounds less polished live, but their energy and presence creates something equally captivating.
Their record is so full of gems that they leave incredible songs like Be Calm and The Gambler off tonight's set list. Obviously I had a word with Nate about this, and am fully expecting to see Fun back before the end of the year to satisfy my demands.
If you're familiar with Nate's old band – The Format – you'll know the boy can seriously sing. His main comrades in Fun are Andrew Dost (ex-Anathallo) and Jack Antonoff (Steel Train), although the live band amounts to six.
Their debut record Aim & Ignite is released in the UK on 7 June. If you're impatient, though, it is already out Stateside and is already on Spotify too. It's pretty awesome.
How would you describe Fun?
Nate: To me it's just pop music. There's a lot to it from a recording stand point, but I think when you break it down, we're just writing pop songs, like in the 60s, 70s sense. Or even the 80s. We strive for a chorus, and we hope the songs are catchy and yet we want them to be meaningful if the listener decides...
Why did you decide on the name, Fun?
Nate: Because ice cream was a stupid name.
Well, it's probably more Google friendly than Fun, although I think your SEO isn't too bad.
Nate: I hope so. I haven't Googled myself recently.
This is your first time in Scotland. Have you had a chance to explore?
Nate: Not really, we've just been within a half mile. And we're all so jetlagged that we pretty much slept the ride from Liverpool to Glasgow. Which is sad because I think that we all appreciate where we're going, I think there just comes a point where we all just shut down.
We're going to a movie after this. I would like to enjoy Scotland, but I suppose we see a cinema as an opportunity to take a breath. I always like to assume that I'll be back wherever it is that we are.
Well, I hope you'll be back soon.
Nate: I hope so too. I'm going to have haggis that time.
I've never had haggis.
Because it's gross!
Nate: The concept is disgusting, but if everyone's eating it, there has to be something to it.
No no no. I suppose I have a problem with the concept of foods. I liked cheesecake until I found out it had cheese in it.
Nate: I know. It took a little getting used to, and then cheesecake became my favourite dessert. So I'm sure haggis, cooked in a sheep's belly... I'll find a way to rationalise it.
I'm sure you could get some tonight if you wanted. Loads of wee places sell it.
Nate: Oh, I feel like it's everywhere, but I've taken my tour of Scotland with the nachos. A real traditional Scottish meal.
You've just come off tour with Paramore and Relient K in the States. How was that?
Nate: It was wonderful. It was the biggest tour that we've ever done and I felt like we did a really great job of being ourselves up on stage, and getting whatever it is that our message is across. But furthermore I think that both bands were just great tour mates and I think we all left the tour being like, this was too short of a tour, and hopefully let's try and make more dates out of it in the future.
You play with a lot of bands that don't really fit together with Fun musically. Do you ever find it difficult to connect with crowds?
Nate: No. We play for so many different crowds, whether it's hipsters in New York or Brooklyn, or scene kids across the United States. We've always told ourselves, let's not cater to anybody, let's just be ourselves. There's something very rewarding about that, when you have a show and it's successful no matter who you're playing for.
What's been your best show to date?
Nate: We had a show in Phoenix where I'm from, with Jack's Mannequin. It was a big show, and it just felt like it was our show even though we were opening up for them. From my old band I'm so used to having a certain level of success in that area of the United States, and that was the first time that it really didn't feel like anything had changed.
How different is it being in Fun compared to being in The Format?
Nate: Well it's a different group of people. I think that Fun has achieved in some regards a lot more than The Format has, but I'm so proud of what we had done in The Format. We didn't have anything – I guess all we had was a touring fanbase in the United States and we made the most of it. We're still working towards that in Fun, and with The Format it was really all that we ever had. That's all I really end up caring about at the end of the day anyway.
Is the creative process quite different?
Nate: It can be. It really depends. I mean, now there's two instead of one, so the two might feel the need to speak up, I guess, a little bit more in the creative process. And they're both just so talented that they can be let loose on any part of any song and figure it out. Whereas The Format was just, two of us who had grown up together with an assumption that we would be able to make it through, but I think it took a lot more work for The Format than sometimes it does for Fun.
When me and Jack and Andrew get together, I don't think it's that we progress as a band - I think that we progress as individuals, get together, and try to figure it out from that. We don't necessarily see eye to eye on that many things, but it works in a way that we can respect each other.
If you could recruit anyone from any band to join yours or be involved in some kind of project with, who would it be?
Nate: Well, I'm a singer, so I can't make myself obsolete... I think from a technical stand point, I'd always had my eye on Andrew and Jack. They were always the two guys. Andrew is my favourite person when it comes to composing harmonies or playing piano, and I think Jack is my favourite person when it comes to guitar, or even dissecting a song and constructing a beat. So I'm not even bullshitting, those are the two guys I'd work with, because I know how good they are.
So not even someone for a token guitar solo in a single or something?
Nate: Well, Jack would be the guy to play that guitar solo - that's the thing!
What singers do you look up to?
Nate: Otis Redding, Freddie Mercury, Eddie Vedder, Adam Duritz from the Counting Crows and Van Morrison. Just soulful singers that, well, none of them really adhere to the structure of the song, which is something that I'm trying not to do.
What's next after the rest of these UK dates?
Nate: We've been touring for the last four months, so we're hoping to go home and sleep for a little bit.
What do you miss most about home?
Nate: I don't know. I really don't remember. My home situation is so... it doesn't make very much sense anyway, so sometimes it makes more sense to be on tour. I guess I miss having a day off. Just time to do whatever I want. But otherwise I'm just as content being on the road.
Lastly, what's the most FUN you've ever had?
Nate: Probably involves dancing, but without me realising that I'm dancing. If that makes sense.
Listen to Aim & Ignite now on Spotify
Fun on MySpace
Fun on Twitter
P.S. Remember the CD is out on 7 June :)