Alan Sculley
Special to Lake Tahoe Action

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August 22, 2013
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'We Are Young' fuels fun.'s victory lap

From where Andrew Dost sits, one couldn’t have scripted a much better way to cap off a storybook run behind the album “Some Nights” than this summer’s amphitheater tour.

“This tour is one of the kind of crowning achievements as far as we’re concerned,” Dost said in a recent phone interview. “We’ve been all over the world, but now we’re finally touring in the U.S. and touring these big, giant rooms. They’re going to be a lot of the biggest shows we’ve ever played. And it feels so good to us, like a homecoming and a lap around the country. For somebody that’s been out for a year and a half now (behind “Some Nights”), it feels so good to be able to do this kind of a tour.”

To be sure, the “Some Nights” cycle has been one for the books for fun.

At the start of 2012, fun. was just one of many mainly unknown groups hoping to make a name for itself. The three band members had joined forces in 2008 after stints in other bands that had released albums and toured the country.

Singer Nate Ruess had been in The Format. Drummer/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Dost had been in the group Anathallo, while guitarist Jack Antonoff was in Steel Train. The group debuted in 2010 with the album “Aim & Ignite,” which showed the trio had a talent for writing smart and catchy power pop.

“Aim & Ignite,” though, failed to make much of an impact commercially. But it didn’t take long to know that “Some Nights” was going to be a different story.

The lead single, “We Are Young,” was released ahead of the “Some Nights” album, and it quickly started making waves. The song got an initial boost when it was used on an episode of “Glee,” and then took a dramatic jump up the charts when it was featured in a commercial for the Chevrolet Sonic during the 2012 Super Bowl. On March 7, “We Are Young” reached number one on “Billboard” magazine’s Hot 100 all-genre singles chart.

When the “Some Nights” CD was released just a couple of weeks before “We Are Young” took over the top spot on the Hot 100, the CD debuted at number three on “Billboard’s” album chart with first-week sales of 70,000 copies – only a few thousand shy of “Aim & Ignite’s” sales to that point.

The band’s fortunes continued to grow from there. The song “Some Nights” became the second single and spent seven months on the Hot 100 chart, peaking at number three, while a third single, “Carry On,” went top 10 on “Billboard” magazines Rock Songs, Alternative Songs and Adult Pop songs chart and peaked at number 20 on the Hot 100.

Dost said the band realized that having “We Are Young” top the Hot 100 was a big deal, but it wasn’t until last summer that the group really began to see firsthand signs that the group had entered the mainstream consciousness.

“Summer was right around the time when we would start to play that song (“We Are Young”), and even if it was at a festival, or we were playing a sort of an unfamiliar crowd, we would play ‘We Are Young’ and then maybe ‘Some Nights’ even starting around that time, that would get a few reactions, whether or not they were fans there to see us or not,” Dost said.

The rise of fun. in the music world was capped off this past February when the group won two Grammy Awards – for Best New Artist and Song of the Year (for “We Are Young”). That recognition stands out to Dost as the high point of a memorable year in the life of fun.

“The Grammys sort of cast a shadow over everything else,” Dost said. “Everything has been wonderful, and I don’t want to take anything away from the many, many good things we’ve experienced. But that sort of is just the biggest for me personally. That’s such a high honor to be recognized in that way by my peers. That’s kind of the highest honor a musician can get. So that stands out for me.”

But Dost said there was a moment from the group’s extensive touring that will also symbolize what the “Some Nights” album has done for fun.

“There was a show in Italy. This was actually pretty recent, just maybe two months ago,” he said. “It was just crazy. I got so excited that I smashed my piano bench under my piano and destroyed the piano. The show was so crazy and so out of control and so wonderful, and everybody was singing along and dancing and having such a good time, that I just remember thinking that this is Italy. I’m around the world from where I live, and people know these songs, people care about these songs and people want to be here with us right now. I just remember thinking that is so cool that music can do that, that music had done that for us. You know, Grammys and charts and sales and stuff, all that aside, music bringing people together regardless of the language, the culture or whatever, that was one of my favorite moments of my life.”

The band may not experience that sort of craziness on tour this summer, but Dost said fun. (expanded to a six-piece live) is ready to bring a show that’s big enough to make the amphitheaters rock.

“It’s going to be a pretty revamped version of anything we’ve done, more lights, more instruments, more and bigger because we pride ourselves on being a live band first and foremost,” he said. “We play a lot of music, but we also know that to fill up a bigger space, you need some help. You need some lights. You need some festivity. So we want to bring this sort of big show and that spirit into wherever we are and we also want to bring the club and the small show into those rooms, too.”

After the tour wraps up, the band plans to turn its attention to making its next album. There will be major expectations for the album, but Dost said the band is embracing the challenge.

“Now there’s the pressure of the next album, which is good. We like it,” Dost said. “Whether people are paying attention or not, we’re still going to be writing songs and touring and all of that good stuff. Whether or not we were a one-hit wonder or a one-album wonder, whatever we are or were, we’re going to be around, even if we’re just making records our parents buy.”

The group hasn’t had time to do any real work on the next album.

“We haven’t sat down and fully constructed anything in a way that makes things a fun. song,” Dost said. “It’s just a lot of singing ideas for a song, telling each other about ideas, talking about a lot of instrumental, you know, sonic things we want to bring to the table. It’s been a lot of preliminary kind of things.

“I’m really excited to get ready to go,” he said. “I love writing, especially with Nate and Jack, and that’s the thing we get to do less than anything else, is actually write songs. So I’m excited to do that.”

“I’m around the world from where I live, and people know these songs, people care about these songs and people want to be here with us right now. I just remember thinking that is so cool that music can do that, that music had done that for us.” -Andrew Dost

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Aug 22, 2013 04:08PM Published Aug 23, 2013 06:54PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.