Last night on Glee, New Directions and the Troubletones celebrated the former’s victory at Sectionals with a rollicking cover of “We Are Young” by buzzy NY-based band fun. (yes, lowercase with a period).
Almost instantly, their version shot to #1 on iTunes — and will likely soon lead viewers to the song’s originators. The New York City trio — Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, and Jack Antonoff — will release its second album, Some Nights, this coming February, and just announced tour dates for 2012 (the band will also be on Last Call with Carson Daly on Thursday, Dec. 8). EW talked with lead singer Ruess about the Glee cover, their sound, and why the band’s name ends in a period.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did the Glee thing happen?
NATE RUESS: I think our label had played it for the head of music over at Glee and I think he responded really well to the song and thought, “It’s not a hit song necessarily yet but it’s a great song for the show.” I think we felt just like, “Right back at ya!”
Did you have any reservations about it?
I was like, Yeah, do it for sure.” We all feel like Glee is such a progressive show. We are insane musical theater fans. It could be the smallest show in the world, but because of a lot of the things it stands for and the message it sends, we had no apprehension about it.
You and your bandmates, Andrew and Jack, were all part of other bands. Did you all know each other before?
We had done a lot of touring together in our past, in our previous bands. Those two dudes were always the dudes I was so impressed by. They were kind of my USA dream team if I ever had the chance to re-draft. So when the opportunity arose, I called them up right away, as soon as I found out my old band was breaking up. Andrew was in Michigan and I was in Phoenix and we flew to New Jersey to meet up with Jack and start working by like the weekend.
How would you guys sum up your sound for new fans?
I think it’s a little tough because until this album with “We are Young” on it, it was a lot more theatrical; it had a Queen type of vibe. On this album we worked with hip-hop producers to come up with something new — almost as if Queen was rushed into the 21st century.
So does that include a fashion update?
Yeah we’re not as glam. I can’t pull off a mustache!
Why did you want to change your sound?
I think it was about trying something new. I became obsessed with hip hop. I thought why not be able to incorporate a lot of those elements into the songs we already had. I thought as a songwriter, too, it was an interesting way of taking a song that has a very Elton John kind of feel and throwing beats on it.
Are there specific artists that inspired you?
I think Kanye West was a big one, his last album, because it also had a theatrical kind of vibe.
Janelle Monae is featured on “We Are Young. How did she get involved?
We were always fans. She knew our producer, and we knew we wanted a female vocalist to sing on that part. He brought it up to her and she listened to the song and I think she was pretty blown away by it and just agreed to do it. We weren’t around when she recorded it, but we like to tell people she recorded on the moon.
Describe the inspiration for “We Are Young.”
The inspirations generally is me feeling sorry for myself. But I like there to be kind of an optimism within me feeling sorry for myself — a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s kind of what the song is about, a night out and an attempt to forget all of your wrongdoings. It’s got kind of an epic feel to it.
Why the period at the end?
Well fun? is even weirder. Fun! feels a little too forceful, and fun without any punctuation was already taken.
Watch the band’s acoustic performance of “We Are Young” featuring Janelle Monae below, and see the piece on the band in the EW on stands this Friday:
Follow Tim on Twitter: @EWTimStack