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Interview: fun.’s Andrew Dost Discusses The Making of Some Nights

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On Tuesday, February 21, indie pop band fun. is set to release their long-awaited new album, Some Nights, on Fueled By Ramen Records. The album includes the band’s smash lead single, “We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe).”

Andrew Dost, Nate Ruess, Jack Antonoff of fun. credit: Lindsey ByrnesI recently had the opportunity to speak with fun.’s Andrew Dost, where he discussed the differences between recording Some Nights versus 2009′s Aim and Ignite, working with hip-hop producer Jeff Bhasker, and the Glee-ful cover of “We Are Young.”

Congratulations on the new record. I had an opportunity to listen to it this week, and I think it’s fantastic.

Oh, thank you so much.

Can you tell me a little bit about the creative process for the new record?

Well, we started out by taking a week in upstate New York in Woodstock. We just stayed in a cabin/studio. We worked on [the record] for that week, and started to structure out a few songs. Eventually, we had enough songs to start showing to our label and our manager.

So basically, our singer Nate is responsible for the lyrics and I would say a vast majority of the melodies. Usually, he’ll come in with a sketch of a song. And then Jack and I will take that and we’ll structure the music around that altogether. Nate doesn’t play any instruments, but when we get together, we’re all just throwing ideas in and we might be the ones playing the instruments, but Nate’s driving ideas to the pot, too. So we all just kind of go through the songs as a group, see what ideas we like, and kind of work through them altogether. But usually it starts with a sketch from Nate. Sometimes it starts with chords from Jack or I. But we all just get together, we throw all our ideas together and see what sticks.

Was this process different than how you guys approached making Aim and Ignite?

With the last album, I didn’t really know Jack that well. I did a little bit, but not nearly as well as I do now after having spent a few years traveling and hanging with him. For the first album, when we were writing it, a lot of it was about just kind of figuring out how we write together, how we work together, and even like figuring out kind of a language with each other in terms of what I call a “phrase,” Nate calls a “measure.” Just things like that. Figuring out how to talk to each other, so the first album was a lot of that.

With this album, we know how we communicate, we know that we trust each other and like each other’s styles. It was less about feeling each other out and more about just creating, which I think is really nice, because we didn’t really have to worry about anything. It was a lot more fun and a lot more free. So that was the difference in writing process.

With the recording process, the first album we stayed in the studio for like two months and didn’t really leave. We just holed up there and that was that. We just stayed until it was done. And I think a lot of things go along with that. It’s nice to be in a creative world that’s kind of isolated, but you can get led astray down some pathway while you’re recording that you might not like later. And there’s a lot of time to get in your own head and stay there.

And with this album, we kind of jumped around the country. We were in L.A., we were in New York; we were recording in different studios at the same time. Like, I would be working on arrangement stuff while Jack was laying down some guitar in a different studio. And at the very end of the week we would smash it all together and see how everybody had done. And I think that is a very good way to work. You don’t get stuck in any universe too long, and you can kind of get a little perspective constantly. I think motion is very helpful, too. I think a lot of nice things happen when you’re driving, or when you’re on a plane, or whatever. There’s a certain freedom that comes along with motion.

There’s a definite influx of hip-hop on this record, and I was wondering if that was a conscious decision on your guys’ part or did it happen organically?

It started very organically. What started it all was the Kanye album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. We started listening to that and just fell in love with it, fell in love with his production style. For me personally more than anything else, listening to that album really blew my mind as far as a) the sounds he was using and b) just for the attention it demands and for how big of a statement it is. And it really renewed my faith that you can make a big, grand artistic statement, and you can care. You can care so much about your art, and it can come through and that’s okay. So that was how it inspired me, and I think it [inspired] the other guys in different ways, too. We just started working that in gradually.

About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is an Entertainment Writer/Blogger from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has interviewed a variety of people from across the entertainment spectrum, including singer-songwriter/Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, fun.'s Andrew Dost, singer-songwriter Christina Perri, American Idol winners (David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze & Scotty McCreery) and acclaimed writer-director Derek Cianfrance. Connect with Kirsten on Twitter & Facebook.