In the year since the release of their sophomore album, “Some Nights,” the members of the New York pop-rock trio Fun. have had to make many decisions. With six Grammy nominations for an album that spawned the ultra-catchy hit singles “We Are Young,” “Some Nights,” and “Carry On,” singer Nate Ruess, guitarist Jack Antonoff, and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost have conferred on everything from the routing of their sold-out tour to the wardrobe for a recent inaugural ball.
One decision, however, was easy: taking a gig in Cancun at the end of January between Midwest tour dates. “It was the most obvious idea ever,” says Antonoff by phone from sunny Mexico with a chuckle. The trio return stateside shortly to resume their sold-out tour, including a stop at the Orpheum Theatre Friday and a performance at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 10.
Q. How was the inaugural ball? Did you get any face time with the president?
A. We did! We met the president and the first lady, which was a remarkable experience. Meeting the president and playing for the president, especially a president that we really love and are inspired by, that’s like outside of the realm of things you dream about when you’re in a band. You dream about selling out big shows or playing Japan or playing with musicians you love. But playing an inaugural ball for the president? That’s like playing in outer space or something; it just doesn’t add up.
Q. Congratulations on the Grammy nominations. What was it like to get nominated live on TV?
A. It was as magical as a night can get. I think there’s a massive surrealness to being nominated for a Grammy, obviously, and it was compounded by the double surrealness of being [at the nominations concert special]. Sitting there and having Taylor Swift read that you’re nominated for a Grammy and then to have Hunter Hayes sing your song and that’s how you find out you’re nominated, and then you’re rushing backstage to go perform at the ceremony and someone runs up and says, “You guys got nominated for best new artist!” Surreal was just the perfect word. It follows a trend of a lot of things we’ve been through this year, where it’s like a lot of “what the [expletive]?” moments.
Q. Did you secretly look at the categories and your competitors and think, “OK, we’re probably not winning that one, but we might win that one”?
A. It’s a great year for music. We’re up against people like Frank Ocean and Jack White and Mumford and Sons. These are incredible bands and artists, and when you look at it that way it kind of leaves you with this feeling of like “[Expletive]! What a year. What an honor to be making music in a year that feels like things really started to shift again.”
Q. When you reach this kind of plateau, how much do you think about maintaining it?
A. I take a lot of cues from Bruce Springsteen, not just as a wonderful songwriter and performer but how he serves his fan base. He has a quote that rings in my head a lot. He said anyone can get fans, but it’s how you serve your fan base that really determines what kind of artist you are and if you’re going to be able to have a career. And we’ve always put that first. We’re on a tour right now where we’ve put every last resource into the most amazing production and light show and new equipment and working on the set. Everything that we do, part of it is how will the fans react to this? Is this going to alienate them? Is it going to be thrilling or challenging or make them feel weird? And I think if we stay on that path and we [expletive] up, I wouldn’t feel bad because that’s what it’s all about.
Q. How about when it comes to writing and recording? You want to please your fans but you want to follow your own creative path as well, right?
A. The best way to serve our fan base with the music in our opinion is to challenge them. If you really respect your fan base, you’re going to give them the deepest part and the most interesting part and the most intense part. Bands or artists who make the same album as they did the last time are in some sense assuming their fan base is going to be OK with that, and they’re not going to and they shouldn’t be. When you look at bands like Spoon and Wilco and My Morning Jacket who are constantly challenging their fans, these bands are still drawing thousands of people and selling tons of records to their fans because it creates a culture, and the fans are keeping up.
Q. Are there days you regret naming the band Fun.?
A. Never. We love the name and think it’s odd and it’s eerie and it’s confusing and it just leads people to the music; it doesn’t say too much in the name. We don’t love all the billions of puns that people are constantly making, but those are some uptown problems. (Laughs.)