With its wildly successful “We Are Young” single, Fun. made its way to Salt Lake City this weekend to jazz up the audience with crowd pleasers like “All the Pretty Girls” and “One Foot.” Bassist Jack Antonoff took a break to speak with The Daily Universe about what it takes to become successful in the music industry.
DU: What do you think of performing in Salt Lake City?
JA: I’ve been there a lot. I’ve been in bands for 12 years touring. And I don’t know why but Salt Lake has always been one of the places we’ve toured. I’ve played in the Venue a bunch of times and Kilby Court. I love it.
DU: How was it to switch from being the lead singer in Steel Train to being the bass player in Fun.?
JA: It was really cool. It’s almost like different parts of the brain. Part of me enjoyed being the front man and the other likes collaborating. It’s extremely different and fun in different ways.
DU: What was the first instrument you learned to play and what kept you going with music?
JA: I started with guitar. Really, really learning to work makes a big difference.
DU: What is your favorite part of performing live?
JA: Three things make up a great show. The first is good music and a good band. The second is if the audience is great. The third thing is something that you can’t really plan for. The audience and band can create a third party that makes a really great show. Many audiences and bands are striving to have that experience.
DU: How has the dynamics of the band changed since the huge success of the single, “We are Young?”
JA: On one hand, nothing has changed because our day-to-day life is exactly the same. It’s really time-consuming. We have to plan and save our time and still try to connect with people at home. It’s become a stressful thing in its own sense. Nothing has really changed because most people have never heard our songs on the radio, so it’s more for our family to experience. For my family, there’s an intangible difference.
DU: How has your family reacted to all of your success?
JA: They’re cool about it. It’s really fulfilling because in modern music, there’s so many ways to be successful. Now we’re experiencing what everyone views as successful. It’s funny to have that kind of success that everyone understands. Now we’re getting a different group. On one hand it’s nice and on the other, you get a different group. It’s funny. Just odd. All we really care about is that the success we’re having is enabling us to do what we’re doing and work on the music and the crafty show. Now there’s more money to be able to do that. A lot of things can become reality.
DU: Were you surprised by all the recent success?
JA: It was not surprising because we all felt like we were too old for this. We all had record deals at 18 or 19, and we hit a more reality-based career. It’s my hope that our intention for Fun. was not to play in the biggest stadiums but to play in underground shows. It’s become more of something people listen to. We didn’t think we’d have this giant record moment. One of the joys of going off enables you. We had a moment when we all thought we wouldn’t make it.
DU: What was the most challenging aspect of being in Fun.?
JA: Getting it started was challenging. We all came from different bands and wanted to work with Fun. We didn’t have the success we had before. Some of the songs didn’t work out. One plus one plus one doesn’t always equal three. For us, it didn’t. We figured out a way to work together and mix all our skills and personalities to make something great. That was the most challenging and rewarding experience.
DU: What has been the most challenging experience for you in the music business?
JA: I went through a lot early on that wasn’t easy to deal with. Driving a mini-van around the country, never having food, playing awful shows, and I did that for years. My first years were sleeping in my mini-van at gas stations. Then, it was amazing and playing in concerts was all that mattered. It makes me really thrilled that I did it because I couldn’t have done it now. So many things you can do when you’re 17, you can’t do later. I wouldn’t have the perspective now. I’ve seen so many angles of it and it gives me an appreciation for what I have now and what I can learn from not being at the bottom of it.
DU: What is your advice for those trying to make it in the music business?
JA: Start at step one. Go out and play for as many people as possible. Go back to the same cities, make friends. There’s a big precedent because a lot of people can get signed out of nowhere. Real bands can really resonate. The only way to figure that out is to just do it. You can’t fake it. You can’t go to college and get it. You just have to do it and get through that, and hopefully you’ll get in a better place and you’ll learn if you love it or not.