In 2004, my dad came home from visiting his best friend in Scottsdale, Ariz. and handed me a burned CD in a floppy paper sleeve. “Listen to this,” he said. “I heard them play a concert at the mall, and they were so much fun!” The band was the Format and the album was “Interventions and Lullabies.”
Was this my father talking, or a 15-year-old girl? The sleeve sat on my desk for months before I finally put it into the super sophisticated five-disc CD player that I had bought with my bat mitzvah money three years prior. The first track, aptly titled, “The First Single (Cause A Scene),” was catchy, albeit slightly corny, and the songs that followed were no different. “Give It Up” reached out to anyone anywhere who was graduating from school and leaving town. “So give it up, throw your hats in the air/and change just as they land you’re saying ‘we’ll get out of there’/but something tells me that you’re too scared to go.” When I listen to “Interventions and Lullabies” today, the tracks lead me into a tailspin of sophomoric nostalgia. “Dog Problems” was released as I prepared to leave my parents’ house and head to college in the summer of 2006. Frontmen and BFFs Nate Ruess and Sam Means toured and toured, finally receiving the national attention they deserved for making such honest, earnest and catchy music.
Good ol’ Sam and Nate announced the Format’s hiatus in early 2008, thanking fans for “the best five years of their lives.” Their crushed cult following, wondering when they’d hear that endearingly cartoony voice again, didn’t have to wait too long: Ruess began to work on his new project immediately and resurfaced weeks later with Fun.
Ruess left his past behind him, leaving Airzona in favor of New York City, where he formed Fun. with Andrew Dost of Anathallo and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train. The new band opened for numerous pop-punk bands in its early stages, most notably Paramore on a 2010 tour. A combination of power chords and clear, strong voices made it easy for Fun. to pick up a following along the way.
While the tracks from “Inventions and Lullabies” never had any official music videos of their own, Fun.’s video for the single “We Are Young” featuring Janelle Monae is nearing 9 million views on YouTube. It helps that yes, the guys are “Fueled By Ramen,” they were featured in a Chevrolet Super Bowl commercial and yup, you got it — they were covered by “Glee.” The chorus, hardly original lyrically, is an anthem that differs greatly from the Format’s “let’s sing through this to get through this” attitude. Confidence is key.
“Tonight/we are young/so let’s set the world on fire/we can brighter/than the sun.”
The track is currently No. 1 on the iTunes Singles chart.
A few weeks ago, the Ruess thanked fans on Fun.’s website, exclaiming how he’s “over the moon about what you’re about to hear and falling asleep knowing that as soon as I wake up, this will no longer be a dream.”
Wonder what his best bud Sam has to say about that?
Allison Berger is a Philadelphia-based writer and a pop music columnist for Reverb. Check out more of her writing here.