Hardly any good ever comes from a band break-up. McCartney and Lennon apart never reached the same songwriting heights that they did together. When Diana Ross went solo, a member of The Supremes died. And Billy Corgan is hardly worth a mention without the original Smashing Pumpkins’ lineup.
Thursday at 8 p.m.
The Blind Pig
Nate Ruess defied the odds of a floundering career after his former band, indie-pop outfit The Format, split in February 2008 at the pinnacle of its creative, commercial and critical success.
He didn’t waste much time starting a new project as he gathered musicians from Steel Train and Anathallo to form a three-piece with a name that, despite its brevity, reads like a lighthearted mission statement. The band, “fun.,” jumped into the studio to record Aim and Ignite, a collection of danceable yet thought-provoking pop songs, in August 2008.
Since then the band has seen a whirlwind of online promotion, touring, year-end list nods and a win at the Independent Music Awards — a contest judged by some of the industry’s most respected names, including Tom Waits, Mark Hoppus and M. Ward.
For Ruess, the lead singer of fun., the award for Best Pop/Rock Song was both unexpected and humbling.
“I truthfully didn’t know what (the award) was,” he said. “But I think that it’s a really cool thing (especially) when I heard about the people that were on the panel. It was exciting to actually win an award. I don’t know if we deserved it, but I’ll take it.”
This success didn’t happen in a vacuum, however, as Ruess used a change in scenery to motivate himself before he started with his new creative endeavor.
“I moved to New York because I was kind of tired of Arizona,” he explained, adding that he was “so used to being in Arizona that it made me a little complacent sometimes in my writing, whereas New York felt like a different energy.”
The fruits of this fresh, lively spirit can be heard throughout Aim and Ignite. Fusing an element of Broadway show tunes with exuberant guitar and drum parts, the record will make you feel like you’re floating on air. Ruess’s sincere yet snarky lyrics add an emotional pull without being too serious, contributing to the album’s overall feel-good vibe.
Still, in the 21st century it doesn’t matter how unique or exceptional your product is — getting it out to listeners is always a daunting challenge.
Releasing its first single through Facebook, streaming the full album on MySpace, creating a free iPhone app and liberally using Twitter, the band was able to put its music into people’s homes and heads without breaking the bank.
“The Internet definitely helps with (promotion),” Ruess said. “I think we’re working at a really great pace and we’re working at a very affordable pace for ourselves.”
Online promotion is not the only answer for taking a band to the next level. The band apparently understands the importance of touring, as Ruess and Co. will be on the road until mid-May.
Their itinerary is filled with opening dates for pop-rock powerhouses like Motion City Soundtrack and Jack’s Mannequin and a lone headlining show in Ann Arbor this Thursday.
Ruess admits headlining is the ideal situation for fun.’s live show.
“You want to be able to play your full-on set,” he said. “You want to know that the crowd is there for you.”
While admitting that opening for bands is the “smart” thing to do, Ruess said, “It’s going to be nice to get away and be able to do our show, especially at a place as cool as the Blind Pig,” citing the club as one of his favorite venues (Ruess has performed twice there with The Format).
With this rare headlining date, an opportunity is presented for band and audience alike to rock out, hop around and, quite simply, to have fun.