Photo of Jack Antonoff by Dan DeSlover/Variance
It’s been a “Rollercoaster” past year for songwriter-musician-vocalist Jack Antonoff, whose solo project Bleachers released its debut album Strange Desire and spent the past few months crisscrossing the globe on tour.
Once best known as the guitarist for fun., Antonoff says he sees himself living “in Bleachers world for a while,” speaking with Variance between performances.
In the weeks since this conversation, fun. has addressed rumors the group is breaking up and reassured fans the band is still in tact. But Antonoff admits the trio is focused on other things at the moment.
“Bleachers is where my attention has been,” he says. “I just trust that we’ll figure it all out. Things have always been sort of odd and wonderful and crazy more often than not, so I try not to plan too far into the future. If we’re talking about the next six to nine months, this is kind of where I’m at for now.”
Because fun. catapulted into the spotlight back in 2012 with Some Nights, many had expected the band to have a followup ready by now. With the band’s near silence and Antonoff’s Bleachers success, some fans suspected perhaps fun. might be quietly disappearing.
"You can be on the journey with the fans instead of trying to calculate everything.”
“This has always been how we’ve done things,” the musician asserts. “Everything just happens as it happens, and we go with that flow. I don’t know what comes next, but I do know it will still keep morphing and changing. I’m working on more songwriting stuff right now and other stuff on my own and Nate [Ruess] has obviously been doing some of that too. But that’s exciting to me, not knowing everything that comes next. And I think that’s good for the fans too, letting things happen as they should. You can be on the journey with the fans instead of trying to calculate everything.”
In fact, that freedom is reflected in Antonoff’s own journey, as he’s established himself in various film and music circles, having recently written with the likes of Taylor Swift and Grimes.
Photo by Autumn de Wilde
“The real path for me has been not thinking anything is impossible,” he reveals. “If you want to make a cable access show or if you want to make a record or if you want to work on a film score, that’s when good ideas happen. It’s when you’re excited and you truly believe you can do anything. It’s in those moments, you have to just go do them and don’t think about the ‘why not.’ Chase what you’re inspired to do. That’s when it’s honest and real.”
"Don’t think about the ‘why not.’ Chase what you’re inspired to do. That’s when it’s honest and real.”
While he acknowledges he has a lot on his plate right now, he doesn’t see a need to slow down, nor does he intend to. And he has a good reason, considering his track record so far.
“If I had ‘slowed down’ or been careful about not doing too much, I would have never made the Bleachers album,” Antonoff admits candidly. “I just do what I’m compelled to do. And I think if you only do the things your body and mind force you to do, then it just kind of works out. I would be on tour [with fun.] and get back from a show, so I’d be in my hotel room and have an idea for a song. I wouldn’t overthink it, I’d just work on it. If I went back in time and thought out everything I was going to do, I probably would have had a panic attack feeling overwhelmed by it. Because it’s like, ‘OK, I’m going to do this world tour with fun. and make an album all kind of going at once.’ It was crazy but in the moment, it was oddly simple.”
And as he moves forward, it’s that logic he’s taking with him.
“Nobody tells Thom Yorke he can only do Radiohead,” he says. “I’m not saying I’m in that league, but he somehow finds a way to do multiple bands and all these different things. We (fun.) isn’t the first to juggle multiple projects, so I know everything will sort itself out.”
Admitting he’s “already started to think about” the next Bleachers album, Antonoff suggests the immediate plan is simply to tour as much as possible.
“I just want to be on road for a while,” he says. “Just to be able to feel that energy. Everything feels so alive at the moment and I couldn’t have imagined a better series of events, honestly.”
Listen to the How to Dress Well remix of "Rollercoaster" below and see Bleachers' upcoming tour dates here.