Many artists spend tour downtime resting or engaging in more debaucherous activities. For fun.'s lead guitarist Jack Antonoff, it was holing up in hotel rooms, recording music for his new project Bleachers.
Bleachers released their first single, "I Wanna Get Better," on Tuesday with an album scheduled to follow this spring. The song bares some similarities to Antonoff's work with fun. – particularly the heavy-hitting pianos, pulsing percussion and grandiose vocals – but the track also finds the guitarist exploring edgier, more exhilarating production and quirkier arrangements.
"I wanted to bridge the gap between Disclosure and Arcade Fire — something both streamlined and organic," Antonoff tells Rolling Stone. "The production and songwriting is extremely over-the-top, extremely epic and unapologetic. The record is all about finding a world where you can be kind to yourself in."
Antonoff sees "I Wanna Get Better" as "the story of my existence so far and a lot of the things I struggled with," including a damaging acid trip and the death of his sister 10 years ago. "A lot of things on the album, including this song, are about loss," Antonoff says. "It feels joyous, but for me it's very desperate."
The guitarist worked on Bleachers with producers John Hill (Jay Z, Phantogram, Shakira) and Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode, Erasure) and aimed to record "massive, beautiful pop songs that sound fuckin' cool."
"It doesn't have to be one or the other," says Antonoff. "You don't have to [make] big pop songs that sound stupid and you don't have to make these fuckin' apologetic, tired droney songs that sound incredible. I really wanted both things to happen."
Bleachers already have a handful of live dates slated for the spring, including performances at SXSW and Governor's Ball in New York City alongside a performance on Late Night with Seth Meyers on March 26th. (Check out a full list of tour dates below.)
"I see the live show like an E Street Band with synths," says Antonoff. "Everyone will probably have synths and live drums and I want it to be a playground of all those things. The media jerk reaction is 'It's just a side project.' One of the quickest ways to get rid of that is to go out and tour. I didn't make the album so i could put it out and forget about it. It's just the beginning."
As for fun., while the group hasn't released any new music since their 2012 breakout Some Nights – save for "Sight of the Sun," which appeared on the Girls – Volume 1 soundtrack – the band has kept busy, teaming up with musical heroes Queen at the iHeartRadio Festival last September and releasing a free live EP Before Shane Went to Bangkok: fun. Live in the USA in December. Asked if the band is working on new material, Antonoff says, "We will soon. We're kind of just starting to talk about getting back in gear."
Bleachers' Tour Dates
4/12 Austin, TX (SXSW) – Palladia's EPIC. AWESOME. SHOWCASE
4/13 Austin, TX (SXSW) – 2014 mtvU Woodie Awards and Festival
4/19 Los Angeles, CA – The Troubadour
3/27 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
6/6 - 6/8 New York, NY – Governor's Ball
6/19 - 6/22 Dover, DE – Firefly Music Festival
7/5 - 7/6 London and Birmingham, UK – Wireless Festival
7/10 - 7/12 Bilbao, Spain – Bilbao BBK Live Festival
Additional reporting by Patrick Doyle