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How Queen Hooked Up with Fun. at iHeartRadio

Behind the scenes of the bands' festival collaboration

Fun's Jack Antonoff and Brian May of Queen perform during the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Clear Channel
September 21, 2013 3:20 PM ET

Back at the beginning of the year, as fun. planned their Grammy night performance, they came up with the idea of sharing the stage with their musical heroes, Queen. Unfortunately, Queen guitarist Brian May had knee trouble and was unable to make it at the time. But the fact that Queen was even interested was exciting enough for fun.

"It had been discussed for the Grammys and it didn’t work out, but they had shown interest, which was mind blowing in the first place," fun.’s Jack Antonoff told Rolling Stone backstage at iHeartRadio.

Fun.'s Nate Ruess on His Favorite Songs, From Weezer to Wilco

As the long-planned collaboration was finally about to happen on Friday night, Antonoff and Andrew Dost's sense of wonderment at playing with their idols had not dissipated. "It’s not possible to digest," Antonoff said. "I played Brian May’s guitar at rehearsal, which is the one you saw at Live Aid, the one you saw all on the albums, the one he built with his dad. That’s the guitar and he hands it to me. Playing lead with his guitar tone [was] probably the most surreal experience ever."

Dost concurred that the experience was beyond their wildest dreams. "Rehearsal went really well, it was just neat, surreal obviously, but musically it worked out in a nice way," he said. "I don’t know if we’ll know how to think about it or process it for years down the road."

For Queen, the fact that bands like fun. continue to cite them as an influence is a tremendous source of pride, and they credit Adam Lambert for his role in bringing them into an event dominated by current radio acts.

"It’s just good to be here, it’s good to be a part of what’s happening and this is definitely what’s happening. It’s nice for us to be alive still and still able to do our thing," May told Rolling Stone. "Adam Lambert is a great channel for us. It’s great that we have Adam, because he’s a bridge almost to the new generation and a wonderful performer. It’s fantastic working with him."

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