Interviews anglais

NATE RUESS (13/04/15)

Version française

Early April, RockUrLife had the chance to meet Nate Ruess in a beautiful parisian hotel and talked with him about psychology, way of life and his new project. A funny and good rendez-vous that announces nothing but good things for his solo album “Grand Romantic”.

Hi Nate! How are you today in this great parisian hotel with this beautiful sun?

Nate Ruess: The sun is shinning so it’s nice. I’ve been lucky: i’ve been in L.A. the last few months (I live in New York but i was in L.A. for the album) so the sun is nothing new to me.

Do you remember the last time you were in Paris?

N: Yeah! It was for the Muse show at the Stade de France.

Was it a great show for you?

Absolutly! We played the first night if i remember well.

How long have you been here?

N: I’m here since yesterday and i’m going to stay here just for the day. After the promo, i’m going to the studio. It’s kind of a bummer because i love being here.

And we love having you in Paris.

N: Thank you! Every time I come to Paris, I always start to like look up for like appartments for rent or houses for sale. I’ve just been like “oh I could leave the States behind and live in Paris”!


N: Yes but i’ve got to learn French before i fully commit! I’ve talked about that to my girlfriend. She comes to Paris frequently too so we’re both like “it could be so awesome to be here, to be in Paris instead”.

Here in France, people just dream about leaving the country and go to the US.

N: It’s the dream? Well, it’s okay but I think, that’s the case of anywhere. I remember when I first started touring, I only think about live in this area and I was always so scared to go out. But the more you see other things, the more you want to be there. Even in the worst place of the United States – I’ve been making music and touring for now 15 years – I’ve probably been there 15 to 20 times and i’m always “yeah, i like it, i like it” but it’s the worst place. (laughs)

So, It appears that for the first time, you’re here all by yourself.

N: Yes!

How do you feel?

N: It feels great. I feel fantastic. I’ve got a bunch of sleep last. I’ve got my engineer – the one who’s recording everything – with me now and we’re finishing touchs on the album as we speak. I’m going to the studio tonight and we will send it off to the producers in L.A.. It’s cool what technology let you make an album anywhere in the world.

Is the studio in Paris? So there will be a parisian touch in the album. 

N: I agreed! I thought about that too. I’m just excited to say like “have this recorded in Paris” and stuff like that. I’m inspiring and the sun is shinning so I have no choice.

And in Paris, there is love.

N: There is love, indeed.

What’s the story behind the title “Grand Romantic”?

N: As you said, it’s love but I guess it’s the understanding that I was thinking to myself as soon as I was off the tour after 3 or 4 years of being on the road for the last [fun.] album. I wasn’t sad and I wasn’t happy and I’ve been that way for a while, just that kind of moving along. And them, I started to fall in love, when you kinda meet someone and you don’t know if they like you or not.

A stressful situation.

N: Exactly! So I was like a fucking wreck like checking my phone constantly and at the same time I just started writing music again and I didn’t know if it rather was good or bad. There was something special happening in my life.

In your album title, you put on purpose a french reference? 

N: I guess so! And I do make a reference to Paris in one song that you haven’t heard yet.

What song?

N: It’s called “Brightside”. And I just make mention of the Louvre and the fact of being in love. That’s “Grand Romantic” to me.

Are you this “Grand Romantic”?

N: It’s my attempt to bring that back into my life and actually start to feel it again. People think that love could be so taboo. I was looking at the songs I had written in the past on the radio and they were a little bit depressing. I’m a depressed person but I really want an opportunity with this album to write a song like “Nothing Without Love” who talks about the wonders of being in love and the positivity involved. I became a happier person.

Everyone on Earth is depressed whatever happens and still looking for happiness while happiness is to be alive. Isn’t that crazy?

N: Absolutly. It is to live but to me it is to live with directions.

Are you afraid of being lost musically and in general? 

N : Absolutely too. But I quite enjoy being depressed. I wanna be depressed or I want to be happy. I don’t wanna be in the middle and that’s what “Grand Romantic” feels like to me. I felt so much heartaches early on in my life that I found ways within myself to just block it all out. Even with all the accomplishments of the last album, I found ways just to kinda be “yeah, ok, cool.”. Right after that, I started to feel something for someone and suddendly the highs were back, the lows were back and I wanna do explore that in the context of an album.

In a recent “Rolling Stone” interview, you said that with this project “this is the first time you’ve been comfortable with your own skin and it’s with someone’s who’s comfortable in their own skin. The reason you’re making a solo album is because it’s the first time”. Does that mean that, before today, you were stuck in a sort of character, a person that wasn’t really you?

N: That’s a really, really great question!

Because when you did interviews for fun., you did not seem really sad or depressed.

N: Trust me, i’ve been happy, i’ve been sad, but when you’re making a solo album, no matter how much you write the songs. It really feels like me, I have no choice but to be myself. In fun., I was in a group and you have to be sensitive with other people’s feelings.You’re constantly influenced and what you do during the days is based on what someone else wants to do. You have to be a little more selfless. I accomplished so much and I’m so proud of what we accomplished so far. And truth be told, if it all ends tomorrow, i’d feel great. I don’t have anything to prove. And it’s an amazing feeling just to be sitting here and just thinking like no matter what happens as far as music is concerned. As long as I’ll have an opportunity to create in the way I want to create and talk about it the way that I want to talk about it.

Your project sounds like a therapy.

N: Well, making music is always a therapy for me.



With a sense of humour, we can say that, thanks to your project, “at least, you’re not as sad as you used to be”?

N: “At least, I’m not as sad as I used to be”, yes. Which is funny, because I was. Now, I definitely feel sad but when I do, it feels good to feel sad. It all gets better and I’m much more willing at this point. It’s so easy to be stuck in the middle and I can do it better than anyone: I can sit here and answer every single questions. I believe that I can answer to them decently with some thoughts. Just to converse at this point in life, it feels great. Talk. You know, there is time that I just wanted to shut up and that’s sort of fine but I found myself just to be like a happier person who likes talking. I’m usually an anti-social.


N: Yes! I don’t particularly enjoy being with someone else but it depends of the relationship. But I woke up this morning and (laughs) I was exciting for the day, a smile on my face. It’s though when you’re happy to talk about it because after, people are like “I wonder if he’s really happy or he’s just talking about it”. That’s what i’ve been doing for years.

In connection with the past, it seems that this project still links you with the fun. universe: you are working with Jeff Bhasker & Emile Haynie, producers who had an impact on “Some Nights”, the label Fueled By Ramen, Anthony Mandler who did the video of “Some Nights”, “Carry On” and more recently “Nothing Without Love”. Why did you keep all these people involved? A radical change or a radical break from fun. did not came to your mind?

N: At the beginning, there were just me, Jeff and Emile when we started working on “Some Nights”. So we just had an amazing relationship and I think it carried over to the Pink song and it carried over to the Eminem song. There is a correlation between this album, the last fun. album and the stuff in between. Actually, “Grand Romantic” feels like a “solo” album but…

Not like a “break” album, right?

N: Yes. In a lot of ways, it was the more collaborative than I’ve ever made. At this point of working with each other, it’s amazing. If anyone got to see us in the studio, he will see that we’re having an amazing time. They are working – even if I don’t like to say it that way but I don’t have better words – for kind of my artistic vision and they have always been my biggest fans. It’s just crazy to get that opportunity to work with that kind of guys. Sometimes, we fought with the best of them but we’re always having a great time.

Have you got some anecdotes about the studio and the recording sessions?

N: Honestly, going to the studio with them. I missed them. I don’t do facetime, I don’t talk on the phone and any of that stuff but I found myself facetiming Jeff all the time even here and now, just to talk about the things we have to finish for the album and be like “so what’s going on over there”. Jeff and I, specifically on the first night we recorded “We Are Young”, we felt like there is a very special artistic link. And every song I play him is “the best song he’s ever heard”. It’s the guy who did “Uptown Funk”. He’s done Kanye West, all these amazing things and we’ll always be like “Nate is my absolute favorite songwritter”. We always had this amazing artistic relationship and every song we worked on together is his favorite. We both in our life have felt a lot of struggle weither be with acceptance or anything like that so I think that on this album, I love him as a person even more as an artist. And I think he can say the same for me and I was always so reserved.

It’s more than music.

N: It is more than music, without a doubt. And you have to. I know that from making the fun. album: you have to have a connection with someone, even when you are making your own album and it’s funny to say that it’s the more collaborative than anything I’ve done. Usually, I come with a melody and an idea of what the song’s gonna be and with Emile we work on it from there. But Emile could have an instrumental without melody and I just have to sing on that… it’s beautiful! It’s not really really “solo”.

We mean a collaborative project about you.

N: It’ll always be about me, i’m a narcissistic. (laughs) It’s exactly what I needed at the time. A band can be an amazing thing and I’ve been lucky to have for all my life an amazing band with talented people. But everybody has a personality, desires and wants. Producers don’t necessarily operate like that I kinda got to dictate the schedule, when we work, when we will do this and that… and I’ve got to bring a piece of my sanity in the process. Emotionally, I was feeling as much as I ever could, as high and as low – being careful to not be stuck in the middle. So we recorded in each other houses, fun times and barbecues… Some friends went and we were like “hey, come and sing some gang vocals”

Let’s talk about “Nothing Without Love”, the first revealed track of “Grand Romantic”. At first, it’s was supposed to be a fun. song.

N: Yes, that’s true.

So how did this demo change into this song?

N: I was trying to write the next fun. album and I had this song I was obsessed with it. I didn’t know what it was gonna sound. I’m a big fan of Irish music and Van Morrison so I wanted to go to Ireland and start to get inspired by music – this is at the same time that I was just also falling in love. And I ended up being way to obsessed with this all love thing and my time in Ireland. I didn’t have written anything but I had that song when I was in my shower. In my shouder, I heard “Nothing Without Love” so I started to sing, I jumped out of the shower and sang it to my phone. I wrote an email to Jeff in capital letters with “YOU MUST RECORD THIS SONG”. After that, I didn’t really think about it and Jeff and I were talking on the phone and he was gonna be in New York, at Emile studio and I was going to New York to visit this girl. So I flew back to Ireland and I was like “oh sh*t, i’m supposed to go to the studio today, but I don’t know what i’m going to record”. Then I looked through my phone and I found this recording, listened to it and was like “oh my god, it’s amazing”. Then, Jeff and I sat together – like when I’ve first done “We Are Young”, no one in the band have even heard the song – and I sang him “Nothing Without Love” while no one have even heard it.

Not even your girlfriend?

N: No. She wasn’t even my girlfriend at the time, I was so scared to death! I would not be so bold as to play her that. So, I played Jeff the song and he just freaked out and started to do the all entire song. It was exactly like with “We Are Young”. But when we finished “Nothing Without Love”, it felt complete, with no need of a band playing on top of it. It felt like the song and it would have been strange to start involving people more and more. By the way, I’m still obsessed with this song.

To conclude, our traditional question: our website is called “RockUrLife” so what rocks you life, Nate?

N: What rocks my life? So much stuff rocks my life. Rock music rocks my life. Listening to music while I’m running. There is a canadian band called Fucked Up and it’s pretty much with a lot a screaming and I listen to that every single day when I run. And when you finish running, you feel like ready for anything. So you would say “listening to Fucked Up while running”. which is like two opposite things: you’re usually fucked up so you can’t run.

Good answer and thank you Nate!

N: Thank you.