Over the past year, Jack Antonoff — lead guitarist for the Grammy-winning band fun. — has turned his side project Bleachers into a full-time gig.
Antonoff penned a number of songs while touring with fun. and last summer recorded and released Bleachers’ debut album, Strange Desire. It is the rare rock record that’s an appropriate soundtrack for summer cookouts as well as personal moments of crisis. It’s got sweeping, Springsteen-styled numbers, anthemic singles like “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster” and synthesizer-based ballads to boot.
Isthmus recently spoke with Antonoff in advance of Bleachers’ March 31 concert at the Majestic Theatre, a can’t-miss event for anyone who loves pop music and pick-me-ups.
How does touring as Bleachers compare with your last world tour with fun.?
Literally my body is doing the same thing — I’m on the plane, I’m on the bus, I’m playing the show, I’m at the hotel — but any different band is a totally different culture. It’s like being on another planet.
You wrote Strange Desire while on the road with fun. What was the album creation process like?
It was over a long period of time. “You’re Still a Mystery” was written and recorded two months before the album came out, but “Rollercoaster” two years before. Songs like “Wild Heart” and “Shadow” were tweaked over a really, really long period of time. And I like that, because if I do a vocal take on top of a vocal that I recorded a year ago, that’s a really cool experience — almost like a diary…. It was just constantly working, tightening songs and trying new ideas.
Strange Desire sounds huge. Why did you go after such a big sound?
I grew up in the ’90s, and that was a time when music was big and unashamed. You could just go for it. I’m also from New Jersey and there’s a sound to New Jersey that’s very hopeful, and it can be aggressive and anthemic. It’s just part of who I am — this mixture of being from New Jersey, loving the ’90s, loving a lot of ’80s music. I just sort of put that all together and add my own experience to it.
You’ve recently co-written songs with Sara Bareilles, Taylor Swift and Grimes. Do you enjoy collaborating with artists?
I love it. You not only learn about other artists, but you learn about yourself, too. It’s an opportunity to become a better writer. When I was younger, I never had anyone to work with and I never got to collaborate.
What’s been the most rewarding aspect of Bleachers?
Everyone who listens to the record, and me hearing their reactions to it — that’s always the most rewarding part. I was on the other side of it when I was younger. I would drive and listen to records and it meant the world to me. I could survive because of an LP. It’s all a part of that continuum.