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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bleachers' Jack Antonoff Refuses To Be Apologetic About His Music

The guitarist’s new project is even more epic and emotional than his other band, fun. “God, just shoot me the day I start making music you can just put on in the car and have a conversation over it.”

Carter McElroy

Jack Antonoff is famous now for his work as the guitarist of the platinum-selling, Grammy-winning band fun. and his high-profile relationship with Girls creator Lena Dunham, but he's been working on the margins of the record industry since he was a teenager as the frontman of the New Jersey band Steel Train. He's about to step back into the spotlight this year as the frontman of Bleachers, a new band that takes the big emotions and classic songwriting style of fun. into a more electronic direction.

Bleachers' first single, "I Wanna Get Better," is out now, and their debut album is set to come out sometime later this spring. BuzzFeed caught up with Antonoff to chat about the origin of this new project, his collaboration with synth-pop pioneer Vince Clarke, his suburban roots, and why he works hard to avoid the restrained, uptight sound of contemporary indie rock.

The common thread between Bleachers and fun. is that you're really going all the way, and it's very bombastic and not holding much back. Why do you think other bands back away from that?

I think a lot of people now are inherently apologetic because of the things we grew up with in the '90s, and we saw rock music go from the most beautiful, amazing, culture-changing thing to, like, rap metal. The world of indie and rock music became very apologetic, and no one's trying to be too good and they're always trying to hold it back either with the songs or the production. No one wants to be quote-unquote "obvious." But, like, everyone references Paul Simon, and Fleetwood Mac has become a huge indie reference nowadays, but that's all bullshit because the most important part of that reference is not the dry snare drum, it's the unbelievably classic songs and production.

After rap metal in the late '90s, there was this split of mainstream and indie and rock, like they couldn't coexist. But I grew up when The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam and Nirvana were all mainstream, but they were also really good. I'd much rather be a part of mainstream culture than be a part of my own culture and have it be not…all the way.

I grew up never really being embraced by any scene; I was never in a hip band growing up, though I was touring and touring, and I was always just on the outside. That's how all the guys in fun. were. I'm not tied to anything, I'm just trying to make the best shit, and I don't have to worry about some community of people saying, "You used to be so restrained and cool." But what I think is cool is next-level stuff, not easy listening. God, just shoot me the day I start making music you can just put on in the car and have a conversation over it. That's not what I want to listen to. I want to listen to the stuff that makes me want to cry or have some kind of huge emotion.

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