Nate Ruess

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Nate Ruess
Ruess at Radio Interview.jpg
Ruess at a radio show in August 2012
Background information
Birth nameNathaniel Joseph Ruess [1]
Born (1982-02-26) February 26, 1982 (age 37)
Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.
Origin Glendale, Arizona, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
Years active2002–present
Labels Fueled by Ramen
Associated acts The Format, fun.

Nathaniel Joseph Ruess (born February 26, 1982) is an American singer-songwriter. He is the lead singer of the indie pop band Fun, and previously of The Format. [2] As of 2015, he also performs as a solo musician. [3]

Indie pop is a music genre and subculture that combines guitar pop with DIY ethic in opposition to the style and tone of mainstream pop music. It originated from British post-punk in the late 1970s and subsequently generated a thriving fanzine, label, and club and gig circuit. Compared to its counterpart, indie rock, the genre is more melodic, less abrasive, and relatively angst-free. In later years, the definition of indie pop has bifurcated to also mean bands from unrelated DIY scenes/movements with pop leanings. Subgenres include chamber pop and twee pop.

Fun (band) American indie rock band

Fun is an American indie pop group based in New York City. The band was formed by Nate Ruess, with Andrew Dost, and Jack Antonoff. To date, Fun has released two albums: Aim and Ignite in August 2009 and Some Nights in February 2012.

The Format American indie rock band

The Format was an American indie rock band formed by Nate Ruess and Sam Means. The band announced a hiatus on February 4, 2008. Their style can be considered a mixture of indie, alternative, punk and folk music, with elements of 1960s and 1970s pop music. Though Means and Ruess were the foremost members of the band, they have played, toured, and recorded with Mike Schey, Mark Buzard, Don Raymond, and for the DVD recording and summer 2007 tour, The Honorary Title's drummer Adam Boyd. The Format chose their name to make fun of the music industry's inclination towards a cookie-cutter "format" for a hit.


Early life

Ruess was born on February 26, 1982, [4] in Iowa City, Iowa to Larry Ruess and Bess Zinger. [5] He is the younger of two children, having one sister named Elizabeth. [6] His uncle, John Ruess, was a performer on Broadway and served as an influence for Ruess' musical ventures. [7]

Iowa City, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

Iowa City is a city in Johnson County, Iowa, United States. It is the home of the University of Iowa and county seat of Johnson County, at the center of the Iowa City Metropolitan Statistical Area. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population at 76,290 in 2018, making it the state's fifth-largest city. The metropolitan area, which encompasses Johnson and Washington counties, has a population of over 171,000.

In 1986, his family moved to a farm in Glendale, Arizona due to repeated bouts of pneumonia Ruess faced as a child. [8] Ruess' pneumonia and the move are referenced in the lyrics of the fun. song "The Gambler." Ruess remained in Arizona throughout his childhood and attended Deer Valley High School, graduating in 2000. [9] During his time in school, Ruess played in punk bands and upon graduation chose to pursue music professionally. In an interview with American Songwriter Ruess states, "I'm not one to take lessons, so I decided that the only way I was going to learn how to sing, if what they were saying was true, was to go in my car and put on any sort of music from a vocalist that might be really hard to mimic, turn it on as loud as possible and try to hit all those notes". [10] He took a job in a law firm as a way to support himself while he pursued his musical ambitions. [11]

Glendale, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Glendale is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, located about nine miles (14 km) northwest from Downtown Phoenix. According to the 2017 U.S. Census estimates, the population of the city is 246,709.

Pneumonia Infection of the lungs

Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung affecting primarily the small air sacs known as alveoli. Typically symptoms include some combination of productive or dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Severity is variable.

Deer Valley High School (Arizona) High school in Glendale, Arizona

Deer Valley High School is a public high school located in Glendale, Arizona, part of the Deer Valley Unified School District. The school opened its doors in 1980 with an initial enrollment of 750 students. Today, the campus is housed on more than 60 acres (240,000 m2) with a current enrollment of about 1,900 students. Deer Valley High School has been recognized for student achievements in a range of academics and athletics. The school is run by over 100 teachers, five counselors, one psychologist, four administrators, and numerous other support staff with Kim Crooks as the current principal. The 2011 renovation was the first major renovations to the school since its 1980 construction.

In 2002, at the age of 20, he launched the band The Format with his longtime best friend, Sam Means. The Format was his first musical endeavor to gain widespread attention.

Sam Means is an American singer, songwriter and musician, previously songwriter of indie pop band The Format.



After forming in 2002, [12] The Format released a five-song EP, titled EP , which generated local interest and led to the band being signed to Elektra Records in 2002. They released their first studio album, Interventions + Lullabies , on October 21, 2003, leading to more local mainstream success. The band's fanbase began to grow, and the Format released their second EP, Snails , with Atlantic Records in April 2005. However, while working on their second album, Dog Problems , they were dropped from Atlantic. They eventually created their own label, The Vanity Label, and released the album on July 10, 2006. On February 4, 2008, Ruess announced through the band's blog that the Format would not be making another album.

Elektra Records American record label

Elektra Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group, founded in 1950 by Jac Holzman and Paul Rickolt. It played an important role in the development of contemporary folk music and rock music between the 1950s and 1970s. In 2004, it was consolidated into WMG's Atlantic Records Group. After five years of dormancy, the label was revived as an imprint of Atlantic in 2009. As of October 2018, Elektra was detached from the Atlantic Records umbrella and reorganized into Elektra Music Group, once again operating as an independently managed frontline label of Warner Music.

<i>Interventions + Lullabies</i> 2003 studio album by The Format

Interventions + Lullabies is the first album and second release by American rock band The Format. Produced and recorded by R. Walt Vincent, it was released on October 21, 2003 on Elektra Records. While the album is considered to be quite radio friendly, it did not produce any hit singles. This is possibly due to the absorption of Elektra Records into Warner Bros. Records and Atlantic Records shortly after the album's release.

Atlantic Records American record label

Atlantic Recording Corporation is an American record label founded in October 1947 by Ahmet Ertegün and Herb Abramson. Over its first 20 years of operation, Atlantic earned a reputation as one of the most important American labels, specializing in jazz, R&B, and soul by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Ruth Brown and Otis Redding. Its position was greatly improved by its distribution deal with Stax. In 1967, Atlantic became a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, now the Warner Music Group, and expanded into rock and pop music with releases by Led Zeppelin and Yes.

We have just put out word that we will not be making a new Format album. Please understand this was a tough decision and we're both upset about it. While we accept there will be false speculation as to why, understand that Sam and I remain extremely close and in fact are still passing the Twin Peaks box set back and forth in an attempt to figure out who REALLY killed Laura Palmer.

<i>Twin Peaks</i> 1990s American drama television series

Twin Peaks is an American mystery drama television series created by Mark Frost and David Lynch that premiered on April 8, 1990, on ABC. The series developed a notably loyal following in 1990, but declining ratings led to its cancellation after its second season in 1991. It nonetheless gained a cult following and has been referenced in a wide variety of media. In subsequent years, Twin Peaks is often listed among the greatest television series of all time.

Laura Palmer fictional character from Twin Peaks

Laura Palmer is a fictional character in the Twin Peaks franchise. She is portrayed by Sheryl Lee and was created by the series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost. She first appears in the ABC original series Twin Peaks. A high school student whose death is the catalyst for the events of the series, Palmer is the protagonist in Lynch's prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), which depicts the final week of her life leading up to her murder. Laura also appears in the novels, Twin Peaks: The Return (2017), and a variety of merchandise based on the series.

We also want to thank everyone with and within the Format, particularly Mike, Don, and Marko, whom without, none of this would have ever even been fully realized. We both suggest you support their musical talents and whatever they decide to do. And lastly we want to thank the fans who made this the best 5 years of our lives. [13]


Ruess performing with Fun in March 2010. Fun..jpg
Ruess performing with Fun in March 2010.

Immediately after the split of the Format, Ruess contacted Jack Antonoff of Steel Train and Andrew Dost, formerly of Anathallo, to form a new band called fun. They released their first demo, "Benson Hedges", through Spin 's September 20, 2009, article. [14] Four months after releasing their first single, "At Least I'm Not as Sad (As I Used to Be)", through Myspace on April 6, 2009, Fun released their first studio album, entitled Aim and Ignite . The album received generally positive reviews and peaked at 71 on the Billboard 200.

The band's first tour happened in 2008 supporting Jack's Mannequin and gained exposure opening for them as well as Paramore in 2010. On August 4, 2010, Fun announced that they had been signed to the Fueled by Ramen label.

Ruess performing in Tucson, Arizona in March 2012. Ruess in Concert.jpg
Ruess performing in Tucson, Arizona in March 2012.

Their second album, Some Nights , was released on February 21, 2012, and featured production by Jeff Bhasker. The album's first single, "We Are Young", which features guest singer Janelle Monáe, was released September 20, 2011. The song was covered on Glee in December 2011 and featured in a Chevy Sonic commercial during the Super Bowl in February 2012, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on March 8, 2012. The album has become a success throughout the world, selling nearly three million copies. The album's title song, "Some Nights", reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number 1 on the Alternative Songs chart.

On February 10, 2013, Fun. won a Grammy for their song "We Are Young". Upon receiving the Grammy, Ruess commented, "I don't know what I was thinking writing the chorus for this song. If this is in HD, everyone can see our faces, and we are not very young. We've been doing this for 12 years, and I just got to say we could not do this without the help of all the fans that we've had keeping us afloat for the last 12 years." [15] Fun also won the Grammy for Best New Artist. [16]

Alongside Fun, Ruess had been a supporting vocalist for many different songs across genres. In 2012, he was featured on "Only Love" from Anthony Green's second solo album, Beautiful Things , and in 2013 was featured on Pink's album, The Truth About Love , in the song "Just Give Me a Reason". The song began as a simple songwriting session with Pink. She decided the song needed another side to it and subsequently a male part was written. While at first reluctant, with Pink encouraging him, he decided to participate in the duet. [17] The song eventually topped the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming his first number-one single as a solo artist and his second overall. After the success of "Just Give Me a Reason", Ruess was featured on Eminem's eighth studio album The Marshall Mathers LP 2 on the track "Headlights". Many of Ruess' lyrics were borrowed from a previously unreleased track, "Jumping The Shark," written during the Aim and Ignite sessions.

On June 18, 2014, Fun debuted a new song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon called "Harsh Lights". It would be the last new Fun song performed before Ruess' pursuing his career as a solo artist, however the band has made it clear that they are on hiatus, not splitting up.


On February 5, 2015, Fun posted a letter on their official website as a note to their fans on the status of the band. The band wrote that "there was no new Fun album in the works", and instead all three members were pursuing their own projects, including Ruess; who is beginning to release an album, as a solo musician.

Fun was founded by the three of us at a time when we were coming out of our own bands. One thing that has always been so special about Fun is that we exist as three individuals in music who come together to do something collaborative. We make Fun records when we are super inspired to do so. Currently Nate is working on his first solo album, Andrew is scoring films, and Jack is on tour and working on Bleachers music. The three of us have always followed inspiration wherever it leads us. Sometimes that inspiration leads to Fun music, sometimes it leads to musical endeavors outside of Fun. We see all of it as part of the ecosystem that makes Fun, fun. [18]

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ruess added, "You get a little selfish about the songs that you write, and it's really hard to do that in a group setting, where there are two other people, and you have to think about everybody else's feelings. I'm writing and singing these songs about myself. When you work with producers versus bandmates, that line becomes a lot less blurry." [3]

In addition to his solo album, Ruess was invited to perform on Brian Wilson's album No Pier Pressure . Wilson, who co-founded the Beach Boys, likened Ruess' voice to his deceased brother and former bandmate Carl Wilson. [19] Ruess then contributed guest vocals to the frequent collaborator Emile Haynie's 2015 release, We Fall. Ruess' then released his first single from his debut album, titled Nothing Without Love, which was sent to the alternative radio on February 23, 2015. [20]

On March 23, 2015, he made the first of multiple appearances, as a guest advisor on the eighth season on The Voice. [21] On April 6, 2015, Ruess announced his debut album would be called Grand Romantic, and it was released on June 16, 2015. [22] On April 27, 2015, Ruess released the opening track from his debut album Grand Romantic, titled 'AhHa'. [23]

In May 2015, he released another song, titled "Great Big Storm", in correlation with the announcement of his solo tour. The song features guest vocals from American singer-songwriter and musician Beck. It was released as part of the countdown to his new solo album. On May 31, 2015, Ruess made his live debut as a solo artist with his newly formed backup band called "The Band Romantic". He performed in Utrecht, Netherlands, at the intimate Tivoli/Vredenburg Cloud Nine location. The set list consisted of the 3 released tracks from "Grand Romantic", several then-unheard tracks from the same album, and songs from Fun such as "Some Nights", "We Are Young", and "Carry On." He also performed "Just Give Me a Reason". On June 1, 2015, Ruess released a new track from his solo album "Grand Romantic", titled "What This World Is Coming To".

On January 1, 2016, Ruess played during the 1st period intermission at the NHL Winter Classic in Foxboro, Massachusetts. On January 12, 2016, he released a music video for his song "Take It Back" starring actor Patrick Fischler [24] and also features a guitar solo from Jeff Tweedy of the band Wilco. [25]

More recently, Ruess has made sporadic appearances in the media and has performed on special occasions. In 2016 he appeared on The Hamilton Mixtape performing the track "My Shot". In 2018, Ruess was credited as a composer and lyricist for Keith Urban on his release Graffiti U. He helped write Urban's track "Way Too Long". Additionally, Ruess has been working as a songwriter and producer. In 2019, he collaborated again with Pink for the track “Walk Me Home”, which was released in February for her eighth studio album, called “Hurts 2B Human”.

Personal life

Ruess began dating English fashion designer Charlotte Ronson in March 2014. [26] They welcomed their first child, a son named Levon Ronson-Ruess, in January 2017. [27] They welcomed their second child, a daughter named Olympia Ronson-Ruess, in March 2019. [28] The family lives in Manhattan, New York, in the NoHo district. [29]


For Ruess' releases with the Format, see the Format discography
For Ruess' releases with Fun, see Fun discography

Solo albums

TitleDetailsPeak chart positions
Grand Romantic
  • Released: June 16, 2015
  • Label: Fueled by Ramen (549145)
  • Format: CD, CS, DL, LP


As lead artist

TitleYearPeak chart positionsAlbum



"Nothing Without Love"2015771424690 Grand Romantic
"AhHa" [37]
"Great Big Storm"30
"What This World Is Coming To"
(featuring Beck)
"—" denotes a single that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
TitleYearPeak chart positions Certifications Album
"It's for the Best"
(Straylight Run featuring Nate Ruess)
2004 Straylight Run
"Kill Monsters in the Rain"
(Steel Train featuring Nate Ruess)
2007 Trampoline
"Only Love" [38]
(Anthony Green featuring Nate Ruess)
2012 Beautiful Things
"Just Give Me a Reason"
(Pink featuring Nate Ruess)
  • US: 2× Platinum [39]
  • AUS: 5× Platinum [40]
  • AUT: Gold [41]
  • CAN: 6× Platinum [42]
  • GER: Platinum [43]
  • NZ: 3× Platinum [44]
The Truth About Love
(Eminem featuring Nate Ruess)
4521546063 The Marshall Mathers LP 2
"Fool Me Too"
(Emile Haynie featuring Nate Ruess)
2015 We Fall
"Saturday Night"
(Brian Wilson featuring Nate Ruess)
2015 No Pier Pressure
(with various artists)
"My Sacrifice"
(The Hot Guy Band featuring Nate Ruess)
2017"Let's Do Coke in the Bathroom"
"—" denotes a single that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

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Straylight Run band that plays alternative rock

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<i>Dog Problems</i> 2006 studio album by The Format

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Andrew Wyatt American musician, songwriter and record producer

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Jeff Bhasker is an American record producer, songwriter, keyboardist, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. He collaborated with rapper and producer Kanye West on the albums 808s & Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Watch the Throne. He has won Grammy Awards for the songs "Run This Town" by Jay-Z, "All of the Lights" by Kanye West, "We Are Young" by Fun., and "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson. Bhasker received the 2016 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical for co-producing Mark Ronson's album Uptown Special and producing Nate Ruess's album Grand Romantic among other records.

<i>Aim and Ignite</i> 2009 studio album by Fun

Aim and Ignite is the debut studio album by American indie pop band Fun. It was recorded at Appletree Studios.

We Are Young 2011 single by fun. featuring Janelle Monáe

"We Are Young" is a song recorded by American band Fun featuring American singer Janelle Monáe, for their second studio album, Some Nights (2012). It was released on September 20, 2011, as the lead single from the album. The song received acclaim from music critics, with many noting the song as a breakthrough for the indie genre and praising the song's catchiness. "We Are Young" has attained commercial success worldwide, reaching number one in several countries.

<i>Some Nights</i> (album) 2012 studio album by Fun

Some Nights is the second studio album by American pop rock group Fun. It was released on February 21, 2012 through Fueled by Ramen, a subsidiary of major label Warner Music Group. It was recorded in 2011 and produced by Jeff Bhasker. After signing to a new label, the band began to work on Some Nights for over nine months throughout 2011.

Some Nights (song) 2012 single by Fun

"Some Nights" is a song by American indie pop band Fun. It was released on June 4, 2012, as the second single from their second studio album of the same name. The song was written by Jeff Bhasker, Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, and Jack Antonoff. Musically "Some Nights" is an indie pop song with elements of power pop and afrobeat while the lyrics depict the protagonist having an existential crisis.

Fun discography

The discography of American indie pop band Fun consists of two studio albums, seven extended plays, 11 singles and seven music videos. Following the split of his previous band The Format, lead singer Nate Ruess formed Fun in 2008 with musicians Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff, both of whom had previously toured with The Format. Fun began recording sessions for their debut album in September 2008 and embarked on a North American tour the following month. In May 2009, they issued their debut single, "At Least I'm Not as Sad ". Aim and Ignite, the band's first full-length album, was released by Nettwerk Records on August 25, 2009 and peaked at number 71 on the United States Billboard 200 chart. The album produced an additional two singles, "All the Pretty Girls" and "Walking the Dog", which were then followed by the release of the single "C'mon", a collaboration with American alternative rock band Panic! at the Disco.

Carry On (Fun song) Fun song

"Carry On" is a song by American indie pop band fun. It was released on 23 October 2012 as the third single off their second album, Some Nights. The song was written by the band members, Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, Jack Antonoff, alongside the album's producer, Jeff Bhasker. It is also featured in the HGTV 2013 #LoveHome commercial and in the pilot episode of FX series Legit. The song is also featured in the 2013 documentary Bridegroom.

Just Give Me a Reason 2013 song by Pink and Nate Ruess

"Just Give Me a Reason" is a song recorded by American singer and songwriter Pink, featuring fun.'s lead singer Nate Ruess. The song was chosen as the third single from Pink's sixth studio album, The Truth About Love (2012). Jeff Bhasker assisted the artists in writing the song and is also the producer. "Just Give Me a Reason" is a pop ballad about the desire to hold on to a relationship even when it appears to be breaking down.

Andrew Dost musician

Andrew Paul Dost is an American musician, singer and current member of the indie rock band Fun., in which he plays several instruments, mainly the piano. He was formerly a member of the indie rock band Anathallo from 2003 to 2007.

Jack Antonoff American singer, musician, songwriter and record producer

Jack Michael Antonoff is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Antonoff is the lead singer of indie pop band Bleachers, and a guitarist and drummer in the indie rock band Fun. He was previously the lead singer of the indie rock band Steel Train. Aside from his work with Bleachers and Fun, Antonoff has worked as a songwriter and record producer with various artists, including Taylor Swift, Lorde, St. Vincent, Lana Del Rey, Kevin Abstract, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Troye Sivan. Antonoff has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won four Grammy Awards: two for his work with Fun, one for production on Taylor Swift's album 1989, and one with St. Vincent for writing the title track on Masseduction. He also started his own music festival, Shadow of The City, which takes place annually in New Jersey.

Headlights (Eminem song) 2014 Eminem song

"Headlights" is a song by American rapper Eminem, featuring Fun's lead singer Nate Ruess. It features production from Emile Haynie, Jeff Bhasker, and Eminem himself. In the song, Eminem apologizes to his mother, Debbie Mathers, for criticizing her in his earlier songs and for showing scorn and resentment towards her in the past. It was released on February 5, 2014 as the album's fifth and the final single. It peaked at number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Nothing Without Love" is the debut single by American singer Nate Ruess from his debut solo studio album Grand Romantic. The song was released on February 23, 2015 via Fueled By Ramen. The song impacted modern rock radio on March 3, 2015.

<i>Grand Romantic</i> 2015 studio album by Nate Ruess

Grand Romantic is the debut studio album of Nate Ruess, lead vocalist from The Format and Fun. It was released on June 16, 2015, by Fueled by Ramen. The album was produced by Some Nights producer Jeff Bhasker. Following the hiatus of Fun, Ruess announced that he would be working on material for a solo project.

The Grand Romantic is a 28-minute short film directed by Anthony Mandler and written by Sloane Crosley.


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