Nate Ruess

Nate Ruess

Nate Ruess
Ruess at a radio show in August 2012
Background information
Birth name Nathaniel Joseph Ruess[1]
Born (1982-02-26) February 26, 1982 [2]
Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.
Origin Glendale, Arizona, U.S.
Genres Indie pop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2000–present
Labels Fueled By Ramen
Associated acts The Format, Fun, Anthony Green Nevergonnascore

Nathaniel Joseph "Nate" Ruess (born February 26, 1982) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. He is best known as the lead vocalist of indie pop band Fun.[3]

Early life

Ruess was born on February 26, 1982, in Iowa City, Iowa. He is the younger of two children of Bess Zinger and Larry Ruess.[4][5] His sister, Elizabeth, is one year older.[6] His uncle, John Ruess, was a performer on Broadway.[7]

In 1986, his family moved to a farm in Glendale, Arizona, due to repeated bouts of pneumonia Ruess faced as a child.[8] This is alluded to in Fun.'s song "The Gambler" from their debut album, Aim and Ignite. Ruess remained in Arizona throughout his childhood. He attended Deer Valley High School and graduated in 2000.[9] He joined punk bands in high school (Nevergonnascore, This Past Year) and upon graduation chose to pursue music. 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]

Circa 1998, Ruess was the vocalist for Nevergonnascore, releasing an EP, The Byron Sessions. The band played regularly at the Nile Theater in Mesa, Arizona. In 2001, at the age of 19, he launched the band The Format with his longtime best friend, Sam Means. The Format was his first musical endeavor to gain widespread attention.


2001–2008: The Format

After forming in 2001, The Format released a five song demo, titled EP, which generated local interest and led to the band's 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. 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.

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. 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.[12]

2008–present: Fun. Breakthrough with P!nk and Eminem and songwriting

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.[13] 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. Despite receiving generally positive reviews, the album was not a commercial success, peaking 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.

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 Spanish on a Taco Bell 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 hundreds of thousands of 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.

Ruess performing in Tucson, Arizona in March 2012.

On February 10, 2013, the band 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."[14] Fun. also won the Grammy for Best New Artist.[15]

Alongside Fun., Ruess has 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, in 2011 was part of a split single "C'mon" with Panic! At The Disco, and in 2013 was featured on Pink's album, The Truth About Love, in the song "Just Give Me a Reason".[16] 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, released on November 5, 2013 on the track "Headlights". The latter song by Eminem is an apology to his mother, Debbie Mathers, for all the resentful things he has said about her in his older songs.[18] Most of Ruess's parts were borrowed from a previously unreleased Fun track "Jumping The Shark" during the Aim and Ignite sessions. The song "Harsh Lights" was debuted on the Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon, on June 18, 2014.

He co-wrote "Leaving California" in Maroon 5's fifth album V

Behind the scenes, Ruess also cowrote "Die Young", the lead single from Kesha's second studio album, Warrior[19][20] and "Goodness Gracious" by Ellie Goulding.[21]

In July 2014, Ruess was reported as having sung on Brian Wilson's upcoming album No Pier Pressure. Wilson, who co-founded the Beach Boys, likened Ruess's voice to his deceased brother and former bandmate Carl Wilson.[22]


See also: Fun discography

Guest appearances

Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
"It's For The Best"
(Straylight Run featuring Nate Ruess)
2004 Straylight Run (album)
"Holy Horseshit, Batman!!"
(Gym Class Heroes featuring Nate Ruess)
2011 The Papercut Chronicles II
"Only Love"[23]
(Anthony Green featuring Nate Ruess)
2012 Beautiful Things
"Just Give Me a Reason"
(Pink featuring Nate Ruess)
2013 1 1 1 1 4 1 1 1 1 2 The Truth About Love
(Eminem featuring Nate Ruess)
45 21 54 60 91 The Marshall Mathers LP 2
"—" denotes songs which were not released in that country or failed to chart.


  1. ^ Eliscu, Jenny (2012). "Fun". Rolling Stone: 30. 
  2. ^ "On This Day: February 26". The Learning Network ( 
  3. ^ Escudero, Nicki (June 16, 2011). "Former Format Singer Nate Ruess Wants to Have fun. in Arizona". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved January 23, 2012. 
  4. ^ Larry Ruess | Brome Hill
  5. ^ Robert H. Ruess (1924 - 2001) - Find A Grave Memorial
  6. ^ Masley, Ed (February 9, 2013). "How Nate Ruess of Fun. went from Glendale to Grammys", The Arizona Republic. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Lawler, Joe. "fun. having fun at the top", Des Moines Register, Iowa, 7 April 2012. Retrieved on 5 March 2013.
  9. ^ O'Connor, Christopher. "Adjusting to Format". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "fun.:Everyday Anthems". fun.:Everyday Anthems.  
  11. ^ Interview & Show Preview: fun. @ Showbox SoDo Friday, 6/24, Back Beat Seattle, 2011-06-22. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
  12. ^ News post, titled "Important." The Format's official website. Accessed February 4, 2008.
  13. ^ "Members of the Format, Steel Train, Anathallo unite as Fun", Spin, 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
  14. ^ "'"Fun. Take Song Of The Year Grammy For 'We Are Young. 
  15. ^ "Best New Artist Winner at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards". Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  16. ^  
  17. ^ "The Truth About Love - Track by Track Commentary". 
  18. ^ EMINEM - MMLP2 Tracklisting
  19. ^ Sieczkowski, Cavan (September 25, 2012). "Ke$ha 'Die Young' Hits Airwaves, Party Anthem Boasts Stripped, 'Hippie Rock' Sound".  
  20. ^ Kaufman, Gil. "Ke$ha's Down-And-Dirty Party Anthem 'Die Young' Leaks".  
  21. ^ "'"Ellie Goulding and fun.'s Nate Ruess Drop Tropi-Pop Gem 'Goodness Gracious.  
  22. ^ Fine, Jason (July 18, 2014). "Brian Wilson's Girl-Powered LP: In the Studio With the Beach Boy". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  23. ^ Cameron Matthews (January 11, 2012). "Anthony Green Is in the Collaborative Spirit on 'Only Love' -- Song Premiere".  
  24. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum Searchable Database".  
  25. ^ "Australian Singles Chart: 01/07/2013".  
  26. ^ "Gold & Platin" (in German).  
  27. ^ "Music Canada: Pink (Just Give Me a Reason)".  
  28. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Pink)" (in German).  
  29. ^ "NZ Top 40: Singles Chart - 10 June 2013".  
  30. ^ "ARIA Australian Top 50 Singles Chart - 24/03/2014".  

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

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