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.
Ruess was born on February 26, 1982, in Iowa City, Iowa. He is the younger of two children of Bess Zinger and Larry Ruess. His sister, Elizabeth, is one year older. His uncle, John Ruess, was a performer on Broadway.
In 1986, his family moved to a farm in Glendale, Arizona, due to repeated bouts of pneumonia Ruess faced as a child. 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. 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". He took a job in a law firm as a way to support himself while he pursued his musical ambitions.
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.
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. 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.
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." Fun also won the Grammy for Best New Artist.
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". 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. 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 song "Harsh Light" was debuted on the Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon, on June 18, 2014.
Behind the scenes, Ruess also cowrote "Die Young", the lead single from Kesha's second studio album, Warrior and "Goodness Gracious" by Ellie Goulding.