Jack Antonoff has three folders on his computer: Fun., Bleachers , Other.
And for the past year, whenever he got an idea that fit into that middle category, he'd pop it into the Bleachers folder on his hard drive as he compiled the ideas and melodies that wound up on the upcoming debut from his solo side project .
"Usually it's very difficult for me to write on the road," Antonoff told MTV News on the red carpet at Thursday night's 2014 mtvU Woodie Awards. "And I've never written on the road before. Which is something that's special about the Bleachers album is that I don't know why it came out the way it did ... all of a sudden about a year ago I felt very compelled to write ... it's cool to have places where ideas that you love don't have to die."
Antonoff recorded sketches for the album in Malaysia, Stockholm, New Zealand and Japan while on tour with Fun., gathering the hotel room and studio tracks and poring over them at a New York studio. He said the songs were inspired by such 1980s synth pop icons as Yaz, Depeche Mode and Erasure, which explains why studio wiz Vince Clarke (a member of all three groups) worked with Antonoff on the album.
"I really feel very connected to that time in pop music," said Antonoff. "When huge stuff was also cool stuff and there wasn't this great divide between mainstream and interesting." Yearning for that era when you could hear DM's "Blasphemous Rumors" on the radio next to the latest Madonna hit was the vibe Antonoff was looking for and hooking up with Clarke was like completing a musical circle: recording with the guy who made you want to record music in the first place.
"I did a lot of writing in weird moments when I should have been asleep or should have been eating, but I was just writing," he said. The video for the first single, "I Wanna Get Better," is already in the can and Antonoff promised the narrative-heavy clip would be out soon. "I'm really proud of it," he said of the short film-like video. "It's an idea I've wanted to do for a while."
Tune into Sunday night's "2014 mtvU Woodie Awards Special" at 8 p.m. ET/PT to see Bleachers perform alongside surprise guest Lil Wayne , the 1975, Iggy Azalea, Childish Gambino and more.
Voting for the new "Cover Woodie" category will remain open at Woodies.MTV.com through Sunday. The award honors artists who have taken a hit and made it their own and you can vote for your favorite nominee on Twitter, Instagram and Vine by using custom hashtags with "#vote" in front of the artist's name. The nominees are Bastille taking on Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" (#votebastille); Arctic Monkeys covering Drake's "Hold On We're Going Home" (#votearcticmonkeys); Vampire Weekend's rendition of "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke (#votevampireweekend); Sam Smith's version of Bruno Mars' "When I Was Your Man" (#votesamsmith); Low covering Rihanna's "Stay" (#votelow); and The 1975's version of "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction (#votethe1975).