Jack Antonoff didn’t intend to stay perpetually busy – it just happened. Besides his regular gig in Grammy-winning trio Fun., he has become rockdom’s most go-to collaborator, having co-written Sara Bareilles’ “Brave,” Taylor Swift’s “Sweeter Than Fiction” and three cuts on Swift’s new “1989.” The ex-Steel Train frontman also has Bleachers, a solo project he conceived on world tours with Fun. Its recent debut “Strange Desire” amps the sugary pop past diabetic level, in anthems like “Rollercoaster” and “I Wanna Get Better,” with a video directed by his longtime girlfriend, “Girls” mastermind Lena Dunham.
You’ve said that suburban upbringing was crucial to making music later, right?<./p>
I feel like that’s a luxury that was afforded anyone who grew up being especially uncool. I grew up in New Jersey, right outside of New York, right outside the party, and as a kid I thought, “This kind of sucks – all the good stuff’s happening in there, and I’m way out here!” But now that I’m older, I realize how vital that time was in defining who I am. If you grow up feeling like an outsider, then you spend your life searching for it, striving for it.
Do you and Lena wake up each morning, laughing?<./p>
I think our existence is pretty similar to anyone else’s. But we do have a nice time. And we’re pretty open about our work. I think that if you’re not talking about it, it’s not healthy. A lot of people, even couples, put this helmet on when it comes to their work, and then the work suffers. So if I didn’t discuss it, it would feel like I was keeping some big, dark secret.
Having unreleased Taylor Swift songs on your computer felt pretty top-secret, too, right?<./p>
Yeah. But the best thing about working with her is that all the stressful realities of her superstar life just don’t exist in our creative environment. And she works the same way I work, whether it’s us texting ideas back and forth before we start writing, or us getting together for sessions in my apartment or her space – it just takes all the bulls— out of the situation.
Like Andrew W.K., you also believe that biggest is best with song mixes.
Yes. You just have to make things that you hear in your head. And it’s a shame that some artists seem to have forgotten that. Everyone has an opinion on music, and it’s become this set of things you can’t do, like, “You can’t use that instrument – it’s cheesy!” But at some point you just have to say f— it! and make the music you want to make.
IF YOU GO
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 6
Tickets: $25 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 771-1421, www.ticketfly.com