Grammys across the street from her parents in Traverse City
If you turned on a radio or television in 2012, you’ve probably heard “We Are Young,” the hit song from the fun pop / indie rock band. Following a feature film in the television series Joy, and another in a 2012 Superbowl commercial, the song lit up the airwaves, soaring to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in mid-March and stay there for six weeks. What you might not know is that one of the song’s co-authors – and one of three fun members. – now resides right here in Traverse City.
Meet Andrew Dost, multi-instrumentalist, Grammy winner, platinum record artist and former resident of northern Michigan. Dost grew up in the area and graduated from Frankfurt High School (as a valedictorian) in 2001. After high school, Dost attended Central Michigan University, where he joined the Anathallo group. This event kicked off a decade-and-a-half journey of turmoil in the industry, constant touring and, ultimately, resounding success. At his busiest, Dost was on the road for over 320 days a year.
“It was nonstop for probably 15 years,” he recalls. “Touring touched me a lot, just in terms of how difficult it was to be on the road for years at a time. I needed a very deep rest. I wanted Michigan. I wanted to spend time with my family. I wanted to spend time at home, time to reconnect with my roots.
A global pandemic provided this opportunity.
Even before COVID, Dost was no stranger to Traverse City. He returned to the area for a stint in the mid-2010s, and he and his girlfriend – from Ann Arbor – were renovating a house in town when the pandemic hit.
But Dost also had a life in Los Angeles, where he ran a music studio – both to work on his own projects and to get together with collaborators to co-write songs. When COVID hit, he and his partner decided they’d rather survive the pandemic in northern Michigan than Los Angeles. They came back, finished their renovation and put down roots.
Even from Mitten, Dost has kept a foothold in the arts, music and entertainment world.
“I did a lot of random things,” he explains. “Movies, podcasts, TV shows. I just hit an NFT (non-fungible token) which sold out. I have done a lot of productions for other artists and I have co-wrote songs for other people. [The success of the band] worked in a nice way, because it allows me to do whatever inspires me. I enjoyed this freedom to follow my impulses and carry them out.
When asked about the group that made him famous, Dost is very reluctant to pull the curtain. The rise of pleasure. now has nearly a decade in the rearview mirror, with the band’s most successful album, Some nights, nine years old in February. In addition to “We Are Young”, the album produced two other big hits – “Some Nights”, which reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100; and “Carry On,” which peaked at number 20. At the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, held in February 2013, fun. was shortlisted for the top four awards: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist. The group won two of these awards: Best New Artist and Song of the Year, for “We Are Young”.
Then, in June 2015, fun. announced his intention to take a break. While the statement assured fans the group was “not going their separate ways,” fun. never came together as a unit, never did another tour, and never made another album.
“I’m reluctant to really go into detail,” Dost said. The teleprinter group inactivity. “I guess all I can say is we haven’t really talked about doing anything together [as a band]. “
Not that the band members left the music behind. Lead singer Nate Ruess released a solo album in 2015 and has been featured as a vocalist on songs by Pink, Eminem, Brian Wilson, and more. Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Jack Antonoff releases albums under the nickname “Bleachers” and is one of the most sought-after producers of pop music. He recently won a Grammy Album of the Year for his role in Taylor Swift’s folklore.
Dost, meanwhile, says he’s putting the finishing touches on his new album. While the members are having fun. have largely gone their separate ways, however, Dost says everyone stays on good terms – to the point that they appear regularly on each other’s songs or albums.
“We’re still pretty collaborative,” he says. “When you meet people you click with, musically it’s a rare and special thing, so we try to keep some of that alive. For example, Nate, the singer and I are working on a musical together. So while the band is probably a tender thing that may never happen again, we’re all still in touch and still working together – in different ways. “
“I started playing music in the first place because I saw The Beatles and how much fun they had, and how they just traveled the world with their friends,” Dost continues. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. And the fact that we’ve been able to relate through the different directions that life has taken all three of us is really special and important. And it’s kinda hard earned, because after going through something like we’ve all been through together, [friendship] is not the easiest thing to maintain.
So, with no group to return with, is Dost a Northern Michigan man for good?
“We’re just trying to take life as it comes,” he says of himself and his partner. “I imagine that we are going to leave [to L.A., after the pandemic], but also… I don’t really want to? If we can get away with it here, and either stay plugged into the wider art world or look to something more local, I’d like to try to do that. I really feel grateful to be back here and to be able to understand what this means for my life. I live across from my parents. I live across from my cousins, who are like my best friends. I am a part of their life in a way that I haven’t been in years. And that means so much to me.