Jack Antonoff is spinning off from his chart-topping band fun., but he's recruited some big-time backup for his solo side project: Yoko Ono and Lena Dunham.
The 30-year-old guitarist has taken a break from the Grammy Award-winning pop-rock trio for his project Bleachers, releasing the album "Strange Desire" last month. Ono makes an appearance on the record, and his "Girls"-starring girlfriend directed the music video for lead single "I Wanna Get Better," currently No. 1 on Billboard's alternative songs chart.
Antonoff says despite their help, songwriting felt lonely since he was apart from the bandmates he's worked with for six years.
"When you start writing songs on your own, there's no Bible, there's no one around you, so you're just writing and you're left with, like, the dead space in your head to know if it's a good song or an interesting concept," said Antonoff, who co-wrote fun.'s hits and has also written with Taylor Swift and Sara Bareilles. "And so it's almost the exact opposite of working in fun. ... And that's why it's interesting to me."
He wrote and recorded the music while on a plane, in the car or in bed -- with some elements of the album stretching back several years -- all while fun. was topping the charts, selling millions of singles and touring the world.
In a recent interview, Antonoff talked about the new album, fun., and collaborating with Dunham and Ono.
Q. For the Bleachers project, you are singing. Will we hear you sing on future fun. records?
A. I don't know. I don't know if I want to. The exciting thing about Bleachers and fun. are they're different, and they're aesthetically different in many ways. But it's also like my role is very different and that's cool.
Q. Why call it Bleachers and not your name?
A. I never wanted to name the project my name because it felt too reactionary or too like, "This is my solo album" when it's not "this is my solo album." It's a whole different body of work.
Q. How did the members of fun. respond when you told them you were releasing this album?
A. I've been touring for over 12 years and so have the other guys in fun. And we got together both, you know, being our own entities and our own bands. So we came together as like this delusional supergroup of sorts. So there was a never a moment of like, "Hey guys, like I'm going to make my own record."
Q. What was it like working with Lena on your music video?
A. She's a great director. I didn't have to worry about it because I knew she would handle it, whereas sometimes with other videos you're scared like, "Is this going to be right?" ... I, just for once in my life, got to do nothing.
Q. Did you ask her to direct it or did she ask you?
A. It was just something we always talked about. I've noticed that a lot of people in film always seem interested in music videos, like it's some, like, really exciting thing they've always wanted to do or something.
Q. What was it like working with Yoko Ono?
A. She's completely uninhibited and free with her ideas. ... She went in and started screaming and grunting and making album noises and started talking crazy (expletive) and beautiful (expletive) and singing. I basically took this 20-minute file of her doing all this stuff, got in bed and started cutting it all up.