Nate Ruess Talks “Grand Romantic” Over A Beer

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

“Carry On.” “We Are Young.” “Give Me Just a Reason.” The list goes on and on — so what happens when you want to talk shop with the man behind multiple hit songs that have dominated popular music over the past few years? Drink. We met Nate Ruess down at Alphabet City Beer Co. on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to talk about his brand-new solo album, Grand Romantic, among other topics. The rules of this drinking interview were simple: Nate must answer the question or he has to take a sip. Here's how it all went down.

Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed


Would you rather never fall in love or experience love once but never see that person again?

Experience love once.

Would you rather swim in a pool full of pudding or jello?


What's your favorite song on your upcoming album?

The song “Grand Romantic”…today. It always changes. OK, I'll drink to that.

Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

If you could work with anyone in history who would you collaborate with?

George Washington! You could use those wooden teeth as a wood block.

Are you a dog person or cat person?

Dog person.

What’s your favorite word?

Today it's “conglomerate.” Tomorrow it's endoplasmic reticulum.

What about the next day?

Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

What inspired you to become a musician?

Other music.

What's your dream vacation?

The moon!

Favorite curse word?

Shit, um… Shit?

Beyoncé or Beck?

Beck! But I don't have to choose, so…

What's the last dream you had?

Oh god, I can't…

Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

What's your weirdest habit?

Oh god, I think it might be drinking… during the day! It gets weird.

What was your favorite thing about growing up in Arizona?

Leaving Arizona.

Do you have a crazy fan story?

No! Do I have to take a sip for that?

I think so.

Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

What was the inspiration behind ‘’Great Big Storm’’?

Just watching my parents or other people around kind of just…struggling to make it, and seeing them make it.

Pick one: the ocean or the city?

The city.

Bacon or Nutella?

Nutella? I take that back! I take it back because I don't keep Nutella around but, like, I try to keep bacon around on the reg. Bacon.

Instagram or Twitter?



Well, I have nothing to share other than my music. Otherwise I'm quite content.

If you could ask Oprah one question, what would it be?

Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

Do you still have “Dog Problems”?

Always, every day.

Vinyl or MP3?


What's your favorite season?

Oh, oh, oh… I don't want to drink to this one! I'm going to go with spring.

What’s one thing you haven’t achieved that you would like to?

I would like to run a marathon. Go to college! So that I have an excuse for the drinking.

Would you rather be in love with a girl who “doesn’t get it” or won’t “compromise”?

Won't compromise.

What song on your album best describes you?

All of them — it's, like, my album! Other than the one that talks about me hating children and wanting to kill the whales…

What's the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Don't drive your van over 80 miles per hour if it's carrying a trailer or the van will blow up.”

Why is there a period in fun.?

Because, because… It's a word that I'm sure there were like a trillion other bands [that had it] and we had to differentiate ourselves.

Are you a “grand romantic”?

Absolutely. I'll drink to that.

Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

You came up with “Nothing Without Love” in the shower. Are there other songs you’ve written in the shower?

Yeah, every day. My best songs and worst songs, all in the shower. I have a shower where I know that my neighbors can't hear me, so I just go to town.

How do you know they can't hear you, though?

I more so hope and pray. I also put the recording studio in my house — they hate me.

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want to be stranded with?

The cast of Lost? I don't know. Tom Hanks in Castaway? A ball with the face on it? Gilligan! I'd absolutely be stuck with Gilligan.

Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

Are you still not as sad as you used to be?

No, I'm sadder. Quite sadder. But I'm also happier than I used to be.

What's the first thing you’d grab in a fire?

I'm burning down.

What would you do if you weren’t a musician?

Go to college! Get an education. I don't know specifically because I've never been but I hear you do this [drinking], at least from what I've heard.

You've played many colleges, though.

I have played colleges. Things have gone very badly.

What’s the best thing about being a solo artist?

I'm totally responsible for my own schedule so I can be like, I don't wanna do that, or not have to discuss that with anybody. And then I can go back to bed.

What’s the hardest thing about being solo?

Approving photos of my face. I don't like to look at it.

What’s the best thing about being in a band?

I think it's that you kind of link up, three people collectively becoming one brand.

What’s the hardest thing about being in a band?

Three people collectively becoming one brand.

Which song on your new album took the longest to write?

Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

I will drink to that because they all ended up taking a long-ass time, but I adhere to “if it's a good song, it shouldn't take that long to write.” But I did sit with certain lyrics forever, like, being precious about it, so.

Is there anything else we should know about the album?

On the Beck song I knew what I wanted the guitar solo to be played so I just sang it — which, I've sang guitar solos on songs before — but on this one it's cool because I'm looking over and Beck is trying to play a song where I'm like, “Meow, meow.”

When I sign a guitar solo on an album it kind of sounds like a cat, because I sing meow, meow, meow, meow… I do that, but then I try to sound as much like a guitar as possible.

What was it like working with Beck?

He's about the coolest person I've ever met.

Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

…Do I have to finish this thing?

Your choice!

Grand Romantic is out now and available wherever music is sold.

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