Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 30, 2013

Frankfort native has 'fun.' in the spotlight

Indie trio recently scored six Grammy nominations


TRAVERSE CITY — Andrew Dost once told an interviewer he believed there was a place for brains in pop music.

Turns out Dost's instincts were right on key.

Dost, a Frankfort native, is a multi-instrumentalist for "fun." a hot indie trio known for its monster hits, "We Are Young" and "Some Nights."

Fun. recently scored six Grammy award nominations. Even more impressive — and a first for any band — fun. landed nominations in all "Big Four" categories: album, record and song of the year, plus best new artist.

"They've traveled the world, they've been on Letterman and Conan. They played one of the inaugural balls last week," said Pete Sandman, whose son, Jeff, grew up with Andrew. "It's a real big deal."

Dost's path to national stardom included a stint as a Record-Eagle columnist, chronicling his tour with the rock band, Anathallo. In one 2007 column, he described getting trapped in a bathroom for two hours at a music festival. He and the drummer whiled away the time reminiscing about all the good times they've had on earth, he wrote.

It appears times for Dost, 29, are just getting better.

The band hit rock star status after fun.'s single, "We Are Young," recorded with guest vocalist Janelle Monae, was featured on a Glee episode and in a Super Bowl commercial nearly a year ago. That catapulted the song to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks. The band's second hit, "Some Nights," went to No. 3. The album by the same name was certified platinum last week.

Mark Dost, Andrew's father, said the success is unreal, especially considering Andrew came from such a "normal" family.

"Cheryl and I are retired third grade teachers, and we're subbing now," he said. "And that's what's weird. We go to these sold-out shows, and these people are insane with enthusiasm. There was a block in Detroit where people waited hours and hours to get in."

When Andrew came out to meet his parents, people mobbed him.

"For us to see people act that way toward normal, old Andrew, it was hard to comprehend at first," Mark said.

Andrew Dost, a Frankfort-Elberta High School 2001 high school valedictorian, spent his childhood learning to play a wide range of instruments, from guitar to French horn.

Despite his immense talent, he told the Record-Eagle last year that the sudden success surprised him.

"Because I've been doing this for so long, you don't expect things to move quickly at all, he said.

By that time, he had transitioned from an unreliable mini-van to a luxury bus with two bathrooms and three wide-screen TVs.

Don't be fooled. The band's lifestyle is gruelling, Mark Dost said.

Even on its "day off," the band attends to media interviews and photo shoots. The trio stays healthy by eating well, exercising, and avoiding drugs. They even have a treadmill on the bus.

All three are humble, clean-cut guys, deeply grateful for their success, Mark said.

"It's kind of weird how nice they are," Mark said.

The band members realize this level of success is rare, particularly having stayed true to their more complex musical style, Mark said.

"They proved people have sophisticated tastes and will accept quality music that's different," he said.

Mark said he and Cheryl won't attend the Grammy awards on Feb. 10 since there is little chance they could spend time with their son. Instead, they'll attend a Grammy Watch Party at the Garden Theatre in Frankfort, a fundraiser for the Frankfort-Elberta High School band.

"The moms who are in charge of it said that's where Andrew got his start," Mark said. "It's true, and it isn't true. He got his start when he was two years old with a plastic guitar."