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Interview:
Andrew Dost is having his Fun. with film these days
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

After six years with the band Fun., Andrew Dost is now having a different kind of musical fun these days.

While the group is on an open-ended hiatus, the multi-instrumentalist and composer -- who was born in Cass City and raised in Frankfurt before residing in Royal Oak for five years -- is residing in Traverse City, where he's making both music, including the core for the new film "The D Train," and oak tables. It's a little different than the jet-setting he did with Fun., particularly during the Grammy Award-winning, platinum run of 2012's "Some Nights" album, but Dost says it feels exactly right.

"I feel more like myself than I have in a long time," Dost, 32, reports. "I think a lot of impurity crept into the way I make art in terms of thinking about other people all the time. Doing these tables, it's nice to know that this is not for anybody but me -- it's going to be in my living room and I'm gonna set my coffee on it.

"It's nice to remind myself that art has to be kind of ultimately fulfilling to the creator. If not, it can't really reach anybody else."

Dost has connected with plenty of listeners over the years, of course. A journalism and advertising graduate of Central Michigan University -- where he wrote a musical called "Columbus" that he considers "a snapshot of a kid who didn't know what he's doing yet" -- Dost went on to spend three years with the group Anathallo before Nate Ruess from The Format and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train asked him to join them in a new band. "Andrew's one of those secret weapon kind of guys," Antonoff says. "He plays almost any instrument and has a ton of great ideas, and they're almost always good ones."

Fun. released two albums, with "Some Nights" making a quantum leap with sales of more than 1.6 million copies in the U.S. and a pair of Top 5 singles in "We Are Young" and the title track. It was, Dost notes, a "whirlwind" experience that left all three band members a bit winded, and at the moment Fun. is on ice Ruess pursues a solo career and Antonoff leads a new music project, Bleachers. And the future, Dost acknowledges, is "sort of nebulous."

"I've just started reconciling that it's not going to be on any timetable I'm concerned with," he explains. "So I'm going to keep doing my thing and treat (Fun.) as a loose collective. I don't know how and when and if we will come back together -- but I hope that we do. I think we still have a lot left to say."

Dost isn't lacking for things to do, however. "The D Train" is actually his third film scoring project; he previously wrote music for the HBO documentary "It's Me, Hilary," about author-illustrator Hilary Knight and the unreleased independent film "Me Him Her." "The D Train" -- which opens May 8 and stars Jack White as a high school homecoming chairman who works to lure his class' cool kid (played by James Marsden) to the gathering -- is his first full-fledged Hollywood film feature, red carpet premieres and all.

"Scoring films has always been kind of my goal," says Dost, who in addition to the synthesizer-dominated instrumental music for "The D Train" co-wrote an end-credit song, "A Million Stars," with Fun. mate Antonoff and OMD's Andy McCluskey, who sings it. It's always been something I thought I would do once the band wound down and I didn't want to tour anymore. I thought that would happen when I was a little older, but the band wound down a little sooner than I thought it would, which gave me a perfect time to dive in."

And even though scoring films is about pleasing others -- particularly the director -- Dost says the process still feels more like the "more holistic, less song-minded, less pop-minded" approach he craves in the band's sake.

"I look at films as the ultimate artistic expression in a way," he says. "They're storytelling. They're visual art. It's many people collaborating in many different ways. You have this union of human collaboration and artistic collaboration and sounds and picture and whatever, all these things coalescing to tell a story.

"That was something I've aspired to be involved wtih from a very young age. I hope that I can, in some way, contribute to the story this movie is telling, but for me it's realizing a dream I've had for a long time."

"The D Train" soundtrack -- which also features 80s hits by OMD, INXS, Foreigners, Quarterflash and others -- comes out digitally on May 5 and May 28 on CD. Dost, who recently remixed the single "Never Let Me Go" for Ferndale singer-songwriter Michael Bermudez, is hoping it's a calling card that helps establish his name in the film community so he can continue to realize the dream.

"I was trying to do this for years, and nobody really thinks you can do it until you've done it -- especially coming from a band, where people think guys in bands are idiots or something," Dost says with a laugh. "It's nice now to have a few things under my belt so I can say, 'You would be safe with me, and maybe I have a unique thing to contribute to your movie.'

"Hopefully people understand it's not a risky move (to hire him) now. It could be an interesting choice and something that could be really special."

The Dost D Train Dossier

"The D Train" opens May 8 in theaters.

"The D Train" soundtrack will be released digitally on May 5 and May 28 on CD.


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