Nathaniel Joseph "Nate" Ruess was born February 26, 1982 in
in Iowa City, Iowa. He is the younger of two children.
In 1986 his family moved to a farm in Glendale, Arizona, due to repeated bouts of pneumonia Ruess faced as a child. This is alluded to in Fun's song "The Gambler" from their debut album, Aim and Ignite. Ruess remained in Arizona throughout his childhood.
His uncle, John Ruess, was a performer on Broadway.
Ruess attended Deer Valley High School and graduated in 2000. He joined punk bands in high school (Nevergonnascore, This Past Year) and upon graduation chose to pursue music. In an interview with American Songwriter Ruess states, "I'm not one to take lessons, so I decided that the only way I was going to learn how to sing, if what they were saying was true, was to go in my car and put on any sort of music from a vocalist that might be really hard to mimic, turn it on as loud as possible and try to hit all those notes". He took a job in a law firm as a way to support himself while he pursued his musical ambitions.
Circa 1998, Ruess was the vocalist for Nevergonnascore releasing an EP, The Byron Sessions. The band played regularly at the Nile Theater in Mesa, Arizona.
In 2001, at the age of 19, he launched the band The Format with his longtime best friend, Sam Means. The Format was his first musical endeavor to garner widespread attention. Immediately after the split of The Format, Ruess contacted Jack Antonoff of Steel Train and Andrew Dost, formerly of Anathallo, to form a new band called Fun. They released their first demo, 'Benson Hedges' through Spin's September 20, 2009 article. Four months after releasing their first single, "At Least I'm Not as Sad (As I Used to Be)" through Myspace on April 6, 2009, Fun released their first studio album, entitled Aim and Ignite. Despite receiving generally positive reviews, the album was not a commercial success, peaking at 71 on the Billboard 200.
The band supported Jack's Mannequin on tour in both 2008 and 2010, and Paramore in 2010. On August 4, 2010, they announced that they had been signed to the Fueled by Ramen label.
On May 17, 2011, the band was featured on Panic! at the Disco's single "C'mon". They also opened for Panic! at the Disco during their 2011 Vices & Virtues Tour.
Their second album, Some Nights, was released on February 21, 2012 and featured production by Jeff Bhasker. The album's first single, "We Are Young", which features guest singer Janelle Monáe, was released September 20, 2011. The song was covered on Glee in December 2011 and featured on a Chevrolet commercial during the Super Bowl in February 2012, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on March 8, 2012. The album has become a big success throughout the world, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. The album's title song, "Some Nights", reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached number 1 on the Alternative Songs chart.
Ruess performing in Tucson, Arizona in March 2012.
On June 10, 2012 they played at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee with an attendance over 80,000.
On July 9, 2012 they played at Scottish music festival T in the Park in Balado, United Kingdom. On August 4, 2012, fun. played in Chicago, Illinois, at Lollapalooza.
November 3, 2012 Fun performed "Carry On" and "Some Nights" on Saturday Night Live in New York City.
On February 10, 2013 Ruess, and the rest of the band, won a Grammy for their song "We Are Young". At receiving the Grammy, Ruess commented "I don't know what I was thinking writing the chorus for this song. If this is in HD, everyone can see our faces and we are not very young. We've been doing this for 12 years and I just got to say we could not do this without the help of all the fans that we've had keeping us afloat for the last 12 years." Fun. also won the Grammy for "Best New Artist."
Ruess features on the track "Only Love" on Anthony Green's second solo album, Beautiful Things.
Ruess is also featured on Pink's latest album, The Truth About Love, in the song Just Give Me a Reason.The song began as a simple songwriting session with Pink. She decided the song needed another side to it and subsequently a male part was written. While at first reluctant, with Pink egging him on he decided to participate in the duet.. The song eventually topped the US Billboard Hot 100 becoming his first number-one single as a solo artist and second overall.
He also co-wrote "Die Young", the lead single from Ke$ha's second studio album, Warrior.