Jack Antonoff

Jack Antonoff

Jack Antonoff performing at a Las Vegas radio station in 2012
Background information
Birth name Jack Michael Antonoff
Born (1984-03-31) March 31, 1984
Bergenfield, New Jersey, United States
  • Musician
  • guitarist
  • songwriter
  • music producer
  • Guitar
  • vocals
  • drums
  • piano
  • mandolin
Years active 2000–present
Associated acts
Notable instruments
Gibson ES-330
Epiphone Wilshire Phant-o-Matic

Jack Michael Antonoff (born March 31, 1984)[1] is an American musician, singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lead singer and songwriter of Bleachers, and lead guitarist of the indie rock band fun. He was previously the lead singer-songwriter of the band Steel Train. Antonoff has been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and has won three Grammy Awards. Jack also started his own music festival called Shadow of The City which takes place annually in New Jersey.[2]

Early life

Antonoff was born in Bergenfield, New Jersey,[1] the son of Shira (Wall) and Rick Antonoff, and the middle child of three.[3] He is the younger brother of fashion designer Rachel Antonoff.[4] His younger sister, Sarah, died of brain cancer at the age of 13 when Antonoff was a senior in high school.[5]

Antonoff grew up in New Milford, New Jersey, and Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, and attended elementary school at the Solomon Schechter Day School in Bergen County, New Jersey.[6][7] For high school, he and his sister commuted to New York City, New York, to attend the Professional Children's School.[4]

During his sophomore year of high school, he and several friends from elementary school formed a punk rock band called "Outline." When they were 15, Antonoff and his Outline bandmate used a DIY guide to book shows in numerous states, including Florida and Texas, and borrowed Antonoff's parents' minivan to travel in. During the tour, Outline played in venues such as anarchist bookstores, while the oldest member of the band drove because he was 18 years old. Antonoff explained in 2014: "Half the time no one would show up or the equipment would be too fucked up to play ... but that's when I fell in love with touring." The band lasted from 1998 to 2002.[5][6]


2002–12: Steel Train, fun., and "We Are Young"

In 2002, Antonoff and friend, Scott Irby-Ranniar, formed the band Steel Train—Antonoff was the lead singer,[8] and they recruited drummer Matthias Gruber. The band then convinced two of their friends from the band Random Task, Evan Winiker and Matthew Goldman, to drop out of college to join the new band.[6] Steel Train secured a recording deal with Drive-Thru Records.[6]

In 2008, Nate Ruess (formerly the frontman of The Format) asked Antonoff to join him and Andrew Dost (formerly of Anathallo) in a new band, which became fun.[9] Antonoff was already well acquainted with Ruess and Dost, as their former bands had all toured together.[9]

The new band released its debut album, Aim and Ignite, in 2009.[10] fun.'s second album, Some Nights (2012), produced the band's first number-one hit single, "We Are Young." The song was cowritten by Antonoff with Ruess, Dost, and Jeff Bhasker.[11]

2013–present: "Brave," Taylor Swift, and Bleachers

The HBO series, Girls, which stars the show's creator Lena Dunham, released its Volume 1 soundtrack, featuring the fun. song "Sight of the Sun," in January 2013.[12]

Antonoff cowrote the 2013 song "Brave" with Sara Bareilles, after they were introduced by Sara Quin of band Tegan and Sara. Bareilles said to Billboard: "We met for breakfast one day, and I was just so enamored with him and his personality ... The first day we sat down together was the day we wrote 'Brave.'" Antonoff wrote the song about a friend's struggle to speak openly about his sexuality, and it was later adopted as a gay anthem.[13]

The quickly written song was released on April 23, and by the end of June, "Brave" had sold 160,000 digital copies and peaked at number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The music video for the song was viewed 1.1 million times on YouTube within a month of its release in May 2013, and by the start of 2015, had received nearly 39 million views.[14][15] "Brave" was used by Microsoft to advertise its Windows tablet technology device.[16]

Also in 2013, "Sweeter Than Fiction," a song Antonoff co-wrote with Taylor Swift for the Weinstein Co. film, One Chance, was released. The song was written in Antonoff's New York City apartment after he and Swift shared a love of a particular snare drum sound from a Fine Young Cannibals song. They brainstormed ideas by email before starting the songwriting process.[5][17]

fun. then played with musical heroes Queen in September 2013 at the iHeartRadio Music Festival, which was held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, U.S. Antonoff played Brian May's guitar during the rehearsal, which he described as the "most surreal experience ever."[18] The band then released a free six-song EP in December 2013, titled Before Shane Went to Bangkok: fun. Live in the USA.[10]

Antonoff announced a solo project called "Bleachers" in February 2014.[19] Antonoff explained in June 2014 that the project had been a consideration for around 10 years, and the name was inspired by the "disconnected, darker side" of suburban youth and John Hughes movies, which were "tied to a time when big songs were great songs." The songs for the debut Bleachers album were mostly written on Antonoff's laptop computer in hotel rooms during a fun. world tour.[5]

The Huffington Post published a positive review of Bleachers' first single, "I Wanna Get Better"—released on February 18—calling it the "catchiest song of 2014,"[20] while Time proclaimed, "[Bleachers] is more fun than fun."[21] Antonoff revealed the intent behind the debut single in a Rolling Stone interview:

I wanted to bridge the gap between Disclosure and Arcade Fire—something both streamlined and organic ... The production and songwriting is extremely over-the-top, extremely epic and unapologetic. The record is all about finding a world where you can be kind to yourself in.[19]

Antonoff explained to Rolling Stone that, while the song might sound joyous, "it's very desperate" and, like many of the other songs on the album is about loss.[19]

Antonoff worked with producers John Hill and Vince Clarke on the Bleachers studio album, as he sought to create "massive, beautiful pop songs that sound fuckin' cool." The completed album, Strange Desire, was released in July 2014, and "I Wanna Get Better" peaked at number one on the U.S. Alternative charts during the same week. In regard to Strange Desire, Antonoff said:

It doesn't have to be one or the other ... You don't have to [make] big pop songs that sound stupid and you don't have to make these fuckin' apologetic, tired droney songs that sound incredible. I really wanted both things to happen.[19]

"I Wanna Get Better" was eventually named number 18 in Rolling Stone's 50 Best Songs of 2014, with the publication describing the song as "therapy rock" that is "as fun as it is cathartic".[22]

Antonoff co-wrote and co-produced three songs on Swift's 1989, including the single, "Out of the Woods," 'I Wish You Would,' and the bonus track "You Are In Love." Released in October 2014, 1989 became the biggest-selling album in the U.S. in 2014.[23] On the deluxe version of the album, Swift explains in a voice memo that the song "I Wish You Would" originated from a guitar track that Antonoff had recorded on his smartphone. After Swift first heard the track, she asked Antonoff if she could develop the idea further, and it eventually became an album track after both songwriters were satisfied with Swift's work.[24]


Antonoff was nominated for a Golden Globe for his collaboration with Swift, "Sweeter Than Fiction."[17]

He won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for writing "We Are Young" with Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost & Jeff Bhasker and also won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for his work on Taylor Swift's 1989.[25]

Personal life

As of 2012, Antonoff has been dating Lena Dunham, whom he met on a blind date.[26] In response to queries about why Dunham was often seen naked on Girls, he explained, "I try to stay out of it ... There's no one stronger than Lena."[17]

When Antonoff first moved out of the family home near the end of 2012, he lived with his sister, Rachel, on the Upper West Side of New York City. Shortly afterward, he relocated to Brooklyn Heights to live with Dunham.[5]

In regard to his friendship with Swift, the two first met at the 2012 Europe Music Awards. He described the popular musician in June 2014 as "truly the nicest, most interesting person that I've met in that circle [mainstream music]." Antonoff described Swift as "a modern Joni Mitchell" during the same interview.[5]

In June 2014, Antonoff said he was "desperate" for kids, explaining:

It just seems like the most fun thing in the world. I've never met people who have kids who haven't looked me in the eye and been like, "It's the greatest thing that's ever happened." ... I think it's biological. I'm 30. I'm not that young, right? I'm not, like, 24 or 22. I'm no longer in the phase of my life where I talk about everything as in the future. Like, I'm in the future.[5]

Antonoff has spoken publicly about his struggles with depression, anxiety and obsessive–compulsive disorder. He claims that hearing of others' battles with depression made him feel "not better, but not alone" and "way less scared."[27] As of June 2014, Antonoff was seeing both a therapist and a psychopharmacologist, while also taking anti-anxiety medications. He has germophobia which was exacerbated by a bout of pneumonia that he suffered in 2011 while recording a fun. studio album. His pulmonologist prescribed a daily run, but he explained that he hates it "more than anything" because it is "one of the most truly boring experiences on Earth."

Music is central to Antonoff's life and he explained in June 2014:

I need a hobby, and I don't want it to be basketball ... I want it to be music. So to get away from music, I do other music. If I'm producing someone's song or writing with someone else, then doing a Bleachers song or a fun. song is an escape and it keeps me creative and it keeps me locked into what I want to do. If something's making me crazy, I need to go somewhere else and I don't want that thing to be yoga.[5]

Songwriting credits

Year Artist Song Co-written with U.S. peak
U.K. peak
2011 fun. "We Are Young" Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, Jeff Bhasker 1[11] 1[28]
2012 fun. "Some Nights" Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, Jeff Bhasker 3[29] 7[30]
Carly Rae Jepsen "Sweetie" Carly Rae Jepsen, Sara Quin, Klas Åhlund
2013 Tegan and Sara "How Come You Don't Want Me" Sara Quin, Tegan Quin[31]
Sara Bareilles "Brave" Sara Bareilles[32] 23 48
"Chasing the Sun" Sara Bareilles[32]
Taylor Swift "Sweeter Than Fiction" Taylor Swift[33] 34 45[34]
2014 Christina Perri "I Don't Wanna Break" Christina Perri[35]
Taylor Swift "Out of the Woods" Taylor Swift 18 136
"I Wish You Would"
"You Are In Love" 83
2015 Grimes, Bleachers "Entropy" Claire Boucher[36]
Troye Sivan "Heaven" Troye Sivan, Alex Hope, Claire Boucher
Rachel Platten "Stand by You" Rachel Platten, Joy Williams, Matthew Morris 37 115
2016 St. Lucia "Help Me Run Away" Jean-Philip Grobler[37]
Sia "House On Fire" Sia Furler[38]
Fifth Harmony "Dope" Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter




Steel Train

Albums listed in chronological order


See also


  1. 1 2 "Steel Train: Band Members", archived from the original Archived June 16, 2004, at the Wayback Machine. on April 25, 2014.
  2. Spanos, Brittany (2015-06-09). "Jack Antonoff: Why I'm Starting a New Jersey Music Festival". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  3. "CRUSH". Directors Notes. 2013-11-21. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  4. 1 2 Swerdloff, Alexis. "Sibling Success: The Power of 2", The New York Times, July 4, 2012. Accessed January 2, 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Yuan, Jada. "Jack Antonoff, a Pop Star a Mother Could Love". Vulture. Retrieved 2014-07-15.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Leichman, Joseph. "More powerful than a locomotive...", Jewish Standard, November 26, 2010. Accessed January 2, 2013. "Jack Antonoff of New Milford and Daniel Silbert of Tenafly first crossed paths in elementary school at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford, where they also met Evan Winiker, whose family moved to Teaneck in time for him to begin the sixth grade at Schechter. ....
  7. Aberback, Brian. "Pop-rock band Fun playing at Jingle Ball", The Record (Bergen County), December 5, 2012. Accessed January 3, 2012. "'The past year has been crazy in so many ways,' said guitarist Jack Antonoff, who grew up in New Milford and Woodcliff Lake."
  8. "AOL Radio – Listen to Free Online Radio – Free Internet Radio Stations and Music Playlists". Spinner.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  9. 1 2 "Profile: Andrew Dost ‹ CU IndependentCU Independent". Cuindependent.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  10. 1 2 Kory Grow (18 December 2013). "Fun. Ask 'What the F*ck' on Free Live EP". Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  11. 1 2 "Fun. Find Breakout Anthem With 'We Are Young'". MTV.com. 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  12. "Girls, Vol. 1 (Music from the HBO Original Series) [Deluxe Version] Various Artists". iTunes Preview. Apple Inc. 8 January 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  13. Hardeep Phull (23 January 2014). "How well do you know the Grammy nominees?". New York Post. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  14. Jason Lipshutz (24 June 2013). "Sara Bareilles' Blessed Unrest: Inside Her Personal & Professional Changes For New Album". Billboard. Billboard. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  15. "Sara Bareilles – Brave" (Video upload). SaraBareillesVEVO on YouTube. Google Inc. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  16. "SARA BAREILLES RACKS IN GRAMMY NOMINATIONS FOR "ALBUM OF THE YEAR" AND "BEST POP PERFORMANCE"". SARA BAREILLES. Sony Music Entertainment. 26 January 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  17. 1 2 3 Amy Kaufman (12 January 2014). "Golden Globes 2014: Jack Antonoff of fun. talks Taylor and Lena". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  18. Steve Baltin (21 September 2013). "How Queen Hooked Up with Fun. at iHeartRadio". Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  19. 1 2 3 4 Jon Blistein (19 February 2014). "Fun.'s Jack Antonoff Talks 'Over-the-Top' Solo Project Bleachers". Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  20. "Twitter / HuffPostEnt: Jack Antonoff has released". Twitter.com. 2014-02-18. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  21. Cox, Jamieson (2014-02-18). "Bleachers "I Wanna Get Better": Jack Antonoff's New Band's Debut Track | TIME.com". Entertainment.time.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  22. "50 Best Songs of 2014". Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  23. Keith Claufield (December 31, 2014). "Taylor Swift's '1989' Beats 'Frozen' As Top Selling Album of 2014". Billboard. Retrieved January 1, 2015.
  24. "1989 (Deluxe) Taylor Swift". iTunes Preview. Apple Inc. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  25. Greenburg, Zack O'Malley. "Grammy Winners 2016: The Full List". Forbes. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  26. "Girls' Lena Dunham Is Dating Fun.'s Jack Antonoff – Us Weekly". Usmagazine.com. 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  27. "Jack Antonoff Opens Up About Depression: 'It's Manageable If You Know You're Not Alone'". Huffingtonpost.com. 2015-06-18.
  28. "fun. hold off The Wanted to score first UK No.1 single – Music News". Digital Spy. 2012-05-27. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  29. "Fun. – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  30. "2012-10-06 Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive". Official Charts. 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  31. "Tegan and Sara / Heartthrob Press Kit" (PDF). Warner Bros. Records. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  32. 1 2 "Brave Webisode". Sony Music Entertainment. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  33. Bamigboye, Baz (August 2013). "Taylor-made for a maestro: Pop singer Swift so moved by film charting BGT's Paul Potts's rise to unlikely maestro she penned song for it". London: Mail Online.
  34. "Taylor Swift". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  35. "Brave Girls". Thelodgemastering.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  36. "Listen: Grimes and Bleachers Share New 'Girls' Song 'Entropy'".
  37. "St. Lucia / About". Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  38. Lindsay, Zoladz. "Sia's This Is Acting Is Full of Hits, Misses, and Some Great What-Ifs". Vulture. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
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