Watch Jack Antonoff and Nardwuar Talk 'Watch the Throne,' Music Scenes and Ron Sexsmith

JAY-Z and Kanye were ready to rap on Fun.'s "We are Young"

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished May 10, 2024

Long before all his star-making with Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff had a titan of hip-hop crown himself "the king of Coachella" on a Diamond-certified single by his band Fun. — a version of the song the in-demand producer has yet to hear for himself.

Antonoff was asked about an unreleased version of Fun.'s "We Are Young" featuring Watch the Throne-era JAY-Z and Kanye West during an interview with Nardwuar the Human Serviette earlier this year at Coachella 2024.

The Bleachers bandleader recalled how, in 2011, producer Jeff Bhasker was working both with Fun. on the material that would form second album Some Nights, and JAY-Z and West on Watch the Throne. Bhasker has previously noted in interviews how "We Are Young" was "an inch" away from appearing on the duo's monumental collaborative LP.

"We were told the chorus was taken, and that JAY-Z and Kanye had made the song," Antonoff said, seeing "We Are Young" appear on a leaked Watch the Throne tracklist before it was pulled ahead of the album's release.

"The story I heard was that JAY-Z thought ['We Are Young'] was too pop," Antonoff said of the decision, "He may have been right, because it ended up becoming a big pop song. But I've never heard this [version].

"The one bit of information I got to hear about the JAY-Z version of 'We Are Young' is that at some point, he shouts something like, 'Lighters up, I'm the king of Bonnaroo, I'm the king of Coachella.' And I don't think I'll ever hear this song, and at this point, I don't want to!"

Antonoff also shared plenty of reflection about his concertgoing days in New Jersey, recalling all sorts of shows he and his friends would attend at Wayne Firehouse — including At the Drive-In, the Aquabats, Boy Sets Fire, Saves the Day, and the Get Up Kids. Naturally, Nardwuar then produces a poster for a benefit show a young Antonoff played at the venue with early band Outline, who he says "sounded a lot like Kid Dynamite."

At the end of the interview, Antonoff gave a shoutout to Ron Sexsmith, the acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter who could be the producer's strangest celebrity encounter.

As Antonoff detailed in his 2017 Exclaim! Questionnaire, "Ron Sexsmith, who's a great Canadian artist, once came up to me and thought I was Albert Hammond Jr. from the Strokes, because I used to have my hair all big like that. He just started talking to me like I was in the Strokes about experiences that we'd had together, even though he didn't know me. But I was a really big Ron Sexsmith fan at the time, so I was blown away that he came up to me."

Gifts for Antonoff include a pair of Jeff Lynne-related vinyl records, a bobblehead of Agnostic Front's founding guitarist Vinnie Stigma, Minor Threat's Out of Step Outtakes 7-inch and a Nardwuar-branded boost guitar pedal.

Antonoff recently shared a self-titled Bleachers album and helped produce a diss track from Kendrick Lamar.

Nardwuar's recent uploads from his time at Coachella 2024 include interviews with Skepta, Renee Rapp, Ken Carson and 21 Savage.

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