The Format were an American indie rock band formed by Nate Ruess and Sam Means. The band announced a hiatus on February 4, 2008. Their style can be considered mixture of indie, alternative, punk and folk music, with elements of 1960s and 1970s pop music. Though Means and Ruess are the foremost members of the band, they have played, toured, and recorded with Mike Schey, Mark Buzard, Don Raymond, and—for the DVD recording and summer 2007 tour—The Honorary Title’s current drummer and The Format alumnus Adam Boyd. The Format chose their name to make fun of the music industry’s inclination towards a cookie-cutter “format” for a hit.
Before forming The Format in 2001, Means and Ruess, who had been friends since grade school, had been part of the band Nevergonnascore and released the EP “The Byron Sessions” as well as the band This Past Year, which had generated some record label interest but not a deal.
The duo’s first single, aptly titled “The First Single” from their five song demo, EP, became locally popular on Phoenix radio station KEDJ and led to the duo signing with Elektra Records in 2002. Their first studio album, Interventions + Lullabies, recorded and produced by R. Walt Vincent and released in October 2003, was very successful around the Phoenix area. The band’s fan base grew due to word of mouth, the Internet, and extensive touring. The album sold over 100,000 copies in the US.
After Elektra folded, The Format released a second EP, Snails, with sister label Atlantic Records in April 2005. As they began to work on their second full-length album, they drew on the influences of 1970s pop music, including Harry Nilsson, Electric Light Orchestra and The Beach Boys, and decided to collaborate with Redd Kross founder Steven Shane McDonald whom they brought on as record producer. But Atlantic Records executives were not impressed by the 1970s-pop-influenced demos and released The Format from its contract. Upon completing the album, Dog Problems, Ruess and Means, with help from their management company, decided to release it themselves through their newly established imprint label: The Vanity Label. Two months prior to the album’s release, an MP3 version was leaked to the internet. In response, The Format decided to make the album immediately available digitally for only $7.99 via the Nettwerk Music Store, which led to the sale of over 2,000 digital copies prior to the album’s official release. Dog Problems was released in stores on July 11, 2006. The day the album was released, an episode of MTV’s My Super Sweet 16 featuring The Format aired, on which they performed at a birthday-graduation party for Priya and Divya Kothapalli.
Following the release of Dog Problems, The Format gained more attention, receiving high marks from various publications, even topping some Best of 2006 lists.
In 2006 The Format toured near constantly, supporting their own album Dog Problems as well as supporting The All American Rejects in September in the UK.
In 2007, The Format played a show in Tokyo, Japan, was featured on Last Call with Carson Daly twice, co-headlined with Guster on their Campus Consciousness tour, and toured with Reubens Accomplice, Piebald, Limbeck, Steel Train, and The Honorary Title.
The Japanese edition of Dog Problems, featuring a cover of Jellyfish’s “Glutton of Sympathy” as a bonus track, was released on January 24, 2007.
On June 25, 2007, celebrating the one-year anniversary of Dog Problems, The Format offered the album in its entirety, including the liner notes in PDF form, for free on their official website. The offer was valid from June 25 to July 16, 2007. As of July 10, 2007, 36,000 people had downloaded the album.
On February 4, 2008, The Format announced that they will be putting the band on hiatus, with Nate Ruess posting the following message on the band’s website:
We have just put out word that we will not be making a new Format album. Please understand this was a tough decision and we’re both upset about it. While we accept there will be false speculation as to why, understand that Sam and I remain extremely close and in fact are still passing the Twin Peaks box set back and forth in an attempt to figure out who REALLY killed Laura Palmer. We also want to thank everyone with and within the Format, particularly Mike, Don, and Marko, whom without, none of this would have ever even been fully realized. We both suggest you support their musical talents and whatever they decide to do. And lastly we want to thank the fans who made this the best 5 years of our lives.
Means has completed solo work, including scoring the soundtrack to the film The Sinking of Santa Isabel, as well as forming Destry with former Straylight Run singer Michelle DaRosa.
When asked about the band getting back together, Ruess acknowledged that “every one of us like to remain optimistic and hopeful that it one day could happen.”
Following The Format’s 2008 breakup, Ruess joined with Andrew Dost of Anathallo and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train to form Fun, a band that has gone on to more commercial success than any of its associated former acts, with the pop hits “We Are Young” and “Some Nights” becoming some of the most popular songs of 2012. Fun began recording their debut album, Aim and Ignite, in September 2008 with producer Steven Shane McDonald and arranger Roger Joseph Manning Jr.; it was released on August 25, 2009.