Bleachers' Jack Antonoff Explains Why He'd Rather Play Indiana Than Boycott

Daniel Silbert
Jack Antonoff of Bleachers

Although he's an outspoken critic of Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Jack Antonoff says he has no desire to boycott the state and bow out of Bleachers' Indianapolis performance on Saturday.

"I'm proud to go there," Antonoff tells Billboard of his upcoming show at NCAA's March Madness Festival. "I think it's important to go and to be working with different organizations there and to raise money. I'm gonna do press on the issue. That to me is how you really make a difference. I never understood the idea of canceling a show when you don't like the politics of a specific state. The politics don't speak for everyone in that particular state; I would argue they probably don't speak for most of the people in that state, but that's who their leader is and [Gov. Mike] Pence is obviously a piece of shit and I'm excited to go and say that on stage."

Following the firestorm of controversy around the law, Pence has asked state lawmakers to amend it to make clear that it does not discriminate against the LGBT community and others.

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Antonoff says he's noticed some social media activity in recent days -- mostly from those who don't appreciate the stance he's taken. "I've ended up on some website list or some other list for super right-wing people," he notes. "They've been tweeting some pretty rude stuff at me, so I think there's a sect of America out there that doesn't like certain opinions and can really take their claws out when they don't like what you're saying."

On a lighter note, Antonoff says he hasn't established a rooting interest in the Final Four games, which take place Saturday and Monday. "I'm not super into sports," he confesses, "but the crowd in Madison, Wisc., last night got me hyped up, so I'm slightly more interested now." Bleachers plays Friday in Detroit, where some Michigan State fans will likely have their say about who he should root for, too. "I think I'm going to go to the games, but honestly, with everything going on I feel like this political issue is going to completely be the talking point of the event."

Bleachers is slated to return to Indianapolis on June 7 for another show and currently has concerts booked into July, including appearances at the Rock in Rio USA festival in Las Vegas, the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, the Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati and Bonnaroo in Tennessee.

Antonoff says there's also an announcing coming soon about "something really cool that we're doing in the summer...more touring coming." Meanwhile, he's starting to on a follow-up Bleachers' debut album, Strange Desire, which he plans to write and record by himself again even though he's established a touring lineup for the band.

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"The real center of the project was me playing with these ideas, alone, so I'll do it the same way this time," Antonoff says. "The ideas...have been coming lately. We're still in that phase of just trying anything. That's a really important phase of writing; you can't go out and say, 'I'm gonna write this kind of song' or 'this kind of album.' You have to at lest have some period of time where you're just trying things and you're letting things happen, and that's where I'm at right now."

He has more time to do that now, of course, since his other band, fun., is on an open-ended hiatus while its members pursue their own projects. And Antonoff says he isn't worrying much about when that situation will change. "Everything evolved pretty naturally," he explained. "I think it's all about making records when you're inspired to make them. For me, [Bleachers] is what I'm really digging into at the moment. You don't' want to just go in and make a record [with fun.] 'cause it seems like a good idea to make one. So everything has felt pretty natural as far as that goes, and it's just kind of about timing things to where they're happening because you're inspired to make them happen, not just because you think you should."