OneRepublic frontman and songwriter Ryan Tedder has consciously followed the band’s mega-hit record with a new sounding record that is more true to their self-perception as a band but may very well be everything that album’s standout hit “Apologize” is not. That, as Al Franken may have said as Stuart Smalley, is “O-K.” Tedder’s a little nervous anyway.
“You know it’s funny I was thinking today “man, did I stab myself in back with that one?,” he asked rhetorically in an interview last Friday from a New York pub. “But, I didn’t want to do ‘Apologize Part 2.’ Once I crack a code, it’s not in my nature to go back.”
Even with a new sound, Tedder is confident the new album, which drops today, and is called “Waking Up” will offer something for everyone: ladies who swooned at every “Apologize” line or Timbaland “ay” and more.
Why should he doubt himself? Everything this guy touches turns to gold. Whether it’s the aforementioned single, its follow-up “Stop and Stare,” or “Bleeding Love,” a song in which he cowrote and Leona Lewis performed.
I asked the OneRepublic star about the album, his hopes and aspirations in the business, and yes, about that song that has had the magical ability to never leave radio airplay.
Your new single “All the Right Moves” sounds so vastly different than “Apologize.” I take it that was a conscious decision.
Oh, yes. Most artists don’t dig in. They keep putting out the same stuff. It’s artists doing the same album differently and playing arenas. But, I can’t do that. I have this chip in my head that prevents me from doing the same thing again and again and again. “All the Right Moves” feels like a hit. It already is in countries over the world, but every day I’m still nervous about it. I just have no desire to chase prior songs.
“Apologize” was so ginormous though. Did you have any pressure as a band to recreate it or raise your game?
There’s an unspoken pressure, but I thrive off of pressure. That’s my whole life. The new album needed hits and there are already 3 or 4. The first single in Germany hit Number 1 last week. It’s pretty significant to us. We see it working. We didn’t just decide one day “oh enough with all of this commercial success, we’re going to go indie and make a Pavement” record. We felt the first album did not accurately represent us. It was an album we made five years ago, and written six years ago. We were signed and dropped by Columbia Records so [by the time the record was released] we were tired of that sound.
What’s different this time around?
We can move around within this sound. There was no room to move on the first album. It did well but it was a bit homogenius. This album is more exciting and we took some necessary risks to grow.
Do you wince when you play “Apologize” live?
I’ve got to be dead honest. I still love it. It’s the reason it got played so many times. I asked a program director once how he keeps playing it, and we’ve been told the song has zero burn. It doesn’t burn – no matter how much you play it. It’s non-invasive, and non-threatening. Every night I play it, I still know what the song did for us. I love hearing the fans singing it. To me, it connected with the consciousness of the world.
Do you feel fortunate that the follow-up “Stop and Stare” was a success, too?
We’d rather be a two-hit wonder, right? [Laughs]. We always knew “Stop and Stare” would be the follow-up single. Thank God for that song. We shook hands if “Apologize” was the biggest hit on the album, we were done. We were not going to be that band on VH1 “Where Are They Now?” We’d rather bow out.
How big is radio play for you guys now with the new sound, new record?
Radio is a constantly changing organism. You have to work a record. Nothing is a given. For us, you have to earn your stripes. We want to get to a point where it doesn’t matter if we have a hit or not, and we can tour.
Lastly, how’s the tour going so far with the new material?
We’re opening for Rob Thomas, and [reviews have said] “OneRepublic: we had no idea they could do what they do live.” I dig that. If you just heard our two hits you’d [figure] “oh here’s The Calling and it’s 2008.” There’s no question the second album was written to evolve us and make us more cohesive.