Q&A: Pop-Rock Band OneRepublic
On their brand-new album Native, writing songs, and their favorite parts of Boston.
OneRepublic visited Boston last night for a private concert event for Starwood Preferred Guests, and the Colorado-bred pop-rock band had a lot to say about this fine city. OneRepublic, which consists of lead singer Ryan Tedder and bandmates Zach Filkins, Drew Brown, Eddie Fisher, and Brent Kutzle, is an award-winning band that achieved massive success in 2007 with their hit song “Apologize.” The song was remixed by Timbaland on his album Shock Value, and it received record amounts of airplay time in just its first week. Now, OneRepublic is Grammy-nominated with several chart-topping singles like “Stop and Stare” and “Secrets.” And a song off their new album Native, called “I Lived,” was featured in The Office series finale two week ago. The band talks to us about songwriting, touring, and why Boston is one of their favorite cities.
So you guys have been doing a bunch of small shows in a partnership with LiveNation and Starwood, along with other artists like Sara Bareilles, Imagine Dragons, and Gavin DeGraw. How does that work for you guys? Do you get to pick which cities you’d like to play?
Ryan Tedder: Well, how that works is…we have no idea, [but] if it were pick and choose, funny enough, Boston would have been one of our top, easily, three cities at any given point in the U.S.
Next to which other cities?
RT: Boston, San Fran, and maybe New York. Or New Orleans. But Boston, you know—it’s not a hard sell to spend some time in Boston.
Where else have you guys played here in Boston?
Drew Brown: We’ve played the Orpheum Theatre. And the outdoor amphitheater with John Mayer a few years ago.
RT: Yes! That’s where we’re playing this summer. We’ve also played at the House of Blues, and we’ve played at a small dive-like place where U2 and The Police have played.
What about any of our local radio shows?
DB: We have got invited before but we couldn’t play it! We got snowed in.
That’s typical of Boston.
DB: The first show we ever had to cancel was ironically the fifth show we ever had booked. It was a radio show and we got stuck in Connecticut. It was also the first time as a band we’ve had to put snow chains on a bus. And there was four of us out doing it. So interesting.
So let’s stray toward the topic of your new album Native. How is this album different from your last two?
DB: Generally, in a lot of ways, it’s better and more realized. It’s the album that we’ve wanted to make. To a degree, that’s always the case, but you figure out as you go, by making albums and keep on going as a band, your vision of what you want to represent. Your form of an album becomes more clear. We started recording [Native] a little over a year ago, off and on.
What is the song-writing process like for you guys?
RT: In the past, we’ve all gotten together in a room and hammered out. But more often than not, what ends up [happening] is you end up hammering away for weeks and weeks and months and months. And I now don’t know any bands that actually do that. Usually, it’s a couple guys who start with an idea and send it off to the other guys to see if they can add to it, or don’t add, and then you set aside time to actually go and record it, depending on what actually needs to be recorded. But oftentimes with us and other bands that I know, if you get four or five people in a room and try to be creative at the same time, you end up with an eight-minute jam-session. And in that eight minutes there are probably 30 seconds that are really cool, but nothing seems to transpire into a song that you’re crazy about. But, I mean, we have had a couple songs turn out pretty awesome doing it that way.
Finally, what’s your favorite part of being in Boston?
RT: I love the whole city to be entirely honest. I love Cambridge and Somerville, but I’m a huge sucker for anything that’s crazy old and historic. So obviously the Faneuil Hall area is touristy, but when you think of the history with the Bell in Hand and the Oyster House, it’s kind of astonishing. I was walking around Harvard today and I can’t think of another campus—other than maybe Yale—with so much history. I mean, my own campus was built in 1963 and it looks like some Jetsons nightmare or something. Harvard’s just…I walked around the campus thinking, “I can’t believe people actually go here.”
Eddie Fisher: About a year ago we took a boat around the harbor for the first time. We were playing a local gig or something in the Harvard area. I remember the program director just relocated from Denver, so—small world!
Brent Kutzle: Yeah. I mean, we just love Boston.
OneRepublic will be back in Boston on tour August 1 at the Bank of America Pavilion.