NEW YORK – Ryan Tedder has been the mastermind behind hits for stars such as Adele, Beyonce and Leona Lewis, but on his band’s new album, the Grammy winner gets help from other hit-makers.
Tedder’s name is all over the credits on “Native,” OneRepublic’s third album. But other players helped shape the band’s latest sound, including Benny Blanco, who co-produced hits like Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” and Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” and Jeff Bhasker, who produced fun.’s Grammy-winning breakthrough album, “Some Nights.”
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“I was very clear with them,” said Tedder, who added that taking a back seat to other producers was both “scary and exciting.”
“I was like, ‘We’re not Maroon 5. We’re not fun,’” he said.
OneRepublic’s lead single, “If I Lose Myself,” was co-produced by Blanco, and Bhasker adds his drum-filled sound to “Can’t Stop.” The album also features producer Philippe Zdar, best known his work with French critical darlings Phoenix.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Tedder, 33, talked about collaborating with other artists, the state of rock music on Top 40 radio and “Native,” which OneRepublic recorded in Greece, Paris, London, New York, Seattle, Vancouver, Canada and Colorado.
AP: You’ve produced for many acts. What was it like having others come into your musical space?
Tedder: I happened to work with Benny and Bhasker in the middle of, probably the both of them, the greatest run of hits in their lives. ... I don’t want the one time I go outside my box and collaborate with somebody be the song that doesn’t work. You’re always like slightly terrified. ... No offense to them, but I didn’t want their palate or their sound to then define us.
AP: So how did you work everything out?
Tedder: The one Bhasker did and one of the two Benny did, I knew fundamentally I’m not the guy to do this. I’m not the right producer to do this record. I’m not getting it right. This record sounds like such a huge, huge, important moment and I’m missing it.
AP: It’s been almost four years since the band released an album. Why?
Tedder: (It) never was our intention. We thought two years most between album cycles, but to be honest, the last single we put out on our second album, ‘Good Life,’ became this, it just kept going. ... And every time we turned around, we’d get another offer to do this and play this show or do this gig or do this TV thing ... but that’s just the nature of this band. Our songs, just in America for some reason, take twice as long as they do everywhere else to do their thing. ... We don’t have that kind of Rihanna, Bruno Mars luck.
AP: Why do you think that is?
Tedder: Bands in general have a rough go when it comes to radio. ... (Mumford & Sons’) ‘I Will Wait,’ I think that thing came out like seven or eight months ago, and it’s just (recently) climbing in Top 40. ... You take Katy Perry or Britney (Spears) or Ke$ha and everything’s intended to explode immediately and kind of go away. Those records have a certain sound to them. They’re very much more programmed in the computer, kind of locked and gridded, and dance music is similar. Anytime you have something that’s live, something that sounds like a band sitting in a room playing, it takes longer to connect in America. ... Lumineers’ ‘Ho Hey,’ I think I bought that song almost a year ago.
AP: Same deal with Of Monsters and Men’s “Little Talks”?
Tedder: I bought that album the day it came out (last year).
AP: Even Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” didn’t seem like it would become a radio hit, and I wasn’t sure Top 40 radio would play the track.
Tedder: I thought the same thing. When I handed in the demo of ‘Rumour Has It’ (which Tedder produced and co-wrote), her label said, ‘Oh, this is such a radio hit for us. This is great.’ I didn’t want to say anything contrary to that, but in my mind I was thinking, ‘You’re crazy. None of this is radio.’ I didn’t work with Adele to get on the radio. That’s not the kind of move you make. ... But that’s what I love about culture, if you get too much candy or too much of the hyperengineered-to-be-No. 1 type records – which there’s a ton of them out and they’re all done by the same two or three guys – you hear enough of that and all you want to hear is the other stuff.
AP: At the 2012 Grammys, you talked about how rock music was sort of dying on Top 40 radio. Would you say that’s changed?
Tedder: ... That very month at the Grammys, fun. released ‘We Are Young.’ Two months later, Imagine Dragons came out. ... Of Monsters and Men, Lumineers and ... I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ It just went from no bands to lots of bands. Having said that, rock as Dave Grohl would define it is still not in my mind really happening. ... In terms of radio, rock as it’s been defined in the ’90s is just not happening. I’m sure it will come around.