Ryan Tedder Talks Making the Band’s Poppiest Song Yet After Near-Breakdown

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Just one day before OneRepublic dropped their new song, “No Vacancy,” on Friday (April 28), frontman Ryan Tedder took to Facebook to give fans a little explanation as to why they’ve basically been MIA in the six months since releasing Oh My My. Instead of revealing that the (partial) hiatus was related to their upcoming material or pending summer tour, though, Tedder admitted something much more personal: The band came close to breaking up because he nearly suffered a mental breakdown.

In a lengthy open letter, Tedder explained the exhaustion that caused him to press pause on everything that was happening surrounding the album and OneRepublic as a band. But once he got the chance to go home, focus on his health, and really figure out what it was he wanted in terms of his own career and the future of his band, Tedder decided to do the opposite of quit. Rather, he got in the studio with other artists and created. One of those artists was Norwegian producer duo Stargate, with whom he wrote “No Vacancy” — a poppy, electronic track that’s an indication of the experimenting Tedder has been doing in the studio over the last four months.

Ahead of the single release, Billboard caught up with Tedder, a conversation during which the singer opened up about exactly what was addressed in his Facebook post. As expressed in the letter, in addition to the mental health matters, Tedder mentioned that his band will begin to release more new music than they’ve ever released before. This is because he’s found a new mindset since giving himself a break — one that he’s thrilled to start utilizing, beginning with “No Vacancy.” Below, hear Tedder’s take on how his near-breakdown actually resulted in the most flourishing point in his career, and take a listen to the new single.
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Ryan’s open letter

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Hi. So we’ve been quiet for a few months, haven’t been promoting our most recent album and staying silent on most everything. Figured some of you might wanna know why. We’ve been a band now for 10 years as of January, and in that time we have gone nonstop… album, tour, album, tour etc… on Native we toured 2 1/2 years… 50+ countries and 225 dates. We went straight from that into finishing ‘Oh My My’, our longest (and most difficult to finish), and straight from that into promo for ‘Wherever I Go’ in April 2016. About 3-4 weeks into the promo for the 2nd single ‘Kids’ I (Ryan) hit a physical, emotional, psychological wall. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, not sleeping, on meds, not happy, anxiety on a crippling level and it was triggered from sheer exhaustion. I looked at a calendar, realized I had been gone 200 days of 2016 and still had 3 more weeks of being gone.. From my family, my wife, my kids, my friends, basically my life. I also realized that had been the last 10 years. At that moment I wanted to quit, and almost did. I called my manager and said “pull the plug”… cancel tv’s cancel promo, cancel the single, cancel the album. At the time we had a tour planned for the US in February, straight into Europe and then the rest of the world. We were gonna be gone again, for ages. The thought of it literally sent me into a sweat and made me feel like I was going to have a heart attack. Crippling anxiety. It also made me stop writing songs. I didn’t have the motivation or joy necessary to. That’s over now.
‘Oh My My’ is my favorite album, it’s bonkers and eclectic and we planned on releasing/promoting lots of songs we wanted to get to, but that album is also what made me collapse… in addition to travel we had an inhuman amount of stress surrounding basic things like artwork and videos. Everywhere we turned something got messed up and had to be redone, at the cost of our time and lives and families. It was never ending. So, for the first time ever and hopefully the last, I asked our label (who is amazing) to stop. Stop the album, stop the promo, don’t release another song. Hit pause. And they did.
So now we are here. What does that mean for our band? We’ve taken 4 months off, I had to dive headfirst into writing for anything but 1R.. so I’ve been busy with a lot of other artists, having the most fun I’ve had in ages, but in those sessions occasionally a 1R idea pops out. Fortunately we still love what we do and love you guys immensely, and love performing live. LOOOOVE. So we are going to. But we are changing the entire scope of how we release music and approach touring.
I had the idea even before our last album of releasing “songs”… when we want, as often as we want, however we want. Not albums, songs. It’s always frustrated me that by the time u get to a 3rd, 4th or 5th single off an album that song may have been produced 2-3 years ago….and sounds dated. What if 3 months into an album you write a song that feels relevant NOW?? Albums aren’t built to be flexible or get out of their own way. So here’s what we’re gonna do. Starting tomorrow we will be dropping new music as often as humanly possible… monthly, weekly sometimes, and it will be VARIED and with collaborations and may feel bonkers at first. Some will be remixes others will be just me on piano or guitar. Some will sound super trendy and new, some will sound classic and old school or very “OneRepublic”. News flash: I am ADD AF and always have been. It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to stick to one lane or one style or sound, I am incapable of it and so are the rest of the guys. That’s part of my anxiety, “what this album supposed to sound like?!!” No more. We like too many styles of music to “sound like OneRepublic” 24/7. Newsflash 2: l have honestly never known what our sound is, not once. I leave that up to your interpretation of it. All I’m ever chasing is goosebumps or emotion or fun. Love, God, Hope. What else is there? In whatever shade or color that is– Currently I’m chasing it. I’m a songs guy, the sound is always evolving.
So…. some of these songs you’re absolutely gonna love… some you might totally hate, some will be a breath of fresh air and some you’ll skip. And guess what? It doesn’t matter. that’s the point. All the songs will be me singing and us playing. So it’s Us. We won’t be chasing trends but we will react to what’s around us, we won’t be trying to re-write songs from our past but some will unavoidably sound nostalgic. SONGS.
So whats ‘No Vacancy’ and where did it come from? I had a series of sessions with my friends Tor and Mikkel (Stargate) in early January. The 2nd song we wrote was No Vacancy. The session didn’t start as a song for OneRepublic, we were trying to write a Gotye style song for Selena actually, but when I sang the chorus it just felt right. The lyric idea started with me thinking about my kids and then I realized it was kinda just relatable to anyone. It had a Police vibe I loved… Tor sped it up and added the plucky guitar chords. A month later we ended up doing a concert in the Caribbean and that’s where I finished the lyrics and vocals and instrumental bits. As I said I react to what’s around me, thus the island vibe and palm trees etc….(and yes I realize I’m pronouncing “Vacancy” an odd way but how the hell else can it rhyme with “so damn empty!!??”). It’s not a first single, it’s a song for April. It’s fun, it’s summer, it’s a song some will love and some wont- I honestly don’t care. WE like it :). My goal for now is I want people to bliss out. We are in some dark times, we wanna make some lifted music that helps people feel happy. Feel connected, feel human, and love each other as much as possible. BLISS. OUT.
‘No Vacancy’ likely won’t sound like the next song we drop… or it may. We have more new music scheduled 2 weeks from tomorrow, so here’s the deal:
To all our fans: we hope you enjoy our new approach to releasing music, you will be hearing it as we make it. There are no “first singles”, there are no “album cycles”, there’s us getting inspired, writing a tune, and getting it to you fast as we can. Because of Streaming services we can finally do what I’ve wanted to do for years. Some songs you will love, some you may loathe, but guess what?? Wait another couple weeks and you’ll have something new that may just be your favorite thing ever. We will tour when it makes sense, put out artwork when it’s good, and we are making merch WE wanna wear… for you. We will go to radio with songs when it feels like we should, not before. And we will tour… but not so much we end up hating life.
Love you, hope you enjoy No Vacancy, it’s simply one shade of a sound that we like this month, and tomorrow, I’m gonna write something totally different.
XO
Ryan T.

Ryan Tedder on his near breakdown, new OneRepublic and working with other artists

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I’m walking away from the album idea for a while. I decided in October—ironically when we [released] the album. A lot of our fans have been asking incessantly, “What’s going on? Are you walking away from the album?” I’ve been going nonstop for 10 years. We handed in [ Oh My My ] and pretty much the month later, I hit a wall of exhaustion. I pretty much had a breakdown. I got to November and collapsed. I lost it in a hotel room. I’d been gone 220 days in 2016 and it wasn’t even a touring year.

I called my manager and said, “Stop everything.” He said, “You just put an album out.” I said, “I don’t care—I’m close to quitting.” I stopped everything and walked away from the band thing over the holidays. I came back in January and my manager was like, “What do you want to do with this album?” I had to peel the bandaid off. I said, “I can’t deal with that album. I can’t promote it, I don’t have any energy left. I need to stay in one city and I need to write songs, and I need to work on other people’s shit.”

I took the last three to four months only doing songs for other people. Every now and then a song would pop up that would feel like OneRepublic and I’d move it into a separate folder [on my computer]. I have enough of those now that we told the label, “Let’s start putting out new music.” We are going to play songs off Oh My My on tour, but the psychological toll it takes to make an album…I can’t do that for a while. So we’re just doing new music all the time.

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Ryan Tedder Should Be Your Business Role Model: Ask Bono And Paul McCartney

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Summer means touring season in the music business and Live Nation is celebrating the very busy 2017 season by declaring May 1 National Concert Day. To mark the occasion they will hold a concert at New York’s Irving Plaza that day with Jason Alden, the Roots, Foreigner, Daughtry and more.

Of more importance to the average concertgoer is Live Nation will make more than one million tickets available for summer tours at $20 each, that is total, with no service charges. For a complete list of tours included visit http://kickofftosummer.hvnlnna.com/.

The day after the Irving Plaza promotion, One Republic, who will be headlining the Honda Civic tour this summer with Fitz And The Tantrums and James Arthur, will be performing on the Today Show to help kick off the ticket promotion.

I spoke with One Republic frontman Ryan Tedder, who is also one of music’s most prolific producers and songwriters. If you want to know how he became a star to music’s biggest artists just read on. His work ethic and approach are applicable to any business and should make him your new business coach. And he has some of the best stories in music, like the time he was in studio with Bono and the Pope called Bono.
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OneRepublic to perform at 2017 Singapore Grand Prix

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OneRepublic, together with English rock band Duran Duran will be performing at this year’s Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, organisers announced on Tuesday (April 25).

They will be joined by Ariana Grande, The Chainsmokers, George The Poet, Lianne La Havas and Seal in performances lined up over the three-day weekend in September from the 15th to 17th.

One Republic will be playing at the Padang stage in Zone 4, after the last track activity on Friday (Sept 15), for tickets & details go to http://www.singaporegp.sg/media/press-release/227#year.