As OneRepublic’s episode of “Once In a Lifetime Sessions” streams on Netflix, Ryan Tedder is busy readying the group’s next musical statement — a new album for release during 2019.
“I might be one of the only people this week still in the studio, ’cause I have to wrap vocals on a bunch of stuff,” Tedder tells Billboard. He reports that the group has a tentative title (which he’s not revealing) for its fifth studio album, the follow-up to 2016’s Oh My My, and is planning out the artwork for it as well. “This is stuff I’m the most excited about in years,” he reports — and it has been years, at least a couple, since Tedder has been this engaged in music-making, period.
The prolific singer, songwriter and producer acknowledges that he hit “maximum burnout” by the end of 2016, after “ten years of nonstop touring and nonstop promotion — just nonstop, never saying no to anything. We were, like, the band that said ‘yes.’ That’s’ why everybody loved us.” The work load — including Tedder’s numerous collaborations with other artists — took its toll, and Tedder decided to step back for “a lot of soul-searching during the past two years.”
“I had this crisis of conscience,” he says, “where I was like, ‘Why are we making records? Why do people need to hear me talk about my life anymore? What is there to say?’ I don’t want to write songs just to write songs, especially not for [OneRepublic]. So I had to live life for the last two years to gather enough experiences — frankly, doing things that had nothing to do with OneRepublic or trying to write hit records for people — so I’m not just putting out music.”
During that time Tedder did some collaborating — with Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes, Jessie Ware, Paul McCartney and other major artists, most recently the Backstreet Boys on the new single “Chances” (originally written for Mendes). He also worked in commercial real estate and developed a couple of television shows, including one with Simon Fuller that’s slated to premiere during 2019.
“I think that was the best thing I could’ve done, because it reinvigorated me,” Tedder, who has a number of other artist collaborations in the works as well, says about dialing back. “Here I am back making records for people I love, and I have a bunch of singles coming out. I feel like I have a third or fourth wind in me and am excited about doing music and feel like I actually have something to say. But it took stepping away from it and letting all the dust settle from the last two years of streaming taking over the planet and tilting the axis of music.”
A timetable is currently being worked out for the OneRepublic album. In the meantime Tedder is happy to have the Netflix show, part of “Once In a Lifetime Sessions'” second season, as a placeholder until the new music starts rolling out.
“It’s awesome,” Tedder says. “We were all beyond impressed with the level of production and the quality, from the interviews to the actual concert itself. We’ve done so many TV things in the last 11 years that you get a real temperature for people who know what they’re doing or are just hacking it and throwing it together. This one felt pretty amazing. There’s a lot of thought and a lot of effort put into it, and we were all happy with the experience.”