OneRepublic’s new album, Native, is a hit with the general public so far–landing in the top 5 on this week’s Billboard 200 chart–but the band was actually going for a very specific demographic with this record.
Ryan Tedder admitted to Radio.com that they picked “If I Lose Myself” as their first single because of the reaction it got from a bunch of dudes in their early twenties. Their engineer, without the band knowing, had played the song for his friends who thought the song was really good.
“That’s kind of a good test for bands,” Tedder explained. “If you can get guys in their early twenties to believe in something, and to be like, ‘Yeah, I’d get that or I’d go to see that’…it’s not lame.”
Some bands say they just want fans and don’t care who they are, but Tedder said when he looks out into the crowd he wants to see men and women. The singer said male fans tend to stick around if you hook them in when they’re young. “If a guy likes a band at 15 or 18 or 21, when he’s 31 he’ll go see them again,” he said.
For Tedder it was important that OneRepublic expand their sound with their third album and try to earn new fans. To him, it’s the bands that keep pushing the boundaries that have long, prosperous careers.
“At the end of the day, you have options as an artist,” Tedder explained. “You can be on that five to ten year period and become nostalgic and frankly the butt of a joke like 99% of the bands from the ’90s and the early 2000s. I could name a bunch right now that were really great when they were out and they had that moment, but now you talk about them and you have to Google them to figure out what they’re doing.”
Tedder says the reason that happened to so many bands is because they refused to change their sound, instead they kept sticking with what worked at the time they had a hit single. Unfortunately that doesn’t work forever.
“U2 can still play stadiums because people still care,” he said. “They’re still relevant, whereas Collective Soul you’re like, ‘Oh the ’90s.’ They’re not bad [but] they didn’t evolve.”
For Tedder the worst thing a band can do is start drinking their own Kool-Aid. “They’re like, ‘Our last album sold a million copies and we had two hits and we’re going to go into a barn in Texas and you can suck it,” he said. “The second you realize you have completely missed the boat and your album sucks then all of a sudden you’re scrambling.”
OneRepublic never wants to be in that position. That’s why on Native the band tried to evolve their sound on every song. Not so far that they would lose their tried and true fans, but enough to keep things exciting for old and new fans alike.
“I don’t ever want that call from VH1’s Where Are They Now?,” Tedder said. “I always want to be connecting with the fans.”