OneRepublic talks MySpace, dinner parties and their upcoming album
Ever since their hit “Apologise” (a.k.a ‘it’s too late to apologiiiiiiiiiisse’) propelled them to fame in 2005, OneRepublic haven’t looked back. They’ve amassed a global following with their cinematic brand of pop, released three critically acclaimed albums (with another on the way) and become one of the most successful musical acts of our time. Having travelled to Australia to promote their upcoming album, Pulp sat down with founding member, guitarist Zach Filkins, to discuss touring, singles and MySpace.
Given that you guys really shot to fame through MySpace, is it weird to not see MySpace around as much these days?
It actually is, yeah. It’s quite sad to me. I just re-watched The Social Network on one of the flights over here, and they made a reference to MySpace, and it completely reminded me of when we started out. It almost made me sad because that was such a special time. The fact that MySpace provided an outlet for our music was one of the reasons we didn’t quit as a band. After so many things going wrong for the band at that time, MySpace really helped us to get on our feet and avoid having to go back to uni
You play the viola on some of the band’s tracks, and you’re also quite an experienced classical guitarist. What influence do you feel those skills add to the band’s work?
It’s actually great because it gives us this completely different perspective. Ryan (singer, Ryan Tedder) is a trained classical piano player and Brent (bass player, Brent Kutzle) is a really accomplished cellist, and I think those skills really dictate a lot of our decisions, and give our music this kind of cinematic quality. I know that without those hours of practising our original instruments, our music would be so much different. It adds this emotive, dynamic quality I think.
Your most recent world tour finished at the end of last year, but started way back in April 2013, What was it like to be on the road for such a long time?
See, it freaks me out just hearing that it started that long ago (laughs). It was exhausting. I remember we finished the last leg of our tour in South Africa, then we flew back home to America and played one last show in Vegas. I remember getting home to my house and not knowing what timezone I was in or anything. And I remember not being able to turn on the radio for like a week, because there was just this deep level of exhaustion. I just didn’t want to listen to music for a while because I was so done. But then there were huge positives too. We visited almost sixty countries, and got to connect with as many fans as we possibly could. And there were countries we hadn’t been to before, especially in Eastern Europe and South America. I mean even though it was exhausting, it was great to meet new people and see new cultures.
In all those gigs, where do you reckon the best crowd was?
That’s hard to say. One show I remember vividly was right at the start of the last leg of the tour in Tel Aviv. That was one of the most magical moments. We’d never been there before, and we didn’t know what to expect. And I mean it’s always nice when you get told there’s going to be 5,000 people out there and then there ends up being 30,000. So that was great, that gig was so well-received.
From what I understand, your new single, “Wherever I Go” was recorded in 2015. Did you record that after the tour or during it?
During the tour. It’s funny because most of the songs on the album were started on the tour in our hotel rooms. Ryan has a better memory for specifics, he could probably tell you in what specific country and what specific room each song was first written. But yeah, it was really cool because the birth of the album was all around the planet. I think we’re inspired by that mode of songwriting. I mean we can’t just go down to Denver and lock ourselves in a studio and go “ok let’s write a song”. I think the best way to do it is to write while travelling, because you get the gleam and the vibe of the city. Normally too, when we record a twelve-song album, we write twelve songs. This time though we had fifty or sixty demos and more time to write and work on the songs, so the process was a bit different.
“Wherever I Go” is the first single you’ve released since 2014. What about that track made you decide to release it as your first piece of new material in so long?
I think because it was different. We wanted to start with something different. It doesn’t really relate to the last songs we released as singles. I think too the album represents our transition into the evolution of what’s next for us. The album isn’t all like “Wherever I Go”, but there are connect-the-dots moments between the single and Native (OneRepublic’s previous album). “Wherever I Go” is a bit like the cover of the book. The way it’s laid out is a little different too, it’s more of a journey with different chapters than your typical “verse-chorus-verse-chorus” song.
If you could host a musical dinner party, and have three music-related guests, who would they be?
That’s a good question. I think I’d have to say Led Zeppelin from the late ‘60s, obviously The Beatles…and personally for me, Bruce Springsteen.
If there was one song you wish you’d written, what would it be?
I think I’d have to go with a song we’ve covered live a number of times before; “What A Wonderful World”. I’m not sure what (Louis Armstrong) was drinking when he wrote that, but it just has this energy. It just leaves everyone feeling great.