We had the pleasure of hanging out with Eddie Fisher, Drew Brown, and Zach Filkins from OneRepublic on their tour bus last week. We chatted with the guys about the new album, the success of ‘Apologize’, and where they the music industry is headed. Check it out below.
What’s the journey been like since ‘Apologize’ came out?
Drew Brown- It’s been pretty nuts. We’ve seen between twenty and twenty seven countries that we hadn’t seen before. It’s been really rad. We’ve been really super fortunate to be able to cover almost every territory that has been into our band. It all kind of happened everywhere at the same rate it did here so it was really exciting. It’s crazy because we toured for a solid year and a half. Then we actually got to have our first break for a while in forever. So now we’re kind of back with a different perspective than I think we had going into it.
Tell me a little bit about the new album compared to the old album? What’s the musical evolution for you guys?
Eddie Fisher: I think it’s more percussive. It has more strings, gang vocals; it has everyone singing on it. Drew and Zach are doing a lot of different things; glockenspiel, viola, hand claps, and whistles. Drew is singing a lot of background vocals.
Zach Filkins: We felt like we had to take a different approach to making this record. We sort of looked at how the first one went over. I think the best thing that we got out of the success of ‘Dreaming Out Loud’ was a little bit of license to trust our fans to like good music. All the songs that we put out were really different. It was really liberating making the second record knowing that we hadn’t set a specific formula or sound that we had to fit into. So when we approached making the new one, it was like we wanted to make good songs with as few rules as possible. I think that was really cool. It was also just the natural evolution of writing an album and then writing the next album five years later. There’s five dudes in this band that probably thought of a million different things they wanted to say since we made the other one five years ago.
I read that ‘Apologize’ is actually the number 50 song on the Billboard’s Hot 100 of all time songs from 1958 to 2008. What does that mean to you guys? Does it create any fear for your future work?
Zach Filkins: I don’t think it is fear. First of all I think it’s a huge honor to have a song that does that well. You can never expect that sort of success, and you can never plan for it. You kind of just go with it while it’s happening. I think we all knew that ‘Apologize’ had something to it. We really didn’t expect it to be that big. It’s just a testament to our fans and to the support that we have, which we’re really thankful for. I don’t really think we have a fear about that. We let that song be what it is. We’ve moved on and I think we’re extremely excited about the new album and the new songs. You can’t go about writing songs by saying ok we had a chart topping song, we need to beat that. You just go at it by saying let’s make the best songs we can at this time. I hope that we build more loyal fans.
What has been the most unique fan experience you have had?
Drew Brown: I think one of the coolest fan experiences was in Fort Lauderdale last year. We all went out to a sushi restaurant right around the corner from the venue. It was the five of us and this girl came over after we ordered our food and said, “It’s my birthday. I’m going to see your show. It’s the best present ever. I’m really excited, and I would just like to buy you guys dinner. The rest of our crew showed up, and all of this sushi that we had ordered showed up and she didn’t even freak out. I thought that was one of the coolest fan experiences.
What has the experience of touring with Rob Thomas been like? Have you guys really enjoyed it?
Drew Brown: Oh man, so far, it’s funny. It’s a little bit different to go back after being off the road for a long time. Anytime with new songs, it’s almost like your starting your band over again. To sort of go back to being an opening band, its own sort of rules, or not rules, but you try harder. Rob himself is one of the coolest dudes, which I heard for years and I didn’t believe it.
Your set list with this tour, is it more new stuff or is it half / half?
Eddie Fisher: Right now it’s half / half. Especially until the new album comes out.
Drew Brown: It’s funny, it’s half / half. Considering the new record is not even out yet, it seems like it’s definitely leaning towards the new record. We won’t really know if that’s a good idea or a sort of alienating idea yet. We’re kind of just playing it by ear. It might be a little ambitious to try to squeeze in all those songs that no one has ever heard. As long as ‘Apologize’ is in the opening set, people will be like oh ok.
‘Apologize’ is the most legally downloaded song in U.S. history, which is really impressive.
Zach Filkins: I would think it’s probably the most illegally downloaded song as well. [Laughs]
Well they didn’t publish that. [Laughs]
So with the evolution of the music industry, with issues about illegal downloading, what kind of effect does that have on you guys, what’s your take on it, and how has that changed your approach to marketing?
Drew Brown: I think is affected us the same way it’s affected 95% of the artist that are putting out records right now. There are a handful of people that have been slightly ahead of the curve with creative ways to market their music. I’m personally a really big fan of the buying LP and get the free download. I think that’s amazing, because CD’s are more or less useless. There definitely being phased out but you get like an actual LP and you also get the mp3 which is really cool. I think it affects every person and every band and to sort of go after the concept of downloading something illegally seems retro. It doesn’t seem productive, because that’s just how it’s going to be. So I think the people that are going to illegally download music are going to do it anyway. To add value and incentive to make records, it’s a good thing for artist I think. It makes people try a little harder to make a descent product that people are going to want to listen to the whole thing.
Zach Filkins: I think the new thing might be shorter records. Making more albums, but making them smaller. Six songs or whatever. Like Drew said, it’s very challenging then as an artist. You can’t write one single that everyone wants to listen to, and then some other stuff. There just going to buy that one single. It kind of challenges your song writing. It challenges your product, and making shorter albums cost a little less. Maybe have a couple of songs that people want for a few dollars more you can get the whole product. Marketing wise that makes sense. The other thing that I don’t think we want to miss is the art of an actual album.
Drew Brown: It’s a lost art, and it’s definitely not like with the way everything going, the labels aren’t going to be the ones fighting to bring the album back. They don’t care.
There making money and there’s always going to be a singles market. It’s definitely on artist now to be a posing force to albums going by the waist-side. No one else is going to do it.
Has it been difficult to find inspiration for the new album because you have become so well known.
Drew Brown: I don’t really think so. There are a handful of really positive things that come with all of the great stuff that has happened in the last two years. In perfect stride with that, there is so much weird and odd and awkward stuff. We’ve learned tons of stuff. We’ve started asking a lot more questions than we did making the first album. There’s always some stuff to seek out.
What’s next for you guys after this tour?
Zach Filkins: That remains to be seen. Businesswise, some of it depends on how the single does. We’re very stoked about ‘All the Right Moves’. We’re hoping that moves well and the album releases November 17th , so that’s going to really take care of the fall. After this tour we go to the UK with James Morrison, so we won’t even be able to have an album release party in the U.S. We’ll come back for Christmas, have a breather, and then next year we’ll probably be backtracking to all the countries we went to last time around. Playing shows, doing promos, hopefully doing it in a more organized way.
After interviewing the boys, I hung around to see their set. Never in my time covering concerts have I ever seen a crowd respond to an opening act the way the Rob Thomas crowd reacted to OneRepublic. At the close of the set, the audience were on their feet applauding. It’s safe to say that OneRepublic has made their impression – and they’ll only continue to impress you as they release more and more music. Definitely catch these guys live if you haven’t already. It’ll be a show to remember.
Interview By: Emma Loggins
– OneRepublic Official Site