8 Şubat 2008 Cuma

Ryan Tedder on the coming of OneRepublic

OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder sits atop the music tree, with his own hit single Apologize only dethroned by Bleeding Love, penned by his own fair hand.

IT'S all about timing.

Ryan Tedder, frontman of US band OneRepublic, is on top of the world this year.

His band's debut single Apologize was the unavoidable song of the summer, topping charts around the globe.

In Australia, Apologize was finally dethroned by Leona Lewis's Bleeding Love, a song Tedder
co-wrote and produced.

Ironically, Tedder saw both songs rejected by record companies over the past three years.
His musical CV is littered with disappointment and heartbreak.

He started his songwriting career while studying at infamous preacher Oral Roberts' university.

"There's always some kind of scandal happening at that place,'' Tedder jokes. "Any time you mix Christianity, money and business, things get mucked up.''

His first taste of the music business came with an internship for Dreamworks' Nashville arm.
At 21, Tedder thought his big break had come when 'N Sync's Lance Bass chose him from a new talent showcase on MTV.

Tedder's song The Look was a hit with viewers and he was signed to Bass's management company and there was talk of a record deal.

It never happened.

Luckily for Tedder, one person watching MTV that day was producer Timbaland.

Timbaland called Tedder, who was tied to the Bass contract for a year. Once it expired, Tedder took Timbaland up on his collaboration offer. But Timbaland's work schedule saw Tedder bumped to the back of the queue.

Between 2002 and 2004 Tedder was fast-tracked into the inner sanctum of Timbaland's studio.

"I was a young producer learning my chops and even at that time, five years ago, he was the best in the world,'' Tedder says.

"He'd wanted to collaborate with me but he just got so busy I ended up being an observer. I watched him working on Justin Timberlake's first album Justified, watched him with Missy Elliott, Ludacris, Bubba Sparxxx, Lil' Kim . . . I learnt a lot.''

Tedder decided it was time to leave Timbaland and started a career writing songs for other artists.
He had also assembled a band -- OneRepublic -- and scored a deal with Columbia Records.
One of the songs he had used to land the deal was Apologize, written at his father's house in Colorado.

Even though he'd left Timbaland's shadow, Tedder still sent a copy of the song to the producer.

"He called me straight away and went `Oh my God, this song's a hit','' Tedder says. "He went nuts.''
Columbia didn't go quite so nuts, shelving their album in 2006 and insisting the band sack their original drummer.

"He was covered in tattoos, he looked like he should be in Blink 182. The label said 'You have to get rid of him' -- it was the hardest thing we've ever had to do.''

When Timbaland was compiling his Shock Value album -- collaborations with a range of artists -- he called Tedder, wanting to remix Apologize for the record.

"I was very reluctant,'' Tedder says. "But in the end I decided it was probably a good thing, I thought I'd just sit back and see what happened.''

A global No.1 later and two million copies of the song sold in the US alone, Tedder is not only "vindicated'', he's signed the band to Timbaland's record label.

"I've gone full circle back to Timbaland,'' Tedder jokes. "I always knew Apologize should be a hit, but I had no idea it would be this big a hit.''

Though the song was released as "Timbaland featuring OneRepublic", the producer's input was

Tedder has included the original version of Apologize on the band's debut album Dreaming Out Loud, as well as the hit remix, to show he's not the producer's puppet.

"He didn't really change anything, he just switched the beat up a little and added a synthesiser,'' Tedder says.

The success is particularly sweet given Tedder's track record of missed opportunities.

"It's been hard to avoid becoming cynical,'' he says. "I've been through a lot for my age (28), I feel like I've been doing it twice as long as I actually have. It's hard for me to be blindsided by anybody -
- I can see it coming at this point because I've been through so much. I know which people in the industry are full of it, which helps.''

Tedder is the first to admit his battle wounds from the music industry have made him "calculated''.
``When I started in this business I'd just go in any direction with reckless abandon, I let other people control my career. One instance after another didn't work out. So I thought 'I'm going to set a goal and work out how to get there and go after it'. The same way I was involved in athletics at school, I was very competitive.

"I applied myself like I was trying to become the captain of the basketball team. I reattached that drive I had as a kid. If you're not somewhat calculated in this business you can end up in horrible situations, where people rob you of your money or your talent.''

While juggling the dual roles of songwriter for hire and OneRepublic frontman, Tedder can see the humour in his situation.

His phone is constantly ringing from music-industry types wanting him to write the next Apologize or Bleeding Love.

"I had people offer to buy Apologize before we released it,'' Tedder says. "But you can't copy yourself, it doesn't work that way.

"Just lately some songs I wrote three years ago have popped up, but back then I was nobody so no one would listen to them. I even pitched one (older) song to the same guy at the same label and after Apologize they went 'Oh this is great, it's a hit'. I didn't tell him I'd played it to him two years ago and he passed on it.''

The same thing happened with Bleeding Love.

Tedder wrote it with US pop star Jesse McCartney last February.

"His (record) label heard it, the guy in charge just didn't get it. I was red in the face screaming 'Are you out of your mind, this is a massive song'. Jesse wanted it, and for good reason, he has personal attachment to it. But it just didn't work out. It's one of those things that happens in this business.

"I'm a firm believer in just writing the best song you can, forget about who it's for and eventually it finds its home.''

Tedder heard Leona Lewis's people were hunting for songs for her debut album and dusted off Bleeding Love.

"I said I think she could kill this song. I rearranged it for her, changed the key, tailored it for her voice. She absolutely took control of it and owned it.''

Tedder's success means he can pick and choose his collaborators.

He's written a song with Soundgarden/Audioslave singer Chris Cornell ("one of the high points of my career'') and has work lined up with everyone from DJ Tiesto to Kelly Clarkson.

"I want to mix it up, I'm not just a pop guy,'' Tedder says. "But OneRepublic is first and foremost my priority.''

It's also a priority for Timbaland, who has already publicly said he wants Coldplay to "watch out'' for OneRepublic.

"Our goal isn't to take on Coldplay, I think Timbaland's goal is,'' Tedder says.

"They're obviously on another level. My goal is to have as many wonderful songs come out as possible. Maybe in five years hopefully someone will listen to a new band and say 'They sound like OneRepublic'.''

The way Tedder's extracurricular songwriting is picking up, his musical DNA is likely to be all over the pop charts for the next few years.

Though his songwriting CV includes everyone from Tatu to Hilary Duff, Jennifer Lopez and
Natasha Bedingfield, he refuses to point out which acts insist on a songwriting credit for financial reasons despite having minimal creative input into a song.

"I've definitely had that happen,'' Tedder says.

"That is probably the most difficult thing in this business, dealing with songwriting splits. Everyone's friendly and artistic until it comes to money. Then people pull out their knives. It's not fun.''

Tedder is also prepared for those who believe his band will become one-hit wonders, despite the follow up Stop and Stare already moving up the US chart.

"The same application I've taken as far as a songwriter writing for other artists, I've applied it to this band,'' he says.

"For me, the lyrics have to be completely tangible and personal, but musically if the song doesn't have a hook I'm not listening to it. I'm a sucker for the Beatles, Police, U2, Oasis, all these bands with monster choruses and monster songs.

"Of course, when Apologize became so big I was worried we couldn't live up to it. The second hit is what helps define the band.

"Anybody can get lucky once. We want to prove it wasn't luck.''

Dreaming Out Loud (Universal) out now. OneRepublic, with Maroon 5. Rod Laver Arena, March 30. $89.90, Ticketek.