Entertainment & Arts

OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder: 'My Grammys can burn'

Ryan Tedder at the 2012 Grammy Awards Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ryan Tedder has won two Grammys, for his work on Adele's 21 and Taylor Swift's 1989

OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder must breed earworms in a laboratory.

Over the last decade, he has written and produced hits for Beyonce (XO), Adele (Rumour Has It) and Taylor Swift (Welcome To New York), while his own band's hits include Apologise, Counting Stars and the current single Kids.

You may have heard him talking about songwriting, because that's what most interviews - including his last encounter with the BBC - tend to focus on.

But the 37-year-old is pop music's very own Renaissance Man - investing in medicine, accumulating historical artefacts and compiling the ultimate coffee bible.

So, rather than ask him about Adele and Beyonce, we used the song titles from the new OneRepublic album, Oh My My, as the jumping off point for a series of random, but revealing questions.

It turns out that some things are more important than his trophy cabinet...

Track one: Let's Hurt Tonight

What's the worst injury you've ever had?

When my Achilles heel exploded. I was playing basketball and my ankle just went off like a firework.

That was very painful, but it wasn't close to what happened next. I got to the hospital and the last little bit of tendon that was attaching my calf muscle to my ankle popped, so my entire calf muscle rolled up behind my knee. No pain in this lifetime will compare. It was so severe that I actually passed out.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption OneRepublic were dropped by their label twice before Timbaland's remix of Apologise propelled them to fame

Track two: Future Looks Good

What will happen to America after the election?

Oh my God. My grandfather was born in the 1930s and he says this is the worst election he's seen in his lifetime.

I don't think either candidate is the devil. If you're voting experience, Hillary clearly wins because you get two presidents for the price of one - her and Bill. But then you have all the trust issues. Trump, I don't even have to go into detail on why that's scary.

But I'll say this: The future still looks good because of the checks and balances system we have. If Trump gets in, he's going to get stonewalled.

Track four: Kids

What's the best thing about being a father?

Everything is the best thing about being a father. When our youngest kid sees me, he lights up like a Christmas tree. It's love on another level. Rare is the person you would throw yourself in front of a moving car for, but kids bring that out in you.

Track five: Dream

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

I've had one since college. It's the last week of school, and I get a call from a professor saying, "You didn't come to my class once this entire semester and I'm failing you, so you're not going to graduate".

You know why I have that dream? Because that actually happened. I was enrolled on a physical education course, but I didn't know and I missed every lesson. The guy said the only way he'd pass me was if I came in the next three days in a row, and ran two miles, then three miles, then five miles. And I had to do each one in a certain time. The three-mile race I had to do in 22 minutes, so a seven-minute mile, and I almost died.

After I did it, the guy looked at me and he shook his head, and he said, "You're lucky you're in decent shape because I was ready to fail you".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tedder has recently been working with Ed Sheeran on his forthcoming third album

Track six: Choke

You grew up in Tulsa which is a big oil city. Are you for or against fossil fuels?

When I first made money from Apologise and Bleeding Love, I wanted to buy a solar panel farm. I was immediately looking into that as an investment strategy. I've invested in Elon Musk's [solar panel company] SolarCity and Tesla. I refuse to believe we live on a planet that doesn't have 100% renewable resources.

I don't like to invest in bonds and mutual funds, so you have to find something, whether it's a streaming service or a green technology service, or a cancer-fighting company, and invest early. I'll cold call them and be like, "Hey, you're developing an early-detection cancer system, what would it take to invest in your company?".

Track eight: Better

Is it possible for a songwriter to improve with age?

That's a really interesting question. In Nashville, there's a much greater likelihood that you can continue to have hits in your 50s and 60s.

The only pop writer I can name in the whole world who has continued to have true hits is Billy Steinberg [Madonna's Like A Virgin, The Bangles' Eternal Flame]. He still understands the craft and melody. And the key is collaboration. You have to have youth injected into your sphere.

So I'd say it's possible, but unlikely.

Track nine: Born

What was the key ingredient in the conception of this album?

Friends. Ed Sheeran influenced a few songs in terms of how I approached the lyrics. Bono made me question everything, try and beat every lyric, be more brutal.

But I have a couple of guy friends who are in their early 30s and they don't care about pop music. Those guys give me the best feedback. Their response means more to me than anyone.

Image copyright Polydor Records
Image caption The group were formed in Colorado Springs in 2002

Track ten: Fingertips

Have you had your hands insured?

I'm not Elton John, I've never thought of insuring my hands! But if we're in the middle of a tour I'm not really supposed to ski. Our tour insurance policy forbids it.

Track thirteen: NBHD (Neighbourhood)

Who is your most famous neighbour?

I have two. On my left is Hedi Slimane, the fashion designer, and my other next-door neighbour is Mark Hoppus from Blink 182.

Our other neighbours are the Clintons' doctors. So at least twice a year our entire cul-de-sac gets shut down. The Clintons will come over and you have to go through secret service to get to your own house.

Track fourteen: Wherever I Go

What's the first thing you do when you arrive in a new city?

I look for the best coffee shop in the city. I get online the night before and I Google coffee shops and then I read reviews on Yelp. Then I'll go and look at photos of them - because I'm a total nerd. I do this in every city. And I mean every city: Belgrade, Bucharest, Auckland, Moscow.

Will I write a book? Maybe. I have all the notes stored in my phone.

Image copyright Polydor Records
Image caption Tedder reportedly makes $2.5 million writing songs for other artists in a single year

Track fifteen: All These Things

If your house burned down, what's the one thing you'd save, apart from your family?

I would say the documents that I've collected. I have handwritten letters from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I have one of the last remaining photographs of Lincoln before he died. I have a hand-drafted letter from Napoleon while he was at the peak of his power, with the seal of Italy. I've got a photo of the first flight taking off in Kitty Hawk, signed by Orville Wright. I have coins that were minted in 2 AD in Jerusalem, as Christ was literally walking through the streets.

They're all in the same area of my house and they're mostly wood and paper, so I'd be sprinting to those with a blanket, and I'd grab them and run out the door. The Grammys can burn.

Track eighteen: The Less I Know

Do you read your own press?

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. It literally depends on the mood.

My issue with critics is… it's funny… I read a negative review of us a few years ago and I was like, "I need to know more about this guy because he's speaking as though he wouldn't like us if we were the last band on earth". So I go and look at who he likes, and he just went to a Black Sabbath concert, he loves Megadeth, he thinks Arcade Fire is "too pop". I was like this guy can go stuff himself.

That's the only time I get irritated. Don't review us if you are predisposed to hate us.

Oh My My is out now on Polydor Records.

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