Peter Katsis, OneRepublic’s manager at The Firm, adds it’s time to “create the real story.”
“Now the more important thing is to do the right things with the touring show and TV appearances to let people know just how musical this band is,” Katsis told Pollstar. “That’s the goal, to let that information catch up with the other information that’s already on the table.”
Tedder balks at the “overnight success” label that’s sometimes been applied to the band.
The versatile singer/songwriter/producer has been fighting for nearly a decade to get his voice heard, beginning in 2000 with his entry into an MTV-sponsored songwriting contest, which he won. The prize was a production deal with Lance Bass’ Freelance Entertainment, which quickly fell apart, leaving Tedder at loose ends again.
Enter Timbaland, who saw the winning video and took the singer under his wing, signing him to a production deal. He spent two years traveling from studio to studio with the producer and learning his craft, before coming to the conclusion he really wanted to be the one in the spotlight.
With Timbaland’s blessing, Tedder moved on and quickly established himself as a go-to guy for songwriting and production, working with artists like Paul Oakenfold, Leona Lewis, Natasha Bedingfield and Jennifer Lopez.
In 2002, he returned to Colorado Springs, Colo., where he’d attended high school, and hooked up with an old pal, guitarist Zach Filkins, to begin forming a band. The following year, the pair migrated to Los Angeles and started to flesh out the group, eventually settling on the lineup of Tedder, Filkins, guitarist Drew Brown, bassist Brent Kunzle and drummer Eddie Fisher.
The band literally stumbled onto an agent at In-N-Out Burger on Sunset, of all places. Tedder bumped into another old friend, Agency For The Performing Arts’ Brett Stair, who brought them to the attention of the agency’s Josh Humiston.
With APA’s help, the quintet landed a deal with Columbia Records, cut an album, made some live appearances and prepared for the record’s mid-2006 release.
However, the label changed its mind just before the big day, shelving the disc and dropping OneRepublic. The band also quickly found itself without a manager. “The whole experience at Columbia turned all our relationships sour and we parted ways,” Tedder told Pollstar.
Humiston and Stair refused to throw in the towel, and got to work helping the group make a name for itself through touring while shopping the band to new labels and aiding in the search for new management, eventually helping to hook them up with Katsis. “We basically started to book them regionally, just around Southern California, as many dates as we could book them,” Humiston told Pollstar. “And it started to work. Soon enough, their MySpace page started to getting more and more hits and people started to come to their shows.”
In Stair’s opinion, the boost the band got from a massive number of plays of “Apologize” on MySpace couldn’t have come at a better time.
“They were thinking, ‘Is this worth it? We just got dropped from our label after working so hard to put the album out,’” Stair told Pollstar. “What saved them was their fans on MySpace. They saw how much it was blowing up and decided ‘We can’t stop now.’”
Eventually, the labels heard the buzz and came calling, along with Timbaland who decided he needed a rock band on his Mosley Music Group / Interscope imprint.
Once the band passed the turning point, things on the road changed quickly, too.
“Six months ago, we played the Glass House in Pomona and we were absolutely pumped that we had 330 people in attendance that paid for tickets,” Stair said. “Now, to see House of Blues L.A and Anaheim sell out weeks in advance is quite a difference.”
“What’s even more fun is unlike many bands who’ve toured around the country several times, they’ve never played places like Texas or even Denver, where most of them are from,” Humiston added. “On their first [national] tour to be selling out in advance in cities they’ve never played is quite special in our business these days.”
So OneRepublic’s road to “overnight success” was definitely a long and winding one. With all the turmoil, one might wonder why Tedder didn’t just give up and stick to songwriting.
“It crosses my mind all the time,” he said. “Being an artist is an enormous amount of work, but it has huge payoffs.
“I have this constant battle in my mind between my two favorite things. Being on stage when people know your songs and they’re singing them back to you is the best feeling in the world. But sitting in a studio at the moment of creativity, the moment when you come up with that hit chorus or that line you were looking for is also a great feeling.
“I remind myself I’m in a very blessed position with this band. A year ago I was just going to go back to writing and producing. But the bottom line is I moved to L.A. for OneRepublic, not to be a writer/producer.”