Since releasing their latest album Oh My My in October, OneRepublic have been unusually quiet in terms of promoting their body of work. In a candid open letter to their fans, frontman Ryan Tedder has revealed how mental and physical exhaustion pushed him to almost quit music.
Having been a band for 10 years, Tedder and his OneRepublic band mates have been on a constant album-tour loop. During promoting ‘Kids’ (from latest album Oh My My), the non-stop work over the past decade, combined with exhaustion, caught up with the lead singer, causing him to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
“We’ve been a band now for 10 years as of January, and in that time we have gone nonstop… album, tour, album, tour etc… on Native we toured 2 1/2 years… 50+ countries and 225 dates. We went straight from that into finishing ‘Oh My My’, our longest (and most difficult to finish), and straight from that into promo for ‘Wherever I Go’ in April 2016. About 3-4 weeks into the promo for the 2nd single ‘Kids’ I (Ryan) hit a physical, emotional, psychological wall,” Tedder revealed on Facebook.
“I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, not sleeping, on meds, not happy, anxiety on a crippling level and it was triggered from sheer exhaustion. I looked at a calendar, realized I had been gone 200 days of 2016 and still had 3 more weeks of being gone.. From my family, my wife, my kids, my friends, basically my life. I also realized that had been the last 10 years. At that moment I wanted to quit, and almost did. I called my manager and said “pull the plug”… cancel tv’s cancel promo, cancel the single, cancel the album.”
This left Tedder wanting to quit music altogether, citing “crippling anxiety” as the cause for losing the energy to do something which normally brings him so much joy. “At the time we had a tour planned for the US in February, straight into Europe and then the rest of the world. We were gonna be gone again, for ages. The thought of it literally sent me into a sweat and made me feel like I was going to have a heart attack. Crippling anxiety. It also made me stop writing songs. I didn’t have the motivation or joy necessary to.”
To our, and the fans’ relief, Tedder revealed: “That’s over now”. With the support of their incredible label, they were able to stop everything in terms of the album and its promotion, giving the band a bit of breathing space. During the past four months, they have been able to re-assess their situation and how they plan to move forward as a band.
Earlier today, the band teased their new single ‘No Vacancy’ which will drop tomorrow. As previously hinted on Twitter, moving forward the band will focus on releasing songs, rather than an entire album of work.
“Fortunately we still love what we do and love you guys immensely, and love performing live. LOOOOVE. So we are going to. But we are changing the entire scope of how we release music and approach touring. I had the idea even before our last album of releasing “songs”… when we want, as often as we want, however we want. Not albums, songs. It’s always frustrated me that by the time u get to a 3rd, 4th or 5th single off an album that song may have been produced 2-3 years ago….and sounds dated. What if 3 months into an album you write a song that feels relevant NOW?? Albums aren’t built to be flexible or get out of their own way,” Tedder wrote.
“So here’s what we’re gonna do. Starting tomorrow we will be dropping new music as often as humanly possible… monthly, weekly sometimes, and it will be VARIED and with collaborations and may feel bonkers at first. Some will be remixes others will be just me on piano or guitar. Some will sound super trendy and new, some will sound classic and old school or very “OneRepublic”. News flash: I am ADD AF and always have been. It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to stick to one lane or one style or sound, I am incapable of it and so are the rest of the guys. That’s part of my anxiety, “what this album supposed to sound like?!!” No more. We like too many styles of music to “sound like OneRepublic” 24/7. Newsflash 2: l have honestly never known what our sound is, not once. I leave that up to your interpretation of it. All I’m ever chasing is goosebumps or emotion or fun. Love, God, Hope. What else is there? In whatever shade or color that is– Currently I’m chasing it. I’m a songs guy, the sound is always evolving.”
Oh My My was their most experiemental body of work to date, and whilst fans can expect to hear a mish mash of new songs, Tedder already acknowledges that not everyone will love every song. However, he’s pretty okay with that. “So…. some of these songs you’re absolutely gonna love… some you might totally hate, some will be a breath of fresh air and some you’ll skip. And guess what? It doesn’t matter. that’s the point. All the songs will be me singing and us playing. So it’s Us. We won’t be chasing trends but we will react to what’s around us, we won’t be trying to re-write songs from our past but some will unavoidably sound nostalgic. SONGS. ”
It’s refreshing to see an artist be so frank about such matters, and we applaud Ryan Tedder for opening up about his exhaustion and mental state. The music industry can be such an overwhelming and demanding place, and artists are often expected to be on auto-pilot. However, despite being world-famous, at the very root of it all they are human too, and there’s only so much any one person can take before it all gets too much.
We’re even happier that the band collectively decided to take the time out that they desperately needed. Judging from Tedder’s letter, their short break allowed the band to push forward with their career in the way that they want to. As much as any fan wants to hear new music from a band or to see them live, the band’s happiness and health comes first always.
We’re looking forward to this new era of music from OneRepublic, where the band do things on their terms. As Tedder stated, “we hope you enjoy our new approach to releasing music, you will be hearing it as we make it. There are no “first singles”, there are no “album cycles”, there’s us getting inspired, writing a tune, and getting it to you fast as we can. Because of Streaming services we can finally do what I’ve wanted to do for years. Some songs you will love, some you may loathe, but guess what?? Wait another couple weeks and you’ll have something new that may just be your favorite thing ever. We will tour when it makes sense, put out artwork when it’s good, and we are making merch WE wanna wear… for you. We will go to radio with songs when it feels like we should, not before. And we will tour… but not so much we end up hating life.”
Read Ryan Tedder’s full open letter on OneRepublic’s Facebook page.