Hi, Ryan! Where are you right now?
I'm in Denver, Colorado, just finishing a bunch of different records we started when we were on tour in Europe.
Would you like to ask me a question before we begin?
Would I like to what? Ask you a question? [Silence] Where are you sitting right now?
I'm sat at my desk at home in London, near a window.
Awesome. Now I have a visual.
Don't the other members of OneRepublic ever want to do interviews?
[Laughs] Yeah, they volunteer to do it but I don't think any of them want to. My guitar player is actually really funny and highly intelligent and he does some of the interviews. But the moment someone starts asking about other artists I've written for their eyes glaze over.
Didn't your big break come after you performed in front of 'N Sync's Lance Bass and won a record deal? (1)
[Laughs] That's an interesting way of putting it. He was in the room. Funnily enough, he was not one of the judges – it was a producer called Robin Wiley, Pink, Brian McKnight and an entertainment attorney. But yeah, it was a talent show Lance organised when they were at their most 'N Sync-ness – when they were most in sync, I guess you could say (2). I ended up winning the show and the next day I'm one room over from John Lennon's old apartment in my first writing session with Eagle-Eye Cherry. The whole thing was bizarre. I remember going out that night withJustin Timberlake and Diddy was there. I don't know what the comparison is in the UK but Oklahoma, where I'm from, is as far away from London as you could imagine and suddenly I'm going club-hopping with Timberlake and Miss Universe. It was the weirdest 48 hours of my life.
What's the best thing on the menu at the Southern Hospitality BBQ? (3)
I like the sound of the King's Combo. (4)
That will send you to hospital, pretty much. I ordered that one time and it's a lot of food.
You're rereleasing your album Native. Why should people buy it if they've already shelled out once for it?
If you've already bought it I wouldn't buy it again, to be honest. I don't think the record label wants me to say that, but if you've already got it don't buy the damn thing again. We were vehemently against repackages and rereleases. To be honest, I hate that shit, I really do. I think it's cheesy. We went through multiple meetings about how to handle this because we had a song, Love Runs Out, that was meant to be the first single on Native but I couldn't finish it and refused to put it out until I felt good about it. So then we thought about making it the first single from the next album, but I know myself well enough to know that 18 months from now my head will have moved on to something else. We didn't want to throw away a song that we are in love with, so we've streamlined the album and the deluxe version and added bits to it. That's the other thing that drives me crazy is a deluxe version of an album – I hate that.
You've been writing with Harry Styles recently, haven't you?
[Silence] Is that the rumour?
That's the rumour.
That's an interesting rumour. I don't know if I can confirm or deny that, but what I will say is that I did hang out with One Direction in London. It sounds completely generic to say, but I'm always impressed or extremely happy when I end up in the same room with a band who are at the stage of nuclear explosion in their career and they're so normal it almost turns you off. Like, "How are you not more messed up right now? I'm looking for syringes, where are they?" [Suddenly] Yes, we did do something is the truth. I can't say what it's for, though.
When do you think Harry will leave One Direction?
Oh my God, I have no idea. I've never had any conversations with him or any of them regarding that.
Your original demo version of Beyoncé's Halo is online and, production aside, it's pretty similar to the finished version. People have accused her in the past of adding her name to a song's credits – can you shed any light on that?
I can't speak for all of the songs that she does but I'll say this: she does stuff on any given song that, when you go from the demo to the final version, takes it to another level that you never would have thought of as the writer. For instance, on Halo, that bridge on her version is completely different to my original one. Basically, she came in, ditched that, edited it, did her vocal thing on it and now it's become one of my favourite parts of the song. The whole melody, she wrote it spontaneously in the studio. So her credit on that song stems from that. In terms of her other songs, I can't say. I know there's a long history, whether it's Céline Dion or Whitney, of artists transcending being just artists and becoming icons. Can they demand more? Absolutely. Whether you agree with it or not, they can because they can.
Go to the source for his comments about Bono