The OneRepublic frontman looks back on being "broke as a bottle of wine" in the band's catchy new single, "Rich Love." Only ET was on the set of the feel-good music video, set on the famous 4th Street Bridge in Los Angeles.
"Everybody who moves to a major city has that moment where you have nothing and you kind of hate it when you're in it, but you don't realize how good it is," Tedder said of the inspiration. "When I moved to L.A., the roommates I had, the friends I had -- we were absolutely dead broke, but we had the best time."
In the second verse, Tedder sings about epic house parties and angry neighbors. Turns out, that moment was inspired by some very famous friends.
"Katherine Heigl lived behind us ... and her now husband, Josh Kelley," Tedder recalls. "Grey's Anatomy was in season two or three, and they all lived near us so we threw a house party and half the cast of Grey's Anatomy showed up. This was right when [the show] was, like, poppin'. What was gonna be a nice little get-together with 10-15 people turned into 50 people, turned into 60 and spilled out into our front yard. Music blasting. Cops show up. Neighbors furious. That's the song -- I'm literally just recounting all these memories. Making all these reservations for restaurants and then realizing there's no way we can afford that and bailing on the reservation."
One of the song's stickiest lines -- "Broke as a bottle of wine" -- is also the most ambiguous. As it turns out, the inspiration behind it is both surprising and delightful.
"It started with that line, 'Broke as a bottle of wine,' and I was referring to, like, 'Two Buck Chuck,'" Tedder explains. "It's not necessarily a broken bottle of wine, but, like ... two-dollar wine, for those of you that don't know. I had so many nights of Grey's Anatomy and 'Two Buck Chuck.'"
Long gone are Tedder's discount wine days. In recent months he's been busy on his own tour, as well as working on Paul McCartney's next album.
"Hands down, my favorite week I've ever spent in the studio with anybody. Hands down," he gushes. "You get over the fact that he's a Beatle pretty quick, but then when he turns it on and does something incredible you're like, 'Oh my God! That's right. You're Paul McCartney! You're so damn good.'"
Tedder also recently teamed up with Camila Cabello for a track.
"She's crazy talented and a super ball of energy," he says of the 20-year-old. "A lot of artists sometimes put up a little bit of a screen, like, protection, but she's a hundred percent real the second she walks into a room. She's great."
On his latest tour, Tedder has been treating fans to new renditions of some of the biggest hits he penned, but never sang. Among them: Beyonce's "Halo," Adele's "Rumour Has It" and Ed Sheeran's "Happier."
"I had never sung 'Halo' since the day it was written," Tedder admits, revealing that it's one of his favorites to perform today. "Getting to perform these songs, I have a newfound appreciation for them. I think I'm hearing them the way that other people hear them now."
It's been a welcome change from Tedder's last tour experience (or lack thereof), when he essentially walked away from promoting the band's fourth studio album, Oh My My. He opened up about the experience in a recent Facebook post.
"We came off the biggest album of our career, Native, and went straight into making another album," he says. "We dropped the first single that we promoted the hell out of [and] before we even put out the album, we dropped a second single. At that point I was on empty."
"The day we shot the music video I remember just thinking, 'Oh, crap.' Like, I'm toast. I am so done. I can't hide this anymore. I'm about to unravel at the seams," he continues. "We drop an album and within six weeks I go dark. I stopped talking about the album, stopped promoting the single that's out, I killed the chance of any other song coming off the album because any more work, any more being gone, any more grinding, I was gonna quit music. ... The most dangerous thing to do in entertainment, music, acting, is to get to the point where you actually aren't having fun. If you're not having fun for long enough and you're wired like me, you're out."
Tedder says he relates to Justin Bieber's recent decision to abandon his own tour, giving him kudos for knowing when to call it quits.
"Oh, I knew exactly [what he was going through]," Tedder says. "I was like, good move. Good move. You've been doing it for two years, stop before you hate it."
Tedder, who credits daily exercise with keeping him sane on the road, is taking a new approach to releasing music today. While he's still looking to create albums with a cohesive narrative through-line, he doesn't feel tied to a strict release schedule for new songs.
"I love albums but the most frustrating thing about an album is, if you're working that album for two years and you write the best song ever six months into it -- you can't move off that album," he explains. "Now, you can just drop the song."