Concert pushes music to edge

By John Benson

After achieving pop rock success over the past year with hit singles “Apologize (Remix)” (featuring Timbaland) and “Stop and Stare” from the band’s 2007 platinum debut “Dreaming Out Loud,” OneRepublic is hoping to distance itself from the one comparison that continually follows the group.

Since the Colorado act features a hip-hop percussive feel and soul-like vocals, the quintet often gets compared to Maroon 5.

“Maroon 5 is a very successful band and they bring a lot to the table,” said guitarist Zach Filkins, calling from Dallas. “So I would say being compared to them, the positive is I feel like it’s the kind of music everyone can get something out of. It’s not just like cheesy songs for cheesy little love stories. You can go as deep as you want with it.

“A minus as a band, you never want to be compared too much to anyone else because you feel like you want it to be something unique. But that doesn’t happen. Everyone is going to compare you to another artist. That’s what I do. So we use that to relate, and that’s totally natural.”

Sure, things could be worse. Just flash back a few years and OneRepublic, which had recorded most of “Dreaming Out Loud,” was signed to a major label deal and then subsequently dropped before the album was released.

In a nutshell, that was OneRepublic’s story before its frontman, founder and Grammy nominated songwriter-record producer Ryan Tedder reconnected with his friend Timbaland, who put “Apologize (Remix)” on his 2007 album “Shock Value.” A platinum record later, with instant radio recognition to boot, the group is attempting to woo audiences with a live show the band members believe belies the average pop rock concert experience.

“I think if we have one thing we’re really trying to show our fans, even though we have certain kind of like pop-style songs on the radio, we really try to do a little bit more musically with our live shows,” Filkins said.

“The biggest compliment we can get is for people to say, ‘Wow, I liked your album, I liked your songs on the radio, had no idea what you guys were like live and this completely blew me away.’”

When discussing the special creativity planned for the band’s upcoming Northeast Ohio show Monday at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron, Filkins describes a vibe he feels is similar to the loose and re-interpretative nature associated with the John Mayers and the Counting Crows. Expanded songs interspersed with surprising covers appear to make OneRepublic something special.

“The first style guitar I started playing was flamenco because I lived in Spain with my family for a while,” Filkins said. “That’s like something I don’t usually do a lot guitarwise, but we decided to pull that out on stage. So I’ll do like a little Spanish transition on a flamenco guitar and then suddenly it turns into ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley.

“Also, we’ll try to add a little bit more than just what you’ll hear on the album. The one thing we add to is ‘Apologize,’ where Brent, our bass player, plays cello, and he’ll start off doing something really moody and crazy and dark. And he kind of goes off on that for a while and then suddenly it’ll turn into the ‘Apologize’ hook.”