You were a fan of The Giver before you were asked to write a song for the movie?
"Yes. In the ‘90s. It was one of my favorites!
It must have been a big deal to be asked to write a song for the soundtrack?
“I’m a massive, massive literature fan. So, when Harvey Weinstein says ‘I specifically want your band.’ I was like, ‘Are you sure he wants me? What’s the movie?’ Ah, it’s The Giver. ‘I remember that book. I love it. Well, who’s in it?’ Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, and Alexander Skarsgård. He got to Meryl, and I was like ‘I’m in.’ You couldn’t pass up this opportunity. My career started writing songs for film. That’s how I made a living. Before OneRepublic took off, how I put bread on the table for two years in L.A. was writing original music for movies — definitely not of the Weinstein variety. They were a little lower down the totem pole. To return full-circle a decade later to do something like this has been amazing and challenging. It’s very difficult to write songs for movies and not get too on the nose, too cheesy, or be some B- version of what you would have done if it wasn’t for the movie. That’s what most artists do, I feel like. The songs just don’t quite get there. So, I was really proud of how this turned out.”
How did your single from the “Ordinary Human” set the tone for the movie?
“The opening of the song pulsates — it’s electronic, dark foreboding; it’s ominous. It took me 50 takes to get the vocal right on that song. I ended up singing it on this really shitty microphone sitting in the control room because it was the only way I could make it sound believable. I just put it on loop over and over until I got a vocal that I believed my detachment. I wanted it to feel detached, like all of the citizens in the movie. The whole population had this super odd sense of detachment about death, life, ambition, and the roles you’re supposed to play — except for the lead characters.”
How did you relate “Ordinary Human” to your own personal life and the movie?
“Even though it’s for a movie, our fans want to hear me singing about what I’m going through and what the band’s going through. It had to serve a number of purposes. It had to be something I related with, because if I don’t believe it no one else is going to believe it. It had to be believable and relatable to the characters, and it had to be believable and relatable musically to the feeling of the movie and the score. You have to serve a lot of masters when you’re writing a song for a film to really embody all of it.
You not only wrote this song for The Giver, but your song “What You Wanted” was featured in some of the trailers for The Fault In Our Stars this summer. It seems to be a good summer for you.
“I’ve discovered the secret to omnipresence. I’m omnipresent.”