OneRepublic is a band of five completely different guys, who somehow manage to get along. That’s what artist Willo Perron, who worked on the album art for OneRepublic’s upcoming record Native, said after having one dinner with them.
He was asked to follow the band for three months, to become a fly on the wall and figure out what the common thread was between the guys since they couldn’t for the life of them figure it out themselves.
Frontman Ryan Tedder admitted to Radio.com that looking at the band, you wouldn’t think they’d have much in common, but somehow they connect on a musical level. And they’re going to keep looking that way, since no matter how hard they try, they just won’t wear matching outfits.
“We’ve tried the whole dressing like a band thing, looking more homogenous like Coldplay or The Hives,” he said. “The whole uniformed thing that a bunch of different bands have taken on looks absurd and feels awkward.”
Perron told Tedder and the rest of the band that they should embrace their differences. “He’s like…‘I feel like it’s five distinct animals that have no business being together,’” the frontman explained. That’s where the idea of the album cover–a Technicolor menagerie of wild animals–came from.
The five-headed beast is comprised of a bison, an antelope, a cougar, a fox and an owl with each head representing a member of the band. Unfortunately, none of the members are quick to admit which one is specifically their true spirit animal.
Soon the guys in the band were tossing around ideas of how to design this amalgamation. They started thinking of the album covers of the ‘70s and ‘80s, specifically Queen’s 1974 album Queen II where the faces of Freddie Mercury and the rest of the band come out of the shadows.
“Those album covers were those band members faces at different angles and it’s all like blown out,” Tedder said. “So we took the five animals and did that…hands down my favorite artwork that we’ve ever done.”
The album’s cover also coincides with the title, which bassist Brent Kutzie suggested on a whim and it just sort of stuck. Though it seems like just a simple word, Tedder said for him it has a much deeper meaning.
“Although we are very much American,” he said. “We don’t have that obvious American sound to us so it lends itself to working in all these different countries.”
When writing OneRepublic’s third album, the frontman said he wanted these songs to feel indigenous to their fans all over the world. Whether they were from South Africa or Poland or Australia he wanted everyone to feel like it was made specifically for them.
“We have crazy Russian fans and crazy Scottish fans,” Tedder explained. “And we wanted them all to embrace it as their band, their native sound.”
Native drops March 26.