Drummer Eddie Fisher chats about going bigger on the band’s second album Waking Up, the challenges of avoiding a sophomore slump, and how their lives have changed since “Apologize.”
I used to go to Biola University, and I remember you played a couple shows there way before Dreaming Out Loud was released. How’s that journey been, from where you were then to where you are now?
That journey has been a long road [laughs]. When “Apologize” came out, everybody thought, “Oh, you’re a one-hit wonder, overnight success kind of band.” But we struggled in L.A. We did the L.A. scene. We did San Francisco, San Diego, even a little Nevada, so it definitely wasn’t by any means an overnight success. We definitely paid our dues [laughs].
How do you think your life has changed from then to now?
My life has changed. All of our lives have changed. We’re constantly touring and never home. We’re doing video/TV interviews and playing. We spend all day doing these different aspects. It’s fun talking to people about our music, and albums and stuff, but that one thing we got into music to do we only get to do for one hour a day, and that’s play music [laughs]. It’s weird. You’re like, “OK, I’m going to play all day.” And it’s like, “Nope. You get one hour, buddy [laughs].”
It’s definitely a lifestyle change. You have friends and family that look at you differently, people that treat you differently, and you’re like, “Um…” You kind of have to take people’s generosity… There’s a different aspect, I guess I want to say, without sounding like a complete arrogant ahole [laughs]. It’s not even in that context. When I was home in Denver, my fiancé works in a bar, and we had some friends there and they were like, “OK, dude. Can I get five tickets to your show?” It’s like, “Dude, if you support, buy a ticket [laughs].” They’re like, “Aw, man. C’mon [laughs].”
With the massive success that “Apologize” and the last record were, I’m sure there was some pressure when you sat down to write this second one. What was that process like?
There was pressure. We had pressure, just from the general consensus of people looking at us and being like, “When are you going to write ‘Apologize Part 2?’ Are you going to chase ‘Apologize?’” We clearly said from the get go to our label and our management, “You guys are not going to get another ‘Apologize.’ Just know that.” If you chase something that massive, you have a high percentage of it completely failing. We didn’t want an “Apologize No. 2.” That song was written seven years ago.
We’re not desperate. We don’t have heartache over girls or relationship problems. Some of the guys have wives and are thinking about kids, so with that aspect, and touring and traveling, we’re totally different men. We’ve evolved into world traveling, compared with living in L.A. and struggling.
Now our world’s bigger because of where we’ve been and where we’ve traveled, so writing this album was a completely different turn for us. We are very excited about it because it’s more rhythmic with big vocals, big choruses, big sing-alongs, a lot of strings and we even threw in a children’s choir.
Are you anxious for people to be able to hear it?
Definitely. I can’t wait. It’s so frustrating because you’re like, “OK, the album’s done. Now let’s give it to everybody.” But it’s like, “Well, you can’t. You have to promote it. We have to do this. We have to do that. We’re going to set a date for you in a couple weeks. How’s that?” We’re like, “No!” [laughs] We’re definitely excited for it to come out in five weeks, I think, on November 17.
The last one was called Dreaming Out Loud and this one’s now called Waking Up, with both terms coming from sleep and that idea. Is there any relation between the two titles at all?
I’m not taking any credit because everybody put their two cents into album titles. We were thinking of “Good Life.” We were thinking of song titles. We were like, “Why don’t we name it after a song title? We did that on the last one. Let’s do it.” I brought up Waking Up as a metaphor for like we were Dreaming Out Loud. You know when you’re in school and you’re like, “I want to be so and so?” That album was dreaming of being on the radio, having videos, touring around the world and playing music. It happened.
Now we’re Waking Up. It is exactly being woken up from sleeping, and let’s rock [laughs]. This album’s definitely more upbeat tempos. The last one had a lot of mid-tempos, with “Apologize” and “Come Home” being the ballad-y songs. This one has a couple ballads, but it has some mid-tempos and a little bit up-tempos, too.
Is there anything in particular you would say the album means to you and the band?
[sighs] That’s a good one. That’s a really good question. It does. What the album means to us, it’s like Dreaming Out Loud we went through puberty, you know [laughs], musical puberty, and this album has made us into men. That’s exactly how I feel about it. This is my secure album, and I’m even more proud. With Dreaming Out Loud, I couldn’t wait for that thing to come out. When that came out, it was definitely a godsend. Thank you. Finally. It was a milestone in my life.
We were signed to Columbia. We got dropped and it was shelved. Timbaland and Interscope picked us up and said, “OK, let’s put a couple new songs on there and put it out.” That was a milestone in our lives. Now with this album we’ve had that milestone, but this is definitely the album of our manhood [laughs]. Everybody says that for you to be a man, you have to do this. It’s like our gateway to manhood is the Waking Up album.
As you mentioned earlier, this album is more rhythmically based with beats and stuff. How did you approach writing that, and was there anything you wanted to do differently from the first one?
We wanted to make it more happy snappy. Not dancy, but we wanted to make the head bob. We have a lot of tracks on some of the songs. We wanted huge everything. We wanted everything big – big drums, big strings, big vocals, big guitars. With that, we kind of took it in and made some tracks.
We put some real drums in there and some fake drums in there, mixed it up, and shuffled them all in a pile. We distorted them and distressed them. We put distortion on some of the drums, and the strings we did the same thing. We went to London and went to Abbey Road and had the London Philharmonic play some strings on a couple songs. They had a children’s choir. We wanted to see what we could do with some of it.
I think one of the other guys was using the word cinematic, and I know a few of you are into movie soundtracks. Did that have an impact on where you went with it, too?
Definitely. We wanted this album definitely to be like the soundtrack of our lives. That sounds so corny and cliché, but it really is the truth [laughs].
While the first single is “All the Right Moves,” are there any other songs that stick out in your mind on the record?
Yes, we’re hoping for our second single to be “Secrets.” We love that song. It’s talking about Ryan’s writing process, and how some people think that we’re Timbaland’s band. It’s like, really? Ryan’s giving all his secrets away to other artists. All our, not critics, but the people that were unsure of us. The same people that were calling us the one-hit wonders and an overnight success [laughs].
There’s a song called “Good Life.” That’s a really happy song. You listen to it and you walk away happy. For some reason it’s got vocal content, and lyrical content and hooks, that it sticks in your head. I find myself singing that song throughout the days.
You ended up moving back to Denver and recorded this album yourselves. What was that like and how did that differ from your first album?
Recording is always the must frustrating part because you know someone’s going to be, “I want this song. I want that song. I want this this way, and I want that that way.” Dreaming Out Loud we had a producer, Greg Wells, and we kind of had the songs already set and written when we took them into record them. That was kind of an easy process.
This time, it was a little bit different. Ryan came in with a couple songs in his pocket already. So with that, Ryan wanted to produce the album. My friend Andy Prickett co-produced on a lot of songs with Brent and Ryan. They’re kind of like the songwriters of the band. They’d throw in drums, or some electric guitars. It was definitely intricate. We spent a lot of nights at the band’s house in Denver, staying up late and recording. The neighbors there were probably pretty mad [laughs].
Are you originally from Colorado?
No, I am not. I am from California.
Would you say you’re based out of Colorado now?
Yeah, I would say that. We all moved out there. Zach still lives in Chicago. I live in Denver. Ryan lives in Denver. Brent, I think he’s moving back to L.A. next month. I’m not sure. Then Drew lives in L.A. and Denver, so I guess you can say we’re all from Denver. We recorded the album in Denver, so I guess from a business aspect, yes, we’re all based out of Denver.
Did you have jobs and all that kind of stuff before the band took off?
Yeah. I was doing the typical struggling musician thing, playing weird gigs here and there, and I was working at Home Depot [laughs]. That was my life.
Obviously, Ryan has written songs for a bunch of different people. What do you think about that, and artists who have other people write their songs for them?
I think it’s good. I think Ryan has a talent for songwriting, and if he’s asked to produce stuff, do it. He’s asked me to play drums on some tracks. On Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone” album, I played some drum stuff on that album. Same with James Morrison. I did the drum tracks for “Please Don’t Stop the Rain.” He’s a great songwriter-producer. So I think if you ask him, more power. I’m proud of him [laughs].
Your band seams to straddle the line between rock, alternative, pop, R&B and what have you. How do you kind of view the band in that way?
We want to be viewed as the genreless band. We want to break that mold. We all have different tastes. I like rap, rock, a little bit of everything. Ryan’s like R&B, rap, rock, alternative. Everybody’s an eclectic circle.
To put a finger on it and categorize our music, I guess you’d put us in alternative-pop, maybe in alternative-rock. Not even rock. I wouldn’t call it rock [laughs]. Our label put us in the rock category, so I don’t know. Whatever.
Are there any drummers you look up to or draw inspiration from?
Yeah, definitely. Taylor Hawkins would be one. I love Steve Gadd. He’s got some different grooves that nobody else plays. There’s a few. Marco Minnemann. Yeah, I’ll give you three because I can go on all day about it [laughs].
Is there ever a fear that you will only be remembered as a one or two-hit wonder? What do you think it’s going to take for you to be more than that and have longevity as a career?
There really isn’t a fear of the one-hit wonder side. There is that one thing in the back of our heads going on, like, “Let’s not be the ‘Apologize’ band, or the Timbaland band.” We definitely want to stray away from those two categorizations. We definitely have a lot of songs in our future. If they become hits, great. It they become part of people’s lives, so be it.
I think we’re playing music to be legends of rock [laughs], like the Rolling Stones of our time. No, I don’t know. We play every day. We live every day by that day. We are just grateful to be able to play our music. Ryan’s got a pretty good scorecard of hits, so I don’t think he’ll be short of hits. I know that sounds weird, but I kind of feel that. Who knows, though? Who knows?
Originally appeared on Mammoth Press