O.A.R., which stands for Of A Revolution, has made itself known to most with singles “Love and Memories,” “Hey Girl” and “Shattered.”
The band’s latest single, “Heaven,” has reintroduced the group to the forefront of musical relevance since its previous record, All Sides, which was released in 2008. In support of its seventh studio album, King, O.A.R. will be touring the West Coast throughout January and February.
For O.A.R., King marks an artistic milestone in a journey that began in high school. Before selling out stadiums and going platinum, the band members filled their parents’ basements with an energy that would eventually transform into hit singles and memorable tunes. After high school, O.A.R. continued to perform together at Ohio State University, where the band’s four original members (lead singer Marc Roberge, drummer Chris Culos, bassist Benj Gershman and guitarist Richard On) attended school.
Once in college, O.A.R. added fifth member Jerry DePizzo to fill out its sound. DePizzo plays saxophone and contributes as a multi-instrumentalist.
“I met Marc [Roberge] at freshman orientation down at Ohio State,” DePizzo said. “We were buddies, and [my involvement with the band] first was helping move equipment, which turned into jamming at sound check, which turned into a show, which turned into all the shows and records.”
O.A.R. built a loyal fan base while attending Ohio State University, and it was with the support of its fans that the band was able to bring its sound to the next level of success.
“I take a lot of pride in the fact that there has always been a real grassroots, groundswell effort to grow this band,” DePizzo said. “It really came from the audience pushing us forward and moving us on to the next levels of our careers.”
In return for all the support provided by its fans, O.A.R. never showed up empty-handed to a concert.
“There was always a unique spark to O.A.R. and the[ir] concerts. O.A.R. never played to an empty house. People were always there; people were always engaged in what we were doing,” DePizzo said. “It’s exciting to look at the different shows along the West Coast and see a lot of sold out rooms.”
With the traction of a positive response in college, O.A.R. went on to release four albums. The band made its presence known to mainstream listeners when it released its fifth studio album, Stories of a Stranger, in 2005.
Today, with the successful release of its seventh album, King, O.A.R. looks to take its talents to major cities along the West Coast, including shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.
The writing process of King took the band to each member’s hometown. This opportunity gave the band a chance to see where each member’s inspirations were rooted before recording.
“We went to each individual’s respective hometown and spent a week there hanging out, writing tunes, playing together,” DePizzo said. “From that we were so much more rehearsed and polished going into the studio.”
O.A.R. has long sung tales of misdirection, as personified by its fictional character “The Wanderer” from its first album.
For a band that constantly plays with the idea of the road less traveled, King suggests that the band has just begun to understand its place in this world.
“I think [King] is a coming into your own story,” DePizzo said. “It’s about gaining the confidence, and the direction and the wherewithal within oneself to go out and lead people.”
O.A.R.’s immersion in the music world perfectly demonstrates the necessity of self-confidence. Moreover, the band showcases the need for self-discovery.
“Discover who you are. Go down that path, go on that journey, and this record sums that up. That character ‘The Wanderer’ is coming back, weathered, seasoned and ready to be the person he was destined to be,” DePizzo said. “That’s what we’re all going through in our own lives right now. It’s taking control of your own destiny and being your own man or woman.”
O.A.R. will perform in Los Angeles at the House of Blues in West Hollywood on Jan. 27.