10 Questions with ... O.A.R.
May 4, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
O.A.R. (short for Of a Revolution) consists of lead vocalist & guitarist Marc Roberge, drummer Chris Culos, guitarist Richard On, bassist Benj Gershman, and saxophonist & guitarist Jerry DePizzo.
They have released eight studio albums, including their latest release, "The Rockville LP" in June. The band is well known for their live shows and extensive summer touring.
1) Please tell us about the day that you started this band? What brought you all together to form O.A.R?
Chris Culos: The band formed in '96, but a lot of the story began three years before that. Our singer Marc and I had seen Pearl Jam on MTV and we immediately wanted to start a band. So we recruited Richard to play guitar and we played the 8th grade talent show a few weeks later. Marc and I continued to play and write songs in my basement for the next few years. We reconnected with Richard in high school and invited him over to hear what we had been up to. Benj, who had been in the audience at that talent show, had been working with me as a lifeguard over the summer, and when I found out he played bass I invited him over to jam that day too. We clicked on the spot and O.A.R. was born that day. Some awesome amount of destiny also brought Jerry, our sax player, into our lives two years later when we went to Ohio State after high school and he was the very first person we met in the dorms.
2) How did the band's name come about?
Chris Culos: Marc had written a short story in high school called "The Wanderer" and he used a lot of characters and themes from it to write our first songs. He also suggested we take a section from one of the sentences in that short story as the band's name, "Of A Revolution." The "revolution" captured the spirit of the music we were making and what we wanted to accomplish as a band, representing our friends, family and where we come from, Rockville, MD. We shortened it to O.A.R. so it was a little easier to say.
3) Along with studio albums, you have also released five records of various live performances. What inspired you to release these performances?
Benj Gershman: We cut our teeth in the live circuit. So wanting to share that experience with our audience and with any listener goes hand-in-hand with telling people about who we are as individuals and as a band. The studio albums and the live albums all reflect where we were at that point in our career and we are proud to share each.
4) What bands are currently inspiring the music that you're making?
Chris Culos: Everyone in the band listens to such a variety of music, it's really cool, and it all works its way into our personal styles in one way or another. When we put our own individual twist on the different styles we're listening to, that's what makes it immediately recognizable as O.A.R.
Personally, I've been discovering this secret genius that's been right there in front of me this whole time, Jack White. I'm a huge fan of Walk The Moon's new album. I've also been studying a lot of what the top Nashville session drummers have been playing on. And I really enjoyed the story behind the making of the "New Basement Tapes." I've also recently discovered Bob Dylan lyrics from 1967 that were put to new, original music last year by a collection of awesome musicians from all across the board.
5) O.A.R. has released eight studio albums, including your most recent release "The Rockville LP." How do you think the band has grown and matured on each album? How different is the music on The Rockville than your previous collections?
Chris Culos: Every album has set out to tell a story. I'm very proud looking back at all of them. They all captured a moment in time and have pushed us to grow as songwriters, artists and musicians. The music on The Rockville LP came full circle because we went back home to tell the story of what shaped us early on and why we started a band in the first place. Seeing the world through the eyes of when we were 16 years old, feeling like we could take on the world, that was really empowering. There's still so much of that spirit in our band today.
6) With all your touring experience, is there a venue and/or crowd that has really stood out to you all? Are they any places you have yet to play at?
Benj Gershman: Some of my favorite venues and crowds are in places that are a little cliché to bring up. However, playing the Red Rocks Amphitheater, Madison Square Garden, and The Gorge, are some of those places. They each have an energy, and always a crowd, that is beyond any kind of excitement that we experience anywhere else. Not that our other shows are not exciting. It's just that these stand out in a manner that is extraordinary.
7) Your song "Peace" found on The Rockville has really seen a lot of success. What was the inspiration for that song? Did you control for the filming of the video?
Chris Culos: The song is about hitting a reset button in your life. The inspiration came from a period of turbulent times in our lives, and the desire to get back to an even playing field. We found comfort in knowing that it's ok to let things go and get a second chance. And even a second, second chance.
8) Listening to your single, "Favorite Song," the lyrics are incredibly charming and sweet. Who is it about exactly?
Chris Culos: "Favorite song" is a kind of love story with music, not a person. It's about recalling that emotion that we had while driving around in our suburban neighborhoods feeling the breeze and getting out of our normal way. Not only do the lyrics pull from some of Marc's favorite lyrics of other musicians and artists, but they do tell a story about our passion for music as well.
9) What artist would you like to work with and why?
Benj Gershman: I think we would each like to work with different people both alive and those no longer with us. However I think one person we could all agree on is Dave Grohl.
10) Is there anything in particular that you'd like people to take away from listening to your music?
Benj Gershman: We would like anyone who listens to our music to take away a positive feeling. Our music is about getting away from any negativity and feeling something good.
*Special thanks to Leah Adams who conducted this interview.