Posted On 14 Apr 2015
Tag: All Access, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Benji Gershman, Bob Dylan, Chris Culos, Dave Grohl, Favorite Song, Jack White, Jerry DePizzo, Madison Square Garden, Marc Roberge, MTV, New Basement Tapes, O.A.R., Ohio State, Peace, Pearl Jam, Red Rocks, Richard On, The Gorge, The Rockville, The Wanderer, Walk The Moon
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 just this past June. The band is well known for their live shows and extensive summer touring.
Learn more about O.A.R in the following interview with members, Chris Culos (the first 6 questions) and Benj Gershman (the last 5 questions):
Can you guys remember the day that you started this band? What brought you all together in the first place?
The band formed in ’96, but a lot of the story began 3 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 2 years later when we went to Ohio State after high school and he was the very first person we met in the dorms.
How did your band’s name come about?
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.
More times than not, influences tend to bleed through. What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
Everyone in the band listens to such a variety of music, it’s really cool, and it all works it’s 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 drummer’s 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.
O.A.R. has released 8 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?
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.
Your song “Peace” found on The Rockville has really seen a lot of success. What was the inspiration for that song? Did you guys have a lot of control for the video?
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.
I just started listening to your single, “Favorite Song” and the lyrics are incredibly charming and sweet. Who is it about exactly?
“Favorite song” is a kind of love story with music – not a person. It’s about recalling that emotion that was 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 Mark’s favorite lyrics of other musicians and artists but they do tell a story about our passion for music as well.
Living or dead, who would you guys love to work with and why?
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.
Along with studio albums, you guys have also released five records of various live performances. What made you guys want to do that?
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.
With all your touring experience, what’s a venue and/or crowd that has really stood out to you all? Are they any places you have yet to play at?
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, 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.
Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
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.