Rising Stars [Issue
O.A.R. On Top By
Stories Of A Stranger
music is probably as good a term as any to describe the free-flowing jam-band
sound of O.A.R. The five-piece has quickly built an ever-increasing fan base
of college kids and urban bohemians through their marathon live sets, their
Dave Matthews-meets-reggae sound, and their friendly, uplifting lyrics. O.A.R.
(Of A Revolution") is set to release their fourth studio album, Stories
of a Stranger (Everfine/Lava Records), on October 4.
Though the band
members live in different cities (they began in Rockville, MD, then found early
success at Ohio State University), the quintet now uses New York City, home
of Lava, as a sort of headquarters. Stories was produced by former Talking Head,
Jerry Harrison, and O.A.R. is prepping to embark on one of their biggest tours
yet. All signs may be pointing to a monumental breakthrough for the band, but
they're content to just keep playing music.
"It's not like we're thinking about this tour as the biggest thing we've
ever done," said bassist Benj Gershman in a phone interview with ONE WAY,
"We're just gonna go out and tour, play shows, and have a great time."
Along with Gershman, O.A.R. consists of singer/guitarist Marc Roberge, saxophonist
Jerry DePizzo, drummer Chris Culos, and guitar player Richard On.
Though the venues may be getting bigger, the group's fun, intimate live set
isn't going to change. "We try to hold onto the same mentality, regardless
of the size of the show," said Gershman, who also noted the importance
of audience excitement. "I think that's the most important thing at a live
show. Without the audience being into what's going on onstage, there's no show,"
Gershman said. "The show isn't just about us, it's about everyone that's
there," he continued, "so it's integral that they have a good time
and that they react however they're gonna react and then we react how we're
gonna react. It's a two-way street."
For Stories of a Stranger, O.A.R. attempted to replicate the live experience
in the studio. "Its difficult to maintain that sort of energy because
you do a lot of takes of the same thing and it gets tiring," Gershman explained.
"And there aren't people there to keep you pumped up, so it's tough. We
do strive for that, but it's not always as easy. "
Having Harrison (who's worked with No Doubt, Live, and others) around aided
the band. "It helped us achieve the sound we wanted," noted the bassist.
"I really think it's the record we always wanted to make. It represents
what we're capable of live, but through a studio recording. There are songs
that represent our island influence and there are songs that represent our rock
influence. And I think Jerry had a lot to do with bringing that out."
Those influences come from all sorts of music. "Everyone has their own
taste and that's kind of what makes us the band we are," said Gershman.
A quick scan through his latest listenings revealed Curtis Mayfield, Elvis Costello,
and Alternate Routes, who will be opening for O.A.R. on tour.
"We're really proud of all the work we've put in to get where we are,"
Gershman concluded. "If we grow and get to the place that people are talking
about us getting to, that'd be great," he said. "But if it fizzles
away, we'll still be proud of what we've accomplished. So, we're kind of in
a win-win situation."
Stories Of A Stranger