O.A.R. has been going strong since 1996 and is showing no signs of slowing down. And unlike other bands that switch out multitudes of members, have messy dealings with narcotics, and infamous scandals, the chill alternative act has kept a humble air about it, not allowing fame to get to its collective head. In fact, the band recently visited its hometown in Rockville, Maryland, to get in touch with its roots and film home movies documenting their journey.
O.A.R. will be making a South Florida stop this Saturday at Boca's Mizner Park Amphitheatre. We got to chat with the band's lead singer, Marc Roberge, about the mispronunciation of the band's name and what it was like working with Jeep for the "Jeep on the Rocks" video.
New Times: You founded O.A.R. in 1996 with your Rockville high school classmates [saxophonist Jerry DePizzo joined while members attended Ohio State University]. Do you guys ever get tired of each other?
Marc: No, we really don't. I think it's just been such a long relationship that we are part of each other's life, DNA, and family. And if we have a problem, it's worked out way before anything happens.
What is it like knowing people for that long?
It's just really important to show respect to each other. It's a really respectful environment. It's how it should be.
Your last album was inspired by your hometown. Can you talk about the importance of holding on to your hometown?
It becomes easier to write, exploring a place you know because you already know the characters and the set and the scene is our life. It's an easy one to write. Now we are really enjoying promoting it.
You guys recently shot a video with Jeep called "Jeep on the Rocks." Is that a new sponsor for you guys?
Yeah, I wish it was a sponsor! No, we did a show together [O.A.R. at Red Rocks in Colorado show put on by Jeep and Pandora] on October 4, and we went up into the mountains of Colorado with some Jeeps and everyone got to work with them. I hope we get to work with them again, they are a really great company.
It's very rare to play Red Rocks twice in one year, so we got really lucky.
Can you elaborate on what you said: "Rockville was the catalyst then, and it's the catalyst now"?
We made our first record in 1996, and it was written about leaving Rockville and going on a trip. It was called the Wanderer and it was about going on a trip and leaving.
I grew up there with everything it inspired me to write, and for the new album, it inspired me to write now. It was the catalyst then, and it's the catalyst now as in it is the core inspiration.
You guys have done eight studio albums. What's next?
Well, that's a good question. Right now, we are touring and promoting the Rockville LP. I imagine when winter comes and the snow falls, I'll be writing a new album.
What is your favorite part of performing in Florida?
I just enjoy performing, playing songs and taking a break from the real world two hours a night, putting on a tour to an amazing audience, especially during this time of year.
On your band's Facebook page, you guys posted Matt Nathanson and his video for the Starkey Hearing Foundation, benefiting those with hearing disorders. Are you guys involved in any charity or are planning to be?
Oh yeah, I mean, Matt is a close friend we've known forever and we're really proud of him and everything he has done.
We've been making records since the '90s, and we found ourselves lined up with the USO to Wounded Warriors to troops in Iraq. It's a great connection for us to be close to those that are fighting for our country.
We also work with the Children's Scholarship Fund in New York, putting kids in school.
Your name is O.A.R. (short for Of a Revolution). Can you tell me how you came up with it and do people ever call you "oar"?
Yeah, I mean people have been calling us "oar" for a long time, and we're just happy they're calling us at all.
We got the name in the basement of our drummer's house back in high school. We were making music that was new to us, and we liked it. It was like an afterschool band of brothers.
We changed it from Of a Revolution to O.A.R. after we got a little big because it's easier to put on markees and stuff and people started calling us "oar," which is fine by me.
How was it filming the "home movies" and how did that help with your newest album?
It was amazing. It was really fun to go back to high school and go back to places that inspired our new album. We really enjoyed being home with our family. That was really special and I think it shows in the videos.
O.A.R. with Andy Grammer 7 p.m., Saturday, November 15, at Mizner Park Amphitheater. 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Visit Ticketmaster.
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