Sometimes it takes 12 years to become an overnight success. At least, that’s Of a Revolution’s story.
From the Mouths of Babes
Most children know from an early age what they really want to be when they grow up. The members of O.A.R. are no different. Before O.A.R. was O.A.R., three 8th grade boys decided music was their calling. So vocalist/guitarist Marc Roberge, guitarist Richard On and drummer Chris Culos formed their first attempt at a band. Picking up bassist Benj Gershman in 11th grade, the young musicians moved forward…never looking back.
O.A.R. added saxophonist Jerry DePizzo at Ohio State University and the college boys started their unorthodox push towards fame. Through word of mouth, the band began playing as many shows as they could. Marketing to the college crowd, the campus, along with fraternities and sororities, became their main venue, and college radio stations beamed O.A.R. over local airwaves. Playing to any and all audiences, the group’s popularity increased. As they grew, both in success and as a band, they enlisted the help of the internet, steaming video shows to anyone willing to watch. They were able to use technology to reach out to a wider audience – an audience so wide, in fact, that the boys from Maryland eventually went on to sell out Madison Square Garden.
Pick or Pan
While music critics consistently pan O.A.R.’s music (Rolling Stone gave “All Sides” two out of five stars and the All Music Guide awarded it 2.5), to fans they seem definitely a pick. Something in their music obviously resonates with listeners.
“People often tell me that they relate to us and our music, not just with the words, but with the general manner in which we act and perform. I tell them that may be because there is no ‘act’,” Marc Roberge states on the band’s site. “We are just five friends playing songs we love to play and enjoying every minute of it. The audience can relate because we are having just as much fun as they are. And we are writing about many of the same life experiences they are living or have lived, not some fantasy world that puts rock bands behind some sort of one-way mirror ten feet above the crowd.”
O.A.R. stays close to its fan base by playing smaller venues, where audiences get a more up close and personal view. They are also treated to a sixth “touring member” of O.A.R., Mikel Paris.
While on a stop in Los Angeles last week, the group held the mixed-age audience at the intimate Club Nokia captivated. Every seat at the venue was a good seat, and the crowd loved what they saw, and heard, on stage. Opening for O.A.R. at the L.A. show was Eric Hutchinson, a young singer-songwriter who plays in the rock/folk pop/soul genre. Entertaining and funny, Hutchinson warmed up fans before the energetic headliners took to the stage. The acoustics at Club Nokia were very good, and the performers’ passion for their blend of music, mostly pop with some reggae influences, came through loud and clear. The band obviously loves what they do.
“Right now, on this day, ‘All Sides’ represents where we are as a band and how far we have come,” says frontman Roberge. “It makes me love playing music for a living, writing songs, and driving across the country with my best friends.”
The tour still has a few upcoming dates, and then the band makes an interesting departure: Spending four days with fans on a cruise ship out of Los Angeles in March with host John Mayer, Guster and others.
For more information on O.A.R., visit www.ofarevolution.com.
Photography: AJ Ogaard