If someone were to ask me to list my favorite bands, Of A Revolution (O.A.R.) would most definitely be at number one. Which is saying a lot, considering I am a Michigan grad and the boys of O.A.R. got together at Ohio State, a school I have learned to loathe in the deepest part of my core. But I can’t help it; these guys are good. Really good. And no matter what is going on in my life, popping in one of their 6 albums always makes me feel better.
Imagine my excitement, then, when I found out that their newest album, All Sides was coming out July 15th (tomorrow!), I was going to be able to listen to it before it was released, and I was going to be able to interview them! Life doesn’t get much better than this. Below is my dream realized – a jovial chat with Jerry DePizzo, the ridiculously talented man behind the sax for O.A.R.
CC: I have been listening to the new album-I think it’s fantastic. Why did you call it, All Sides?
O.A.R.: Well, we wanted to make it self-explanatory, we always kind of like to – not necessarily wear our emotions on our sleeves – but kind of let everything hang out. It just means you see all sides of the band, what we can do musically and stylistically and different subject matters of which we speak out. It’s an all-encompassing perspective of OAR.
CC: In your earlier albums, you took a lot of inspiration from college, and growing up–what was your inspiration for the songs on this album?
O.A.R: Well, it’s always life experiences. Mark always takes experiences either he’s gone through himself, or people close around him have experienced and puts them into words that people can really relate to and connect with.
CC: How have those life experiences changed since you guys recorded your last album?
O.A.R.: Nothing really has changed as far as this record, other than the fact that we’ve gotten a little older, hopefully a little wiser. The 1st couple records were of wonderment and soul-searching, wondering what’s out there.
CC: Putting together an album is obviously a lot of work; what is your process? How do you decide what you want on an album?
O.A.R.: We wrote a whole batch of songs. God knows how many; 25 or 30, and we narrowed it down to 15 or 16 that we were gonna record. We wanted each one to have really a specific purpose to it and show a specific side of who we are.
CC: What was the biggest challenge for you guys when you were working on the album?
O.A.R: You know, our core audience is like 16-22, that “just getting out high school, getting into college”-aged people–and it’s pretty easy to relate to someone like that when you’re that age. As you get older, you’re obviously gonna lose touch. So, the challenge on this record is to write music that really speaks to us, and tells really what we’re dealing with and going through, but also tells it in a way that our audience really connects with us.
CC: You guys have sold over a million records in your career – what’s your next big goal?
O.A.R.: Goals change as you kind of evolve and go through things. There’s a lot of different goals that I have: I’d love to sell a million of one specific record, and I’d love to sell out stadiums and arenas and tour all over the world. I’d love to get a Grammy–all kinds of different things like that–and be recognized by our peers, and get the cover of Rolling Stone. But really, what I’d honestly love to do more than anything is just keep doing this as long as I want to do it.
CC: Do you ever think to yourself that you never want to play “A Crazy Game of Poker” again?
O.A.R.: I never want to play it the same way. We play that song every night, and if we played it the same it would be boring and uninspired, and you guys probably wouldn’t like it too much either, because it would show.
CC: So, how do you keep from getting bored with it?
OAR: We try to do it differently every night, something new and fresh–it’s kind of self-serving, but it helps you guys as well, because if we come up with something new and fresh and exciting and that we’re inspired by, we’re gonna play it all the more inspired. It’s gonna translate more, and you’re gonna be like ‘Wow, that’s awesome,” and “that was worth the $30 to go see them play that one song.’
CC: I’ve seen a lot of shows in my time and I have always thought it was worth the money. You guys always look like you are having the best time. Do you have as much fun onstage as you seem to, or are you playing it up?
O.A.R.: Oh, I have a blast. It’s hard to tour; if it weren’t the most fun I could ever conceive of having, it wouldn’t be worth it, to be honest. It’s pretty taxing on the people around you – you see the wear and tear it takes on your family and relationships. After a while, you question yourself: is it worth it? Then you get out on that stage and go, “Yep, definitely worth it. 110%” We really do enjoy what we do, we love what we do and love playing for people. It’s a great experience.
CC: OSU is a huge football school; were you a big Buckeye fan?
O.A.R.: I was never a guy who tailgated and stuff–I waited tables in college, and if we weren’t out touring, game days were really a good day to work because you made a ton of money. I’d buy tickets and then hawk ’em or whatever.
CC: You’ve never been to a game??
O.A.R.: I only went to one game, and I wasn’t even in college when I went. I went to Texas-OSU game at the Horse Shoe. It was great, it was an awesome experience–people are goings nuts, you can’t help yourself but take part in it and feel a part. And when they win, and you feel like you willed them to victory. And when they lose, they take a piece of you with them.
CC: So, you didn’t do football Saturdays; what was your college experience like!?
O.A.R.: Well, we had such a unique experience, almost like an athlete really, because we went to school–most of us at least went to class–Monday through Thursday or Friday, and then Friday nights we’d go out on tour, and we did that for like three years. It was a pretty unique college experience. It’s not your norm, I’ll say that.
CC: What did you learn at school that you think everyone should take to heart?
O.A.R.: I imagine at orientation, when everyone goes and you sit down, the Dean of Students or something, or president of university, will give you some sappy speech about bonds for life and meeting people, that the people you meet in college will be around and surround you for the rest of your life, and the ties that you have will be there forever. It’s sappy and completely cheesy, but it’s 110% true.
CC: I agree. Any other truths you learned in college?
O.A.R.: College is a time to really find out who you are as a person and who you want to be. It’s funny how you figure that out and move on from it, and it sticks with you.
CC: What are you guys most excited for right now?
O.A.R.: We have this new record coming out. We’re just immensely proud of it and we hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do. I hope we’re able to reach a broader audience and kind of show everybody everything we’re capable of and not just be pigeonholed as a band that people really like to drink beers to. I think there’s a lot more substance to this band and if you give it a listen, you’ll see that.
CC: I think anyone who picks up this album will fall in love. What do you think it is about the band that makes you so successful?
O.A.R.: I was trying to figure it out for years–what is it that set O.A.R. apart? What is it that we do that people really gravitate towards and connect to? And it took me forever, and I just figured it out a couple months ago–it’s not rocket science and it’s not some crazy formula: it’s just the fact that we make people feel good when we play music. We make people feel good, regardless of what we really talk about in the songs.
]Editor’s Note: All Sides is O.A.R.’s best album yet. This is a must-have. Go get it!]