Exclusive: O.A.R. hits the road
'It's Summer Camp on Wheels,' says front man Marc Roberge
While a rock star's life on the road may seem glamorous, O.A.R. front man Marc Roberge jokes just try finding a little space to call your own.
"I've sat on every shitty back alley of every shitty club in America, and some of the good ones too, just looking for a little piece and quiet," he laughs.
Otherwise, life is good for the Maryland-based rock band, very good, in fact. Twelve years after the release of its first album, the group continues to reach new success levels: current single "Shattered (Turn the Car Around)" is the biggest radio hit of its career.
With its catchy melody and sing-a-long lyrics, it's easy to miss "Shattered's" message about taking responsibility for one's life in an age where blame is all too easily passed around. "In everybody's life, they're surrounded by excuses: their wife, their boss, their husband is holding them back, they think. When, in reality, no one is holding them back, you can't blame everyone else for it," Roberge, 30, says. The song came "from constantly hearing people that are lost. I'm lost too. The most important thing is you just don't know anything. I was never happier than the day I realized I don't know shit. My life has been great since."
O.A.R. remains a strong concert draw, including headlining Madison Square Garden. It has grown far beyond its roots as a college jam band.
After a brief hiatus, O.A.R.-which stands for Of a Revolution-- is back on the road supporting "All Sides" (Everfine/Atlantic) the band's sixth studio album. The CD has spent 18 weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 13.
"This tour is all about taking the songs we love and twisting them," Roberge tells Hitfix. "We want to get out there and fuck with the songs in a way," he says. "People will recognize them. We're just going to find more freedom inside of them."
For those about to rock, he has a warning: "Bring your earplugs. We're pretty loud for a couple of pop kids."
Those "pop kids" are guitarist Richard On and drummer Chris Culos, who, along with Roberge, formed a band in 8th grade, united in their love for Pearl Jam. In 11th grade, bassist Benj Gershman joined and in 2000, saxophonist Jerry Depizzo came aboard.
After a dozen years of recording, Roberge says the thrill is far from gone. "When I‘m on stage and I've gotten through the first couple songs and it hits me that the band is on autopilot in a good way-- we can play off each other, we can do what we did in the basement when we were kids-- that's when it hits me that's what I want to do the rest of my life. There are days when I wake up [on the road] and I want to be at home and it lasts 10 minutes. I look around stage and my best friends in the world are on stage and we're playing music and people are liking it. All it takes is this one little moment when we click. That's what keeps me going."
In fact, like many musicians, stage is where Roberge feels most at home. "To this day, I walk around society a little uncomfortable, a little uneasy," he says. "The second I get on stage, that's my family. It's like a gang: us and our crew. We look at it like a summer camp on wheels. We get to be 20 forever."
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