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VISITING ACT ‌ Oh, Are They?

O.A.R. carefully plan their next revolutionary action

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O.A.R. are drowning deep inside your water
  • O.A.R. are drowning deep inside your water
O.A.R.
w/ Michael Tolcher
Fri. May 5
8 p.m.
$22.50 (all ages)
House Of Blues, Myrtle Beach
4640 Highway 17
843-913-3740
www.hob.com
www.ofarevolution.com

The members of Ohio-based alterna-pop jammers O.A.R. (a.k.a. "Of a Revolution") sometimes think too many people dismiss the group as just another jam band, a label that essentially suggests the group's songwriting chops aren't nearly as developed as their playing abilities.

O.A.R. sax player Jerry DePizzo says his group doesn't expect their recently released fifth studio CD, Stories of a Stranger, to transform them into another Beatles — the rare group that was hugely popular with both critics and the mainstream music audience. But the group doesn't want to be just another Phish in the jam band sea, either.

"We wanted to get rid of the jam band stigma," he says. "We basically wanted to send a big 'fuck you' to everybody that says the band doesn't have any songs and we were just a jam band and there's no place for us on radio and there's no place for us in the mainstream market."

To that end, the guys in O.A.R. made some major changes in how they approached the process of making a studio album. They changed producers, hiring former Talking Heads guitarist/keyboardist Jerry Harrison in place of John Alagia, who had produced the group's two most recent studio records, and mixed a live release, Any Time Now.

The group's songwriters, guitarist/singer Marc Roberge and guitarist Richard On, also collaborated with such hit-making outside songwriters as Glen Ballard, Jeff Trott, and Peter Zizzo. Given O.A.R.'s history as a do-it-yourself band, the outside songwriting help is an especially notable departure for the band.

Formed in 1997 in Rockville, Md., Roberge, On, bassist Benj Gershman, and drummer Chris Culos self-released their album The Wanderer before they started college. DePizzo came on board in time for the recording of the 1998 CD Souls Aflame, which was also self-released.

In 2001, O.A.R. signed with Atlantic-affiliated Lava Records, ending the band's days as a do-it-yourself operation. The group's first studio effort on Lava, In Between Now And Then, arrived in 2003.

In making Stories of a Stranger, DePizzo said O.A.R. was determined to take their music to a new level. Using outside songwriters, such as Ballard, was a key step in that process.

"It was something that we were very reluctant to do at first," DePizzo says of the collaborations. "That was something we approached very cautiously. There are songs on this record that we've written with that radio play in mind. I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all. I'm very proud of these songs, and we challenged ourselves to be O.A.R. in a way that could reach a broader audience that could work with radio."

O.A.R. return to the S.C. coast this summer for a concert at the Family Circle Stadium on Daniel Island on Mon. Aug. 5 with supporting act Jack's Mannequin. Tickets to this show are available through Live Nation by phone at 800-514-3849 or online at www.livenation.com.

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