O.A.R. In-depth Biography
O.A.R. (an acronym for the band's full moniker, Of a Revolution) transformed themselves from local Ohio State University bandmates to Billboard chartbusters over the course of a long, varied career. First, two of the band's demo recordings were hawked on university campuses. Then, news spread about the band's roots rock and reggae-inflected songs, which owed much to the jam band genre. Before long, O.A.R.'s website had turned into a highly-trafficked internet destination, and the group gradually left the college scene for the bright lights of national stardom.
Formed in 1996 in Rockville, MD, O.A.R. coalesced around lead singer/rhythm guitarist Marc Roberge, lead guitarist Richard On, saxophonist Jerry DePizzo, bassist Benj Gershman, and drummer Chris Culos. Roberge had known Culos since childhood; he also played in local bands with On and Gershman. DePizzo, who hails from Youngstown, OH, met the other Maryland natives at Ohio State, and the band made its recorded debut with the release of an independent demo, 1997's The Wanderer. Many of the songs on O.A.R.'s debut disc were written while Roberge and Culos were living in Israel.
Two years later, the switch from student band to headlining act started with the arrival of an intensely popular song titled "That Was a Crazy Game of Poker." (Many lyrics for the band's songs came from Roberge's interest in literature, particularly Stephen King's novel The Stand.) The group went back into the recording studio for a second demo, which was released independently as Souls Aflame in 1999. With the success of 2001's Risen, Roberge began writing songs for a new CD late that year. To appease their dedicated fan base, they issued a live album, Any Time Now, in the spring of 2002 and subsequently signed with Lava/Atlantic for the release of 2003's In Between Now and Then. Additional tour dates led to the release of 34th & 8th, the band's second live offering. The band returned to the studio again with 2005's Stories of a Stranger, which contained a pair of Top 20 Hot AC hits in "Love and Memories" and "Heard the World." The Live from Madison Square Garden CD/DVD appeared in 2007. O.A.R.'s slickest album yet, the commercially-minded All Sides, was released in 2008, followed in 2009 by the four-disc live set Rain or Shine. ~ Robert Hicks, Rovi