Today’s Feature – June 24-25: O.A.R.

June 25, 2008 at 2:45 pm (Today's Feature)

When we first started, we dreamed of profiling some of the planet’s best upcoming artists, from the world of art, music, stage, anywhere creative work was being undertaken. The idea of having some of the ridiculously huge acts we’ve featured on here wasn’t even a seed in our heads, and today’s feature is no exception. O.A.R., the local guys who grew up right down the street are the pride of Maryland, DC and Virginia, and we were lucky enough to get some time in with lead singer, Marc Roberge.

Not to take anything away from the fine people of The Ohio State University where the band truly started to gel together, but we in the middle of the east coast (including the Baltimore-based consider O.A.R. as one of our own, and we tend to stoutly defend such a claim. The band (otherwise known as � of a revolution) took college campuses by storm through some intense online music distribution with personal songs relating to both life at OSU as well as growing up in Rockville, MD.

Their story is remarkable, a feel-good tale about fine music naturally finding its way into the hands of great fans. Armed with nothing but talent – no giant labels, no huge PR firms, no marketing plan – O.A.R. grabbed the nations attention through classic word-of-mouth with funky tunes such as “That was a Crazy Game of Poker” and “Night Shift.” And this was all while graduating on time from Ohio State. Just imagine a handful of these guys running into your classroom late – playing in front of thousands one night and taking an exam the next morning.

The much anticipated follow-up to 2005’s “Stories of a Stranger” will arrive on July 15th in the form of “All Sides.” Roberge says “All Sides represents what we think is all sides of OAR� It tells a lot of different stories, from our own personal experiences – love, loss, all things we’ve gone through over the last ten years.” Have you heard some of the tracks off of this thing? Songs like “Shattered” and “This Town” explode with a sensation that can only be described as O.A.R. – booming with life and jumping with electricity, and always capturing the feeling of a live show that the band excels in.

I could write on and on about their music, but I’d be amiss to ignore their other work, namely their activity in Kuwait and Iraq on the USO tour as well as their “Heard the World Fund.” The band has always found a way to give back, and this fund focuses on education and children, taking 50 cents from every ticket sold and putting it towards educational initiatives everywhere. I’m sure you’ll be busy looking into all of the sides of O.A.R., but make time to grab the new album and catch a show, as they tour from June through Thanksgiving. If you’ve never been to one of their live performances, just picture “the heir to the Dave Matthews throne” for an idea of what to expect. I’m not kidding. Learn so much more below in the XXQ’s.

XXQs: O.A.R. – Marc Roberge (Richie): Hey Marc, how are things? Where’d I catch you?

Marc Roberge (Marc): Hey man, things are good. Just working on making sure I can be a musician for the rest of my life (laughs). I’m at home now in New York, trying to get stuff done around the house before the summer rolls around – which gets real hectic. So, today we (my wife and I) are going out to get a new bed and possibly some new lighting.

Richie: Wow man, a pretty big day for the Rogerge family, huh?

Marc: Yeah well, I don’t get much time to do things like this so it’s always cool.

Richie: The tour starts in June right?

Marc: We’re doing some other stuff before then but then yeah, kicking off the tour then. Then doing another tour.

Richie: So going back a little bit to when you were in college at Ohio State, the band then, really started to take off. You were becoming a huge draw, people knew the songs and you were traveling all over… what was it like to balance school and the music career?

Marc: Yeah, I mean it was really hard. In high school we done it and put out a record and did shows. But when we got to college, we were required to travel all the time. So every Thursday to Sunday night we were on the road – In a van, somewhere in the Midwest or on a plane to the west coast. I just told myself, I had no choice, I wasn’t going to drop out of college, I only had a little bit more to go and I just really took the challenge head on. We’d find ourselves traveling back in the van with one light in the back, so only one person could study. I learned how to study in the back of a van, I learned how to study in the back of a bar, I learned how to study in all these weird situations and plus I was taking double the credits, since I wanted to graduate on time. We were definitely going on tour in May 2001, so it was either do or die. We had to get it done by then. I remember it being very hard but incredibly fulfilling. When I could show up to a class and do a test, or write a paper… I mean, my teachers knew my situation, they knew what we did for a living… they didn’t give us any slack but they allowed us to an “ok” to come to class a little late every once and a while.

It was pretty hard but the rewards out weighed the difficulty. It wasn’t something like I just wanted to get by. When you are doing something for yourself and no one else, you just feel better about it.

Richie: You talk about road life then, but what is life on the road like for the band now?

Marc: It’s a lot easier, I’ll tell you that much man. We have a couple buses now – we are probably going to take on a third. We’re more comfortable. A lot more flying. To get on a tour bus with your five best friends, I mean, these were my buddies from high school and college and it’s great. You go to bed after a show on a bus and then you wake up in another city. The hardest part is finding something to do during the day. I’ve started to run out of things to entertain myself. But you got to be creative and stuff. Being away from home is the hardest part – no matter what kind of vehicle you are in.

Richie: When you aren’t performing or touring, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

Marc: You know, I’m kind of like “Tim The Toolman Taylor”. I love the domestic life. I love being married. I love coming home and trying to fix stuff. I’m not very good at it all the time but I’m trying. I love walking my dogs. I like watching Americana TV with my wife. There is something just really cool about 6PM come along and sitting down to dinner with my wife and having a good meal, walking the dog and then going to bed.

I’m not into the nightlife. I’m not interested in clubs, I’m not in bars – I live in bars! I want to enjoy New York City in the daytime. I’m kind of like my father is; I like to play golf, be married and have a cup of coffee in the morning while I read the paper (laughs). A lot of people ask me, “Do you go to movie premiers and stuff?” And I’m like everyone else, I go to the movies just like you. I love suburban life in the city.

Richie: That’s pretty cool.

Marc: Cool, but some would say boring or even surprising.

Richie: Well, I was going to ask what’s one thing that people would be surprised to hear about you. I guess that is it. But what about the other guys?

Marc: We have a couple of guys who are married. But we are away so much, eight or nine months a year that the little stuff at home, means so much. We have one guy with a little three year old and like going home and mowing the lawn is a big deal to him. We have a couple guys like that and then we have some that are really into the social scene. Like your website is, we have a guy in the band that has a site called that is for writers and artists to go and be seen. He’s really into that. We let him handle all that. None of us are crazy partiers. We’ve done that and now it’s all about maintaining mental health – a way you can enjoy this job and have a good home life too.

Richie: With traveling, do you find a certain city to be the best for the band?

Marc: Yeah, I think Maryland, DC, Virginia is always a good time and a homecoming. A place like Chicago has become a great place to go too. New York has become a huge market for us but I think that is the kids from Connecticut and New York and Jersey to come to our bigger shows in the summer and winter. LA has become great as well.

Personally, I love being out west on the west coast – LA, San Francisco. Especially the weather. We’ll go out there to record a record but really it’s the weather (laughs).

Richie: Tell us about the latest album, “All Sides”.

Marc: All Sides represents what we think is all sides of OAR. It was written in situations and different locations; we were in Iraq for a USO tour and wrote songs there and when we came back. All the songs are all the sides of our collective musical influences. It’s something that has a lot of sides and that’s what the record is. It tells a lot of different stories, from our own personal experiences – love, loss, all things we’ve gone through over the last like ten years. It’s really culminated on this album.

Richie: How is it different than “Stories Of A Stranger”?

Marc: Story Of A Stranger was a real stepping-stone, it was a learning experience for us. We were experimenting with co-writing, which was new. That record allowed me to meet new people and write songs with them. It opened my eyes to take in other people’s ideas and talents and try to learn their skills. This album is different because I had that experience of going and working with someone else or just doing it on my own. I take what I learned and apply it to my own songs. This record was all about us. For this we wanted it to be just about OAR. I had a vision of what I wanted it to sound like and sound like us.

Richie: Is there a certain environment you have to be in to write music?

Marc: That’s a good question! I mean a lot of guys will sit in a room with a bunch of candles but… I mean today I was walking the dog and thought of a melody. I went home and jotted it down. You know for me, every time I set up the environment to write it doesn’t work. I prefer it to just happen. But I went with Glen Ballard to write and we’ll just sit around and talk for a few hours, drink some tea and if a song comes, it comes. It happens more often now.

Richie: You also have the “Heard The World Fund”, which focuses on education and children. Tell us more about that. What made you decide to take on this project?

Marc: We’ve always wanted to give back. I mean, everyone always says they want to and it’s true. You are given all theses great things in life and it’s your turn to give back. We really believe that and wanted to do it. So, we take money from every ticket sold, 50 cents and put it into a fund. Then over the year we find something that we feel passionate about and donate a large sum of money. Like “Classroom Wish List”, which gives teachers in areas and counties that don’t get paper, markers and stuff like that. Currently we put a bunch of money towards sending under privileged kids to private school for a year. We just believe that education is the key. Americans, we see the graduation rate dropping, and the interest in school dropping. We also like to support our guys overseas as well. We just feel like this is something we should be doing.

Richie: Tell us about the USO tour you did.

Marc: We went to Kuwait and then went to Iraq for a week. The weird thing about Iraq is that everyone is working. So, you’d have all these people around for a show and then something happens and they’re all gone. It was a great experience, as far as life experience goes. It opened my eyes to see all the work that people are doing over there. Doctors that are willing to help anyone. No one knows about the stuff they do and we got to see it. We were surrounded by all these warriors that put their life on the line, literally. I mean there was a rocket attack while we were there and two people died. It was a great experience but it’s something I hope I never have to do. I think that war is fundamentally wrong and these are just kids out there.

Richie: Is there an artist right now that you think we should all be checking out?

Marc: Well my personal taste in music is certainly not mainstream or cool (laughs). For me, Ryan Adams, not Brian, Ryan, is the end all be all for songwriters. His last album especially is filled with great songs. I heard of something yesterday that a friend of mine sent me and they are cool as shit, Vampire Weekend. I listened to it and they are really, really good. Also, Matt Nathanson is one my favorites. He’s like one of my best friends in the music business and co-wrote one of the songs on this record called, On My Way. Ryan Adams though is where it begins and ends.

Richie: So what is next for OAR and Marc Roberge?

Marc: A lot of stuff. We are going on tour from June to Thanksgiving pretty much. We have some shows with Dave Matthews Band. We have the album coming out in July. And basically we are just going to play until they tell us to leave, and then we’ll play on their front lawn.

Richie: I don’t think they’ll be telling you to go away (laughs).

Marc: I hope not, I’m getting ready to go out a buy a new bed soon (laughs)!

Richie: Good point man. I’m looking forward to catching you guys when you come to town.

Marc: For sure man, you got to come out!

Richie: Thanks again it was great talking with you.

Marc: Thanks for taking the time.

For more information on OAR, check out


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