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O.A.R. at the Fillmore, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2018

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O.A.R. is making a strong start to its next 20 years.

The group, which formed in Maryland and accelerated professionally while its members attended Ohio State University during the late 90s, celebrated its 20th anniversary a couple of years back. Still riding that wave, the quintet is preparing for next year's release of "The Mighty," its ninth studio album and first set of new material in nearly five years.

In front of that, O.A.R. (which stands for Of A Revolution) has released two new tracks, "Just Like Paradise" and the single "Miss You All the Time," which has been gaining traction since its release this fall. The group will be playing those as well as previewing new material during its latest tour, a 12-date trek design to keep its musical muscles warm and stoke interest in what frontman Marc Roberge promises will be a busy new year...

O.A.R. is currently finishing work on "The Mighty," and Roberge says by phone that the group has taken it time working on the set, recording at his studio in New York. "It's been a very stretched-out pace. I started the project a few months ago and have been chipping away at it, as opposed to renting a house somewhere and finishing the whole thing in a month or two. That's made it easier. It's better stretching out over the course of the year -- writing, recording, releasing a single, taking time with every single aspect of it and not being rushed 'cause of budgetary restraints. It's been much more relaxed."

On the production side, O.A.R. is working with old friend Greg Wattenberg and newcomer Pom-Pom (Helen Pomerantz), with the latter doing the bulk of the work. "She's a very young producer and just incredible, in my eyes. We're enjoying having a new perspective. We've not had a female producer up to this point, so that's great; I don't know what it brings to the party versus a man, but the combination of that and of someone young who grew up listening to us a little bit and has had a different experience than us is interesting. She's putting a spin on what O.A.R. could be in 2018. She's expressing her own art and utilizing our songs to do that. That's pretty exciting for us, to have someone saying, 'This is what I think you guys could do.'"

Roberge says "Miss You All the Time" is "a song that was written straight from the heart," inspired by an old friend who tried to get in touch with him after a long time apart. "We just cold never connect, and I don't know that I was making the ultimate effort to connect. And then one night, tragically, he was (killed) defending a stranger from being harassed by somebody. I realized that when people are reaching out like that, trying to connect, you need to call them back 'cause you never know when you won't be able to talk to them anymore. And during the process of writing the song another friend who was very, very close was taken away. It solidified for me that you can sit and wallow and be completely crushed and sad about these tragic loses or I could try to find some sort of bright side and meaning and share that, which is what O.A.R. songs have always been about."

The title for "The Mighty" was inspired by former Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, a friend of O.A.R. "Three years ago he introduced us one night and came out and said, 'Give it up for the mighty O.A.R.!' I remember hearing that and thinking, 'That's an album title.' I knew I wanted to make an album called 'The Mighty O.A.R.,' so we have to live up to that. The songs have to be new, they have to be fresh and have foundation and matter for us and our fans."

Roberge says that a couple of his bandmates are "go hard" with their Ohio State loyalties, which makes playing in Michigan a potentially testy situation -- especially the week before the two schools' annual football match. "One of our guys was in the Ohio State Marching band, so he is the real deal. We're all in; When the game's on we're not sound checking. We're watching. However, these days I'm more a fan of just the competition. I'm down for whatever; I just want to see a good game. So it's less about, 'F*** them' or whatever. I'm just, 'Alright! Let's have a good game!' I'm more about the game than who wins -- really. I'm not just saying that."

O.A.R. performs Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Fillmore Detroit. Doors at 7 p.m. $30.50-$75.50. 313-961-5451 or thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

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