Click here for a printer friendly version of this page Interview of O.A.R. 02.25.2005 | posted by edpaffjr
All questions were submitted by members or visitors of the site. Thanks to them and also a big thanks to O.A.R. for allowing us to do this. Enjoy!

Adam Harding:What CD's do you have currently in your players (car, home, portable, etc.)?
Benj:I've been listening to this album by Neko Case and Her Boyfriends, Furnace Room Lullabys, its lovely. Also, the new Killers record. Brian Wilson's Smile. Also, K-Os has a song on his new record I can't stop listening to. I've been pretty stuck on old Beatles records for years also. The Beatles are always a the moment I'm listening to Wilco's Being There album.
Chris:-David Gray, White Ladder
-De La Soul, Stakes Is High
-Sublime, 40 Oz. To Freedom
-Juicy Balcony, The Juicy Balcony That We Piss off
Jerry:I can't tell you the last time I've actually used a cd player. Technology fascinates me. Any way, I've been hitting the shuffle button in itunes and letting the songs fall where they may. I've picked up Brian Wilson's Smile record that is just brilliant. I can't believe this guy writes pop songs and writes music like this as well. Marc gave me a record by this guy Ray LaMontange that I love. It is a very simple, beautiful record. The Killers record is very good, but I have to say that my favorite purchase as of late is Green Day's American Idiot. I think just an amazing record and a bold move for a "punk band."
Marc:Ray LaMontagne, The Killers, The Samples, Elton John, Peter Gabriel, Marc Broussard
Richard:American Idiot (Green Day), Trouble (Ray LaMonTagne), How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (U2)

CAmel_CAnoe:I know u guys have a big passion for music, anyone listening to you can notice that, but are there any other hobbies or passions that you guys have on the side?
Benj:I'm very into photography. In fact, I'm working on setting up a It should be up in the next couple months.
Chris:I really enjoy reading. Especially when we are on the road because it's a great way to kill some of the down time when you're traveling, and it's also nice because it's one way to get some personal space. I also love comedy movies more than anything. Especially when we are on the bus because we all have the same sense of humor and have the best time watching movies over and over again.
Jerry:I like doing yard work. I know it sounds bizarre, but I find it to be very peaceful and fulfilling. As I finish a project, I have an immediate sense of accomplishment because I can see my day's work in front of me and feel like I did something constructive with my time.
Marc:I enjoy playing golf as much as I can...which has not been very often these days. I also love to read, but haven't been taking enough time to do that lately. I am a dog lover and like to spend time with my pups when I can.

Danny Lloyd:What advice do you guys have for a band starting up, based on your experiences?
Benj:My advice would be to play music that you all like and not lose sight of the fact that you can't do it forever so enjoy every minute.
Chris:First, don't expect anything, but be ready for everything.
Second, you need to keep it fun, do what makes you happy and make choices based on what you think is right. This seems like a no-brainer, but things get complicated once agents and labels come into the picture. Actually, things get complicated way before that. But you have to keep reminding yourself that you're doing this for the love of the music and because you love doing it more than anything else. As long as you are honest about the music you're making and about the choices you make, you are doing just fine.
Finally, I think one of the most important things a new band should understand is that you shouldn't expect instant payoff. It may cost you precious money to get started, whether it's money you've saved up on your own, or like in our case borrowing from friends and family to record our first record, you should understand that for most bands it takes time to develop a relationship between yourself and an audience that will want to support you for more than just a one-time purchase. Sure, you can convince some people to buy your CD once or to come see you play, but what would make them want to come back to see you, buy some of your t-shirts, and then buy your next record? Yes, it's expensive to get started because you need to self-finance everything from equipment, studio time, cd artwork, manufacturing your discs, promoting your own gigs, traveling to gigs, printing up t-shirts to sell at your shows, etc., and you will definitely want to start making back any money you can immediately! But if you give away your music for free you will find that people are obviously more interested in checking out a band for nothing than having to pay to hear 'em. Duh. The same goes for live shows. Sure you want to play in a cool venue and get paid, but if you are open to playing anywhere you have an opportunity to play in front of people (key words in bold) you will play in front of people. Just in case you didn't grasp that deep concept, whenever you play in front of an audience people will hear you. Duh. To reiterate, it is better to for you to play any time you have the opportunity because the point is to get people to hear you. An income and a fan-base may come, but not overnight.
Jerry:I would suggest that you find a group of people that share your view and love of music. It is going to take a great deal of time to hone and perfect your sound, so make sure to rehearse as much as possible. Play anything and everything you can at the beginning-it is fun and important to play in front of people. The Internet is your friend, use it. Make a cd cheap and sell it cheap.
Marc:I always give the same advice. Be willing to play your music with your head up in any place, any time, anywhere. Never think you are below or above any gig. If your music is special to you and it comes from a pure place, people will see that and relate to your songs. Or they won't. You will never know if you are cut out for this if you don't have a few really bad nights. I have never questioned my decision to be in a band. Especially in the beginning. It just felt like my kind of after school activity. I would tell a would be band musician to learn how to shrug people off who will make it their mission to belittle your dream. You will have a lot of supporters, but it will be your ability to ignore the negative influences around you that will give you the strength you need to believe in your music with your entire being. To this day I remind myself that if I don't devote my entire soul to what I am doing, it is not worth doing at all.

firedwarftj:How do you guys pick which intro or outro to use when playing your songs? Some of the songs have several different intros/outros and I was just wondering how you decide which one to do.
Benj:There's no specific way, we just go on the vibe of the night, or what is familiar to us. A lot of times we do the same intro for a bunch of shows in a row and then we get bored with it and switch it up or make up a new one. Its pretty random I guess.
Chris:Honestly, I wish I had a better answer for you than "whatever we feel like", but I guess that's just about it. We play so often that it is important to make every effort to come up new ideas and change around old ones, not only so we are more excited about playing the songs we play almost every night, but so the audience gets something unique from night to night. Sometimes we get stuck on playing a particular intro or outro that we like and end up playing it every time we play the song for months at a time. Sometimes we have a few different intro's or outro's to a song and we choose the one we want to play that night depending on how we are feeling right there on the spot or when we make a set list prior to the show. But as "loose" as this approach may seem, we really do try to pay close attention to making not only each set list unique, but also making each song unique from night to night.
Jerry:When we get bored with one we move on to another. We may write something new or bring back an old one. It depends on what we are feeling.
Marc:Only recently have we had set intro and outros planned due to the fact that the lighting director needs some sort of setlist to follow. We rarely stick to them though. We were never too concerned with scheduling our shows. If the mood is pushing a song in a certain direction then off we go.

Karbo214:What role models did you have when you were growing up and how did they shape you into what you have become today?
Benj:I took a big part of my work ethic from my Dad. He was always traveling, running his own business and staying on top of everything going on in his life. I try to take that attitude into what I do now. As for musically, I really liked this one bass player, Jaco Pastorius, he played very melodically yet he always kept the rhythm section together in a unique and interesting way. I really enjoyed that about his style.
Chris:My grandfather was my biggest role model. He was a true gentleman. When he passed away he was the last of his kind. He always put his family first. He conducted his life, both personal and professional, with so much class that he redefined the word 'gentleman'. He was the smartest, most caring and honorable person that I have ever met. You won't see his kind of class nowadays. He was truly remarkable.
Jerry:I was very fortunate to have a very strong family growing up. I didn't have to look very far to find people to look up to. My mother and father were great parents and gave me a great childhood. I have an uncle who is about 10 years older than me. He was in a band and played guitar that I though was the coolest thing ever. He always supported me playing music and trying to do it for more than just recreation. I looked up to him as a kid and still do today.
Marc:My role models varied as years went by. My father has always been my idol. He is just a true stand-up guy. A good husband and one of the smartest people I know. Aside from him, all my role models have been musicians. Dylan primarily. It seems like with every tour I find something in one of the musicians out there that I can learn from. I am trying to pick every brain out there. I have also run into the anti-role models of the world and find comfort in knowing the difference.
Richard:My Brother was my role model in every aspect growing up, especially when it came to music (and haircuts). We took piano lessons together for many years until he finally quit. He started playing guitar and showed me how to play "Patience", which eventually led to leaving the piano lessons and starting to play guitar. Towards the end of high school he formed a band called Flicker, put out a record and began playing gigs. Next thing you know I joined Exposed Youth and was rockin the 8th grade talent show with Marc and Chris.

karen_20_99 & oarinnorthdakota:What was the most memorable encounter with your fans at a show?
Benj:My most memorable encounter...well, it would probably be the first time we got flown out for a weekend to play shows in Arizona. Our friend hooked it up with his fraternity and it was just a fun couple days meeting new people and partying. Oh yea, we played a couple shows too, they were fun.
Chris:I've had many memorable encounters with people all the time. I'm blown away at how far people travel to come see us. I never get used to it when someone says, "Hey, I just drove 14 hours to come see you guys." I just can't believe it. It means more than I could ever say.
Jerry:There is a girl who lives in Kentucky. She and her boyfriend were in a car accident that left her in a coma. Her boyfriend wasn't as fortunate. Some of her first words after regaining consciousness were pertaining to the band. Her and her family came to a show and explained to us what had happened. I was very moved by the experience.
Marc:We had a show in Houston during a very intense rainstorm. The show got moved to an indoor venue and only a handful of people came. What should have been a disaster turned into one of the most engaging experiences I have had on stage. Imagine a 3000 seat arena with about 100 kids in it. We asked some of the audience members to come on stage and play along with us. It was wild. We had two kids up there playing our songs. When I get all caught up in the hype of this business and put a ton of pressure on myself I think of times like that and they remind me how it is really all about playing music with my friends.

OARfan137:How come you guys have played "Any Time Now" only once before live? I know a lot of people think it's a great song and want to hear it more, so why is it so under played?
Benj:To be honest, I don't know why we haven't played this song more in a live setting. I really like it. We're stupid.
Chris:Probably a few reasons, but the biggest is that we want to play a song well or not play it at all. I say this a little loosely because most of the time when we want to play a really rare song and we know we can't play it well, we do it anyway because we think the "wow" factor of including it in the set list will overpower its actual shaky performance. It's tough 'cause being in the band you want everything to sound as good as possible, yet when I go see a band I'd rather hear the song I want to hear than not, even if it isn't the greatest version of all time. Sure, sometimes you can tell if a band is sounding good or not, but for the most part you don't have anything to compare it to, so unless they completely butcher the song who cares if the band wasn't thrilled with their performance of it? But we do care, and that's why we don't play songs that we don't think we can perform well. One example is "Untitled". We have always had trouble with this one. But the song is cursed so maybe that is a bad example. "To Zion Goes I" is a song where we're comfortable pulling off the overall "feel", but have trouble with the performance of the structure. Particularly during the middle section. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don't. (Mostly, I mess up the part where the song stops and then comes back in on the chorus. And by the way, this is giving me motivation to practice this song. Or at least figure out a specific part to play so that I don't mess everyone up! So maybe that way we can start playing the song more regularly.) "Any Time Now", on the other hand, is a song that we would have no problem playing the structure, but for a while we didn't feel we could capture the "feel" of the song well enough to play it live. So the song got shelved. When we wanted to play a rare song, we overlooked this one and picked other rare songs that we felt better about playing. But requests like this usually get noticed and I'm sure we'll get to work on "Any Time Now", uh, any time now. Thanks for the request! And maybe next year you'll write back asking why it's so OVER-played.
Jerry:Unfortunately, songs sometimes fall through the cracks. Anytime Now is one of them. Also, it is one of those songs that works well on record but hasn't really found its voice live. We will definitely keep it in mind to work out.
Marc:That's a good question. We never intentionally set out to avoid that song. As the year of touring following the album went on and we never played it, we probably just forgot to. Is that a horrible answer? Sometimes it feels like a song a live audience might not get into. We will give it a shot this year.

TaRaBaBiiE:Is there a band you feel you as a group look up to and admire? If so, who? Why this particular band?
Benj:I know we all respect the Dave Matthews Band a lot. They are an original group in a lot of ways. They put the time into developing their community of listeners/supporters and constantly show their appreciation for these people. Secondly, their live show is just about as good as it gets. Also, they are consistently releasing good, new music.
Chris:The band I most admire is DMB. They may not be my favorite band of all time anymore, but when I first heard them when I was 13 years old they changed my life. This was my coming of age with music, and Dave was my first favorite band. I had childhood favorites, but nothing like becoming a teenager and being so affected by music that it changes your life. I can't explain the feeling but everyone's had it. It was the most exciting time for me. An age when I was old enough to grasp onto my first favorite band, and such an exciting new sound coming from a band I knew was going to be huge.
Now, I admire them the most because of what that they have built on the own. They are so incredibly talented, yet they are so business minded that they have created an empire, completely in-house. Everything from touring, recording, merch, even management and labels.
Jerry:I love and admire the Police. This is a band that was respected and admired by critics, their peers, and by the public. They sounded like no other band, they were accomplished musicians, and they called it quits as the biggest band in the world. They had a fire to them and a great pop sensibility.
U2 is another band that I admire very much. They are the biggest band in the world and have been for years. Bono's a guy who plays in front of tens of thousands of people and then had dinner with the President before running over to Africa to help the AIDS epidemic. He's also been married to his wife for decades which I think is very admirable and special given the business. They also have written dozens of amazing songs.
I also have a great deal of respect for the Dave Mathews Band. I've had the pleasure of opening for them, seeing how they operate, and visited their headquarters in Charlottesville, VA. I really admire how they are so connected to the community of Charlottesville. It is just very impressive.
Marc:I look up to Matt Nathanson because of his experience on the road and in this business. I think he offers me the most clean view of the music industry. Not to mention what a great songwriter he is. All around good person. I have a lot of respect for so many touring acts. Too many to name really. A band like Maroon 5 shines as one of the few true band's band. These guys deserve everything they have gotten. Great songs, and a great work ethic. I love watching them succeed the way they have.

tomroc8:Pick one song you loved growing up as a kid and tell us why that song meant something to you?
Benj:I remember listening to Back In The Saddle by Aerosmith. It was so raw and Stephen Tyler just sang his ass off on the record "Rocks" that I still remember headbanging in the car while listening to it. I also have an attachment to it cause it was one of the first records I ever heard and my dad and I listened to it on the way to Seven Springs, a ski resort we took a weekend at when I was about 10.
Chris:"Thunder in your heart" from the movie "Rad". Greatest 80's movie ever, after "North Shore". Anyway, the song is so cheesy but such a classic to my brother and I because we watched this movie probably 400 times. The song comes on during the obligatory "hero can do it if he tries hard enough" scene. Yeah, there's one in all 80's movies. There is no dialogue, just a pump-you-up song and a bunch of fast-paced shots of the star "doing his best". In "Rad", this song comes on when Cru is trying to qualify for the BMX race at HellTrack. This scene probably isn't as good the montage in rocky IV when "No Way Out" plays while sly is training the old-fashioned way by running up fucking mountains in the snow, doing stomach crunches in a barn by hanging upside down from the rafters and bench-pressing a wagon(or was it a plow?) while the Russian was training with hi-tech equipment and technology, but it's pretty close.
Yeah, I guess this wasn't what you were looking for. But hey, what did you expect me to answer with, Mozart or Beethoven? You asked what I liked as a kid, geez. What were you listening to when you were 10? Miles and Coltrane, yeah right.
Jerry:Freedom-RATM: The band I played in during high school covered this song and most of the rest of the record. It was a great song to play in front of people because the roof would just explode when you did. The song just fit what I was feeling at that time, and though I was rebelling against parents and teachers instead of government, the song still fired me up inside.
Marc:I will never forget the song "Janie's Got A Gun" by Aerosmith. I just remember listening to it over and over, watching the video so intently. There was a story there that seemed so evil and powerful. The band's delivery is stellar and really captures the listener.
Can I pick two? There is a place in my heart for the song "Mean To Me" by Crowded House. My family used to go to Deep Creek Lake in the summer when I was very young. I had the Crowded House self titled album with me one summer and played it constantly. I was a young boy who had found out what he wanted to be when he grew up just by listening to a tape of songs by a group from halfway across the world. Every time I hear that song, and so many others from that record, my heart floods with love of music and I feel younger.
Richard:I loved listening to "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King when I was a kid. It was the first song that really struck an emotional chord with me.

Zing78:How do you associate with the band name/what does the name O.A.R. mean to you personally?
Benj:O.A.R. means being part of something special, something that is good for the world that I'm damn proud of. Thanks for asking. Respect.
Chris:Well, I have always liked paddleboats so I was pretty bummed when it turned out that we weren't named "Oar" after all.
I like "O.A.R." but I love what it stands for. To me, "....of a revolution." was a great name for the band because it was about playing music that we weren't hearing anywhere else. We were just making music for ourselves and for our friends. We had such a close group of friends it was unbelievable and the band wrote so many songs about them. Just hearing the words "....of a revolution." takes me back to being in high school and feeling the excitement of being in a band, hanging out with my friends and having no idea what was going to happen in my future. That feeling of the future being wide-open and me being ready for everything was as exciting as it was to be in a band that was ready for everything. And I'm as happy now as I was then because the band still feels the excitement of being ready for everything.
Jerry:O.A.R. truly means freedom to me. I am released from the daily grind of working for someone else on his or her terms. I do what I've always wanted to do for a living with four other guys who share the same goals and values as I do. I love our music and the way we go about doing things. We've built this band and its success from the ground up without having to make compromises. I feel very good about that and I sleep well at night.