Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Interview with Benj Gershman of O.A.R.

The American rock, multi-instrumental collective Of A Revolution (better know as O.A.R.) are back with their seventh studio album, King, released August 2.

Now 15 years into their career, O.A.R. have sold nearly 2 million albums, had a platinum hit single with the song “Shattered,” sold out Madison Square Garden twice and are still keeping their audience engaged with King.

The band, comprised of Marc Roberge, Richard On, Benj Gershman, Chris Culos and Jerry DePizzo, took a new approach with this album and recorded pieces of it in each band member’s current city of residence. Trekking to Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Wasington, D.C. and New York City, they hit various studios and wrapped all the sounds in one giant bundle for their new record.

“Our intention with this album was to make the record that we wanted to make,” Gershman explains. “We wanted it to have the energy that we think of as O.A.R. but also have it be new and fresh.”

O.A.R.’s sixth album, All Sides (2008) was home to their first platinum single, “Shattered.” In creating King, Gershman says the band dealt with the internal pressure to follow up with something equally appealing.

“We as a group always strive to get better as individuals and as a band. With that is an element of evolving,” he points out. “It’s really just one of those things – we wanted a lot of people to enjoy this new record, and we hope that even more people than before will appreciate this new album.

“We want it to have as much appeal to our core audience that’s been there for years as well as to those that have not really heard us before.”

Even after their cross-country-style recording, O.A.R. felt their project was missing one element needed to round it out into a cohesive whole. But before they could pin it down, a giant curveball took them wholly by surprise.

Nasim, Roberge’s wife, was diagnosed with cancer last September. In light of the diagnosis, the band decided it was time to take some time off and allow Roberge to be at home with his wife and family.

“Nasim is not only Marc’s wife; she’s a very close friend and we all consider her family,” Gershman says.

“It was a very rough time for all of us. We all knew we needed to give Marc the time he needed to be at home to be with his family and support his wife. In that regard, it was a no-brainer. They mean the world to us. We love them.”

A year later, with Nasim past the cancer scare, things have come full-circle. The album is now complete and on store shelves. This summer, the guys participated in the Dave Matthews Caravan music festivals, and now they’re gearing up to hit the road for their fall tour on the heels of King.

Though the past year has been fraught with emotion, O.A.R. recognize that something beautiful did emerge from it all – had the pain not prodded Roberge, he might never have written their single “Heaven” about the experiences of the frightening year.

The main yarn of the song asserts, “I don’t want to go to Heaven if I can’t get in.” The verses read like a love letter from Roberge to his wife in the middle of her illness:

“All I ever wanted was a shot at your love/ I know and I believe/ Everything we got is everything we need/ Love’ll get you higher/ It set my heart on fire/ I know it’s what you see/ Don’t wanna go to Heaven if they don’t want me.”

“I think everything happens time-wise for a reason,” Gershman concludes. “This album doesn’t make sense without that song on it. In a weird way, I think that’s what was missing. Obviously, we would choose health over having a new song in a heartbeat, but that’s what was going on and that’s what he was writing about.

“The emphasis of that song is choosing life, not choosing to let go,” he adds. “Accept fate and live the life you have. Own it! Always try to be in the moment, when you have every moment right in front of you.”

No comments:

Post a Comment