A Revolution’s a-Comin’ … O.A.R.

Just you saying that gives me goose bumps. The fact that we are playing on the same stage is amazing. It is a real honor.


If you’re going to Dave Matthews Band on June 17, 2004 at UMB Bank Pavilion, make sure you get there early. Allow time for the crappy traffic (although the new Page Extension may help a bit with that), the pathetic parking and the pat-down police. You won’t want to miss the opening band, O.A.R. (Of a Revolution). You can also catch them a few days later when they perform at the Wakarusa Festival, Lawrence, Kansas’s answer to Bonnaroo.

I recently spoke to O.A.R.’s guitarist Richard On, who loved playing The Pageant on April 9, 2004.

The last time you were in St. Louis, you played The Pageant. How does it feel to be opening for Dave Matthews Band the first night of the summer tour for 17,000 fans?

Just you saying that gives me goose bumps. The fact that we are playing on the same stage is amazing. It is a real honor.

You have a lot in common with DMB—a jammy vibe, talented musicians, and a devoted grass roots following. How did you build your loyal fan base?

A lot of it started with a grass-roots approach. It’s been very hands-on with tape trading, file sharing, and word-of-mouth. When people hear bands other than mainstream, I think they take the band more to heart. [The band’s success] is really something they can be proud of.

You’ve been touring extensively and just finished playing a stretch of college dates. What was that like?

It was great. A lot of our following is college-based. It’s not the same feeling as The Pageant, seeing the basketball hoops and scoreboards, but we felt really welcomed. We did a show at the University of Minnesota with Robert Randolph with 6,000 fans. That was even bigger than when we sold out the Aragon [in Chicago].

I love that you teamed up with Robert Randolph to cover Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain” [available on iTunes]. How did you decide on that tune?

We wanted to do something for a charity and every penny from the sale on iTunes goes to charity. We wanted a song that would spotlight Robert’s talent on steel guitar and it fit the vibe. With that happy-go-lucky vibe and calypso part, it puts everyone in a great mood. And there was a solo for Robert to put down.

I really like the verse by Andy Dekelbaum on your liner notes [Light to dawn. Doe from fawn./Changing, migrating, living and growing/Each day that passes is a gift./Capture the essence, the beauty the lift./We can absorb the essence of the meaning of G-d./We can’t get stuck in the superficial façade./There’s more to life than money and wealth,/Explore the beauty of creation and pray for good health.] What is his relationship with the band and what made you decide to use it?

That’s kind of a sad story. He was the brother of a friend of ours who recently passed away. He left behind a poem found on a piece of paper. We used it to honor the family. It captures the feeling of the beauty of life.

What does “Dareh Meyod” mean?

It’s Farsi for “Tuesday’s Coming” [the first track on their most recent CD and first release on Lava Records, In Between Now and Then]. It’s about leaving our loved ones behind for tour on Wednesday. But we actually leave at some obscure hour in the middle of the night on Tuesday.

My favorite song on In Between Now and Then is “Right on Time”; I love the guitar on it. What inspires you? Who are your guitar heroes?

That’s good to hear, since it’s our second single. I grew up in the grunge era; Pearl Jam and Nirvana were coming out. I played classical piano when I was little for six or seven years, but it was hard to play the notes written by other people. It wasn’t a good outlet for me. My brother played guitar and I wanted to do whatever he did. He loved the Cure and New Order, which was my first concert. When the grunge era came, guitar was so powerful. When I first heard Pearl Jam, I was floored. I knew Led Zeppelin and Hendrix, but I didn’t know a lot—just the classics. Pearl Jam was influenced by Led Zeppelin and Hendrix. They got a lot of licks and styles from the older cats. Now, I’m really into the Edge from U2. He knows when not to play. And that’s the important part.

The band has said, “Hopefully, one day we’ll share the stage with some of the best [jam bands].” Who do you consider the best out there now?

The Allman Brothers with Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks. They are unbelievable. Our sax player, Jerry DePizzo, got us into them. We have played the same festivals with them.

It’s cool that O.A.R. chooses to support a non-profit at every show. What charity are you supporting on this leg of the tour?

We are focusing on Miracle for Madison. She has a disease, SMS, and can’t use her muscles. The funds go for research. We’ve met her a couple times and right now, the researchers are ahead of the game. The iTunes sale of “Fool in the Rain” also goes to her fund.

You’re touring into September. What’s up after that?

We’re taking a short break, then a short tour. Then into the studio for our second Lava record.

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