When the name Ohio State gets tagged onto any joke here in Ann
Arbor, the chances are slim that the punchline is going to be in
favor of the Buckeyes. How many Ohio State undergrads does it take
to screw in a light bulb? None — that’s a graduate
course. However, Ohio State graduate Jerry DePizzo, saxophonist for
O.A.R, was able to set aside his opinions on football prowess long
enough to talk with the Daily about how he and the four other Ohio
State alums who make up O.A.R. have built a career as a band that
has become anything but the butt of a joke.

Laura Wong
Laura Wong
We are not Linkin Park. (Courtesy of Lava)

After a high school study-abroad semester in Israel, Marc
Roberge (singer, lyricist) and Chris Culos (drums) traveled back to
the United States and ended up in Columbus, where their
transatlantic experiences became the foundation for the dynamics of
the band. “It’s a pretty lofty name, especially when
you’re 14 or 15 years old, and basically when you’re 25
you’re just trying to live up to it,” said DePizzo.
With the majority of their fan base between 16 and 24 and the large
amount of sell-out performances thus far, it is obvious that the
idealistic essence of their name has been readily accepted.

Most bands might find difficulty in ascribing to such a fixed
audience because of limitations that it proposes to the
band’s progress, but DePizzo expressed a much more receptive
attitude. “I think it’s a really cool thing that we
draw the age group or demographic of people that we draw because
that’s the time of you life when music really means something
to you. You really take it personally and it becomes a part of your
life.”

Addressing the high aspirations that cling to the average
college student, DePizzo found it most appropriate that because of
the laid-back, carefree attitude that pervades a majority of O.A.R.
songs, students find their music appealing. “I take it as a
really great compliment that people come out and support our shows
at that age,” he said. “You see that you really mean
something to them.”

Those who have seen them live understand how O.A.R. has become a
prominent figure on the jam band scene. Their high-energy
performances are loaded with improvisational jams and sing-alongs
highlight this band’s repertoire. “Through college, or,
to be honest, since ’98 we’ve been touring every
weekend. We just keep hammering away at it until people come to the
shows, and it’s because of the live shows that we’ve
really built up a fan base.”

Now, after signing with a major record label and releasing their
fifth album only six months ago, DePizzo commented on the
band’s past stratagem and future hopes. “It’s a
little bit of luck and basically taking that fortune and being very
smart about our decisions and working hard and realizing that you
have a great opportunity and not letting it go to waste. Like you
look at a band like U2 who’s been relevant for . . . some 20
years in pop culture. At some point you kind of want to enjoy that
kind of success.”

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