Maryland band O.A.R. has been around for over a decade, playing hundreds and hundreds of shows to their rabid fanbase. Although the band is mostly known for their live performances, they go into the studio every few years and make an album, the most recent of which, All Sides, hit stores in mid-July. Saxophonist/guitarist Jerry DePizzo discusses the process of making that record, how it differs from past O.A.R. albums, and how it has become part of their infamous live show.
When did you start working on your new album?
We started writing that in July of 2006. We had finished the last record on something like July 8 or July 9. Mark started bringing stuff to the table like three or four days later. I was under the mindset of, ‘We just got out of labor man! Maybe we wanna wait a minute before we get back in it!’ But he was really passionate and inspired and the rest of us followed suit. We got a good jump on this record and I think it paid off.
How long were you actually writing?
It depends. We write in groups. Very rarely does the whole band sit down and write a song. That usually occurs at soundcheck. Something we do at soundcheck will spur someone to go off and write something in a locked room and come back with it later. That’s usually the way we do things.
How do you balance the ideas of some many band members when writing?
It’s hard to have five opinions at once. It’s usually nice to have one main idea to have some structure to go off of. That’s usually what happens. There will be one idea and we’ll work on it as a group and some faction of the band will go off and work on it.
At what point did you decide you had enough for a new record?
We went in with the mindset of not rushing it. We were very fortunate because our label and A&R guy said, ‘Just go make a record. We’re not banging down the door for the record. Go make the right record instead of a record.’ That was the mindset going into it. And that’s what we did.
We’d write a batch of tunes, share them with everybody, then write another batch and share those. If we wrote five maybe we’d pick three. There was a lot of trimming the fat and going back to the drawing table. We had a lot of steps in the process in making our record this time around. It certainly paid off because as soon as we got into the studio to hit record we were performing these songs. We weren’t trying to get a good take or just get it done. It was more about whether it felt the best. It was a good feeling.
Usually O.A.R. records, at least for me, are really painful to make. We’re in the studio and we’re trying to figure out who we are and what we need to sound like. This time we didn’t have a lot of that. It was, ‘Let’s just go in and play.’