Earlier this week, local boys O.A.R. played a special intimate show at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Northeast. It was part of the Mix 107.3 Jingle Jam holiday party, a promotional station event. The only way you could get in was to win tickets or be lucky enough to purchase one of the 100 or so tickets that were released on sale (sold-out within minutes).
O.A.R. has risen to success in the past couple of years having sold 1.5 million albums, selling out Madison Square Garden twice, and having their current single "Shattered" land on the Top 40 charts and holding onto the spot as the #6 best selling iTunes rock song of 2008.
Before their recent show in D.C., NBCWashington.com caught up with lead guitarist Richard ON and drummer Chris Culos.
NBCWashington.com: So you recently released your new album titled "All Sides," which was your best debut so far in your career in terms of album sales. What did you do differently on this album compared to your last, "Stories of a Stranger?"
Richard: For this record, "All Sides," we did a lot of pre-production. I think that made the biggest difference in our performance on the record. And I think we had a lot more time for our song writing process. We were writing music on tour for probably about 2 years. I think the combination of those two things really prepared us and made for a great album.
NBCWashington.com: Your first single "Shattered" is getting good radio play across the country and is in heavy rotation on VH1. What was the inspiration behind that song?
Richard: That's pretty much a question for Mark, but I know he had this demo and brought it to the pre-production secession and when we gave it a listen ... it wasn't quite right where it was, but we worked on it and it sorta came to life. After a while, we definitely realized we had a single. From Mark's interpretation, the song was written about someone who is trying to stop blaming other people for things that were happening to them and I think it's something about fixing yourself before you try to fix everything else.
NBCWashington.com: Having formed in Rockville, Md. back in high school, do any of you still hang out in the area?
Chris: Pretty much all of us still have our roots here. Our parents still live here so we come back for holidays and when we come back, it's really exciting because we get the hometown crowd. It's extra special to play here. When we play on stage every night and look into the crowd, it's really funny because when we play D.C., we can pick people out of the crowd. Even if it's not your family or friends, we all know each others family ... we really are like one big extended family so that makes it a lot of fun. Behind the scene stuff is pretty interesting too ... we get everyone down and have big barbecues ... stuff like that its crazy. Richard still lives in the area.
Richard: Ya I do so I'm out and about. I still go out a lot in D.C. Visit my parents in Rockville.
NBCWashington.com: Where is your favorite place to play in the DC area?
Chris: Have to say the 9:30 Club for sure. Growing up we would go see all of our favorite bands there and one day I had hoped to be one of those bands. Now we have played there many times and it's such a great place to see a show. So much history, so many great bands have took the stage. The room itself has a life of its own and when we play there, it's just extra special. I also like playing at Merriweather, I can't lie. That big stage and the hometown crowd ... 10,000 people screaming back at you ... there's no bigger rush.
NBCWashington.com: Well you certainly could have filled a much larger venue. Why did you choose to play here tonight (Rock and Roll Hotel)?
Chris: It was a very thought-out process. I know our management looked at a bunch of different options. For us, playing somewhere like the 9:30 Club would have been cool, but we're trying to do something more special here ... the radio show, the lineup, it didn't make sense to do something at the 9:30 Club this time around. This place here is just a great indie kind of rock club.
Richard: I've been coming here to see my brother play when he was playing the local circuit and it's just a cool indie venue where we could play an acoustic show and be intimate and try to create something special.
NBCWashington.com: So both of you went to Ohio State ... I have to ask, being from Michigan myself, what do you think of the Wolverines/Buckeyes football rivalry?
Richard: Get out of here, this interview is over (as he laughs).
Chris: Michigan didn't have that good of a year. It's really fun to be part of something like that. In the big picture ,we're Big Ten fans so we have to root for Big Ten teams but our hearts are with Ohio State. There's something really special about that rivalry. You talk about he greatest rivalries out there, it's up there with them.
NBCWashington.com: What are your plans for 2009?
Chris: Wow, we have a lot of plans. We are starting off touring on the West Coast and making our way around the country. After that, shooting a video for our second single and then releasing it shortly. Then touring throughout the summer on a huge headlining tour, and going on this big cruise playing with John Mayer and Guster. Then we'll be going to Europe and possibly Australia. Also maybe do some more USO stuff. We'd love to get involved in that again and play for the troops overseas.
NBCWashington.com: Thanks guys and best of luck!
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