On Nov. 12 and 13, Orlando will host the first annual Orlando Calling music festival. The festival is like a mini-Lollapalooza, featuring a variety of great musical acts such as The Raconteurs, Kid Cudi and Pixies. One of the most anticipated acts however, is O.A.R., who consistently draws a huge crowd for its shows. I had the privilege of talking to Chris Culos, drummer of O.A.R., on the airwaves of 91.5 WPRK about its upcoming performance.
The band (whose full name is Of a Revolution) is currently promoting its seventh studio album, King, following up its hit 2008 album All Sides. Interestingly, King references the The Wanderer, O.A.R.’S first album that was recorded when its members were still in high school.
“Our first recording was based on and named after the short story Marc Roberge [lead vocals and rhythm guitar] wrote at 16 years old,” explained Culos. “We were all trying to figure out who we were. Now many of us are married and have kids, but we still feel very much the same when we were making music in my mom’s basement.” He says King is “reconnecting with that story, and it has come full circle.”
While the album feels nostalgia for the early days of O.A.R., it also sounds more daring and experimental compared to the band’s previous material. “Our audience wanted to see us do what we do in a live setting a little bit more,” Culos shared. “We wanted to make an album for ourselves and for the lifelong fans that have been there for a long time.”
Unlike most albums produced today, O.A.R. recorded all its instruments simultaneously. “We were willing to give up that perfection,” said Culos. This gives the album a more authentic sound and the listener can feel like he or she is at a live show and still get amazing sound quality.
The first single off King, “Heaven,” is doing well on the charts and has been shown on VH1. Despite its suggestive lyrics (“I don’t wanna go to Heaven if I can’t get it”), Culos claims it is just “about being comfortable with who you are.” The track follows a similar pattern to O.A.R.’s other songs in that the lyrics are intricate and tell a great story. “To be honest, as a drummer, I don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics,” Culos admitted. “Marc writes all the lyrics and does a great job of telling creative, detailed stories.”
Culos shared that Roberge improvises on stage all the time with the lyrics, just one reason why people love to attend their shows. They do not consider themselves a “jam band,” but embrace their reputation as a great live act. “The set list is always different, and you’re not going to get the same show twice,” he said. He calls “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker” the audience’s favorite song to play live. “Every night people go ballistic for that song and we love that. We always change the song a litt le each time we play.”
As the date nears for Orlando Calling, Culos says the whole band is “super excited” to perform. “The line-up looks amazing and we’re honored to be there,” he said. I definitely recommend attending O.A.R.’s performance on Saturday, Nov. 12, as the band will be playing songs from its new album together with old favorites.