O.A.R. Debuts 'Free' and 'California' From Upcoming 'The Mighty' Album: Premiere

Zoe Rain


After spending a solid year working on its new album, The Mighty -- due out March 29 -- O.A.R. is hyped to get the music out into the world, including a pair of new songs, "California" and "Free," premiering exclusively below.

"You can't call it The Mighty and not have it be great," frontman Marc Roberge tells Billboard, which is one of the reasons the group spent so long working on the 10-song set, which was co-produced by Gregg Wattenberg and PomPom (Kellen Pomeranz). "To do that you have to take your time, and we had the benefit of bobbing and weaving in and out of the studio between tours and reflecting on song ideas and on chances we wanted to take without having to rush. I think that let us accomplish everything we wanted to."

O.A.R. gave fans a taste of The Mighty -- whose title was inspired by a Richie Sambora introduction of the band before a Red Rocks Amphitheatre concert in 2017 -- via the single "Miss You All the Time" last year. Roberge says the full album will have plenty of the group's familiar flavor on tracks such as "Nantucket Is Gone," "Be Easy" and "Are You For Real" -- which he refers to as "homemade O.A.R. soundcheck songs" -- along with new arrangement and sonic ideas courtesy of Pom-Pom.

"It was interesting to listen to someone's idea regarding the sound of your band -- with no words, no, 'Hey, this is what you should do' or 'Hey, check this out...'" Roberge notes. "She would just do things to (the songs) and every time I heard something she was making I said, 'Yeah, that's exactly where I want this thing to go.' We took a lot of chances, and it was nice to have confidence in somebody -- we always do, but this is someone new, young and pretty cool. I can definitely hear someone else's creative vibe coming through the albums."

The melodic and reggae-laced "California" -- which celebrates free-thinking and encourages chance-taking inspired by Roberge's brother-in-law -- is a case in point. "I didn't even know it was a song," Roberge recalls. "I had the idea and walked into the studio and played something and sang it. I didn't even know the microphone was on. We left and went on tour and when we came back Pom-Pom said, 'Check this is out,' and it's what I had played in that room with some music around it and some thoughts, and it was perfect. It feels like a real teamwork song."

"Free," meanwhile, mines a similar topic. "You're out there waiting on these crazy, amazing things to drop into your world, and at some point you learn you realize life is work and you have to earn it," Roberge explains. And while there are plenty of new sonic elements at play, Roberge credits O.A.R. drummer Chris Culos with grounding the songs in a familiar pocket. "Without our drummer, this band does not exist," Roberge says. "Chris would come up from Nashville for four days and play through all the songs and put his foot on the pedal, and that brought O.A.R. to these songs. It's the heartbeat of what we do."

Roberge has been playing some solo dates during February, while O.A.R. is gearing up for a summer tour with American Authors and Huntertones that begins June 5 in Hampton, N.H. and currently runs into early September, with more secondary markets on tap for fall. Roberge predicts that O.A.R. will be playing every song from The Mighty in shows, but not necessarily as an entire piece. "We’re out there to play songs people know, first and foremost, songs that bring back memories," he says. "But we really want to get out there and do these (new) things and not hold any back, and I think people will see they fit well."

The track list for The Mighty includes:

Knocking At Your Door
Miss You All the Time
Oh My!
Turn It Up Slow
All Because of You
Be Easy
Are You For Real
Nantucket Is Gone

The Mighty O.A.R. 2019 Summer Tour Dates w/ special guest American Authors Presented By SiriusXM The Pulse

June 5       Hampton Beach, NH @ Hampton Beach Ballroom 

June 6       Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center 

June 7       Boston, MA @ Rockland Trust Pavilion 

June 9       Philadelphia, PA @ The Met Philadelphia 

June 11     New York, NY @ TBA 

June 12     Raleigh, NC @ Red Hat Amphitheatre 

June 14     Atlanta, GA @ Atlanta Botanical Garden 

June 15     St Augustine, FL @ St Augustine Amphitheatre 

June 16     Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues Orlando 

June 18     Boca Raton, FL @ Mizner Park Amphitheatre 

June 19     St Petersburg, FL @ Mahaffey Theater 

June 20     Charlotte, NC @ Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre 

June 22     Huber Heights, OH @ Rose Music Center at The Heights 

June 25     Cleveland, OH @ Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica 

June 27     Flint, MI @ The Capitol Theatre 

July 30     Indianapolis, IN @ Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park 

Aug 1       Duluth, MN @ Bayfront Festival Park 

Aug 2       Prior Lake, MN @ Mystic Lake 

Aug 3       Council Bluffs, IA @ Harrah’s Council Bluffs Hotel & Casino 

Aug 4       Kansas City, MO @ CrossroadsKC 

Aug 6       Oklahoma City, OK @ The Jones Assembly 

Aug 8       Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre 

Aug 9       Salt Lake City, UT @ Red Butte Garden

Aug 10     Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory Concert House 

Aug 13     Spokane, WA @ INB Performing Arts Center 

Aug 14     Seattle, WA @ The Moore Theatre 

Aug 16     Jacksonville, OR @ Britt Festival Pavilion 

Aug 17     Saratoga, CA @ Mountain Winery 

Aug 18     Costa Mesa, CA @ Pacific Amphitheatre 

Aug 19     San Diego, CA @ Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay 

Aug 20     Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues 

Aug 23     Irving, TX @ The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory 

Aug 24     Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheatre 

Aug 25     Houston, TX @ House of Blues Houston 

Aug 28     New Orleans, LA @ Joy Theater 

Aug 30     Ravinia Festival @ Highland Park, IL 

Sept 7       Columbia, MD @ TBA