After celebrating its 20th anniversary, O.A.R. is ready to begin another era this year with the release of a new album, tentatively titled The Mighty, and the feel-good single “Just Like Paradise” that’s premiering exclusively below.
“Once you celebrate a milestone like that, the only thing on the other side of that is a new beginning,” frontman Marc Roberge tells Billboard. “You can’t go and say, ‘Guess what — it’s our 21st year, or our 22nd.’ We really have so many things to look forward to, and this is a great way to do it.” And that’s exactly what the reggae-flavored “Just Like Paradise” is about, according to Roberge.
“It’s a song about new beginnings,” he explains, “all about everyone talking about how we need summer to show up a little bit earlier this year, how we need a fresh start. That’s what the song represents, a brand new outlook to the day, a brand new start.” And Roberge doesn’t mind if that is extrapolated to make a commentary about the current world political climate.
“How can you escape it?” Roberge says. “I don’t care where you live or what your allegiances are, you can’t be not affected by what’s going on not only in our country but what’s going on globally and the connectivity and how that’s affecting the messages. If you’re not affected by that, that’s impressive. But I sure am, my family is, my kids are. Now more than ever we need some sort of brightness to look forward to and drown out the rest of that noise.”
Roberge says O.A.R.’s album “definitely has a brightness to it,” with about half the songs sporting “a major, positive glow” and the other half “country-based rock n’ roll songs” — interestingly similar to the mix O.A.R.’s been doing since it began recording back in 1997. “This whole brand new look feels a lot like how we started out 20 years ago,” he says. “There’s an island vibe that kept us happy combined with story songs structured around characters that keep us guessing. That’s kind of where the album’s going.” O.A.R. currently has two songs finished, according to Roberge with “a third one around the corner and five or six waiting to be worked on. I think once we’re on the road we’ll have a new album to talk about.”
The summer Just Like Paradise Tour, with Matt Nathanson opening, begins July 24, with general public tickets on sale Feb. 16 and a pre-sale running Feb. 13-15; Details can be found at www.ofarevolution.liveoar.com. After touring with Train last summer, Roberge says O.A.R. is looking forward to headlining once again.
“We did an abridged set last year, so this year it’s an unabridged set,” he promises. “We’ll be digging through the catalog, playing brand new songs selectively, focusing on the fan base and what they want to hear and what’s going to move the crowd. We came up by moving the crowd. That’s what we believe in.” O.A.R. also plans to have “a lot of friends come in over the course of the tour” to join the band.
Some of those pals — including Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz, Nate Ruess, Robert Randolph, Matt Nathanason, Stephen Kellogg, Daryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels and more — will be part of the O.A.R. & Friends concert March 23 at New York’s Beacon Theatre to support the Garden of Dreams Foundation. O.A.R. is also taking part in the March 7 Led Zeppelin tribute at Carnegie Hall, where Roberge may also sing with some of the other acts.
O.A.R. Just Like Paradise Tour
w/ special guest, Matt Nathanson
July 24 Kettering, OH @ Fraze Pavilion for the Performing Arts
July 25 Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium *
July 27 Irving, TX @ The Pavilion @ Toyota Music Factory
July 28 Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheatre
July 29 Houston, TX @ House of Blues
Aug 1 Atlanta, GA @ Coca Cola Roxy
Aug 2 Clearwater, FL @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
Aug 3 Pompano Beach, FL @ Pompano Beach Amphitheatre
Aug 4 Orlando, FL @ House of Blues
Aug 5 Jacksonville, FL @ Daily’s Place
Aug 7 Charlotte, NC @ Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre
Aug 8 Raleigh, NC @ Red Hat Amphitheatre
Aug 10 & 11 Charles Town, WV @ Hollywood Casino – The Event Center **
Aug 13 New York, NY @ SummerStage, Central Park
Aug 14 Boston, MA @ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
Aug 16 Hampton Beach, NH @ Hampton Beach Ballroom
Aug 17 East Providence, RI @ Bold Point Park
Aug 18 Middletown, PA @ Vineyards @ Hershey
Aug 19 Bethel, NY @ Bethel Center for the Arts
Aug 21 Philadelphia, PA @ Festival Pier
Aug 22 Lewiston, NY @ Artpark
Aug 23 Cleveland, OH @ Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
Aug 24 Toledo, OH @ TBA
Aug 26 Grand Rapids, MI @ Meijer Gardens (on sale TBD)
Aug 28 Indianapolis, IN @ Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park
Aug 31 Council Bluffs, IA @ Stir Concert Cove
Sept 1 Moorhead, MN @ Bluestem Center for the Arts
Sept 2 Chicago, IL @ TBA
Sept 7 Minneapolis, MN @ Mystic Lake Amphitheatre
Sept 8 Kansas City, MO @ Starlight Theater
Sept 9 Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Sept 10 Salt Lake City, UT @ TBA
Sept 13 Valley Center, CA @ Harrah’s Resort SoCal
Sept 14 Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
Sept 15 Saratoga, CA @ TBA
Sept 16 Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
Sept 18 Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
* Tickets for this show go on sale February 23
**Matt Nathanson will not be supporting on these dates