By Nicki Escudero
By Amy Silverman
By Brian Palmer
By Chris Parker
By Troy Farah
By Lauren Wise
By Lauren Wise
While rabid believers helped spread the O.A.R., the band itself was savvy enough to embrace new technology. It started a message board, on which DePizzo, more than the others, frequently posts dispatches from the road. The group's Web site (www.ofarevolution.com) is a busy, deftly animated affair with darting sections, robotically scrolling text windows and the usuals -- songs, lyrics and links to fan sites. It took the cue from Net denizens and fostered the community.
"It's a scary thing for the record industry," says a thoughtful DePizzo. "They have absolutely no control over [Internet distribution]. The initial reaction is, Holy shit, they're stealing our music.' Then you think about it two seconds later, and you say, They want to hear our music,' and then you see how it translates into people coming to our shows."
The band's management also aggressively pursues more traditional street-level strategies, a process that's even hooked its claws into the Phoenix area. Mike Ferraro, a 17-year-old senior at Brophy College Preparatory, belongs to a 150-member network of fans called the "Street Team," centrally managed by Everfine.
"A year ago, if you said, Do you want to go to the O.A.R. show?', they were less known," Ferraro says. "Now, they're really starting to turn heads."
Ferraro helps pass out flyers and posters and pitches the band's virtues to record buyers, coffee shop patrons, and attendees of Arizona State University football and basketball games. As part of the push for the band's November 2 appearance at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe, Ferraro will also help distribute a four-song CD sampler through the Valley.
"We're trying to find high-traffic areas where we think people who go there might like the band," Ferraro says.
Not a bad deal for a band that rarely traveled four hours outside of Columbus until 18 months ago.
"We came about at the right time and at the right place," DePizzo says. "I never wanted to do anything else. Going to school was a way to be in a band. We were a band and knew we were going to continue on as a band."
What DePizzo, Roberge and the others never counted on was that cultural changes would allow them, for all intents and purposes, to major in the band. Some students become entry-level grunts for Fortune 500 companies. O.A.R. stepped out of the dorms and into a van-traveling life as a virtual O.A.R., Inc. No more on-the-road homework, no more finals, no more sleepless streaks. John Mayer, a friend of O.A.R. and folky peer who toured with the band last year, has since erupted into the mainstream limelight, enjoying much of the same high-tech push. The momentum behind O.A.R. makes its own eruption seem inevitable, something for the band and its faithful alike to ponder.
"The thing that makes it so great is that they just love the music," says Ferraro of the band. "They want to do their best to spread the music around to other people so they can enjoy it I don't think people would mind the band being so popular."