O.A.R. frontman Marc Roberge feels practically like a local, despite hailing from the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
That’s because he spent his childhood summers in Margate, where his mother, an Atlantic City High School graduate, grew up and still has a house.
For Roberge, playing A.C. is always a bit of a homecoming, with plenty of family and friends in attendance.
“The first thing I’m thinking about is how windy it’s going to be on the beach,” says Roberge, who performs with the band 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, at Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. “I grew up down the shore. I spent tons of time down there. In the winter, it was a whole other beast. I’m excited to be there in the winter — I think people will be extra excited to have a good time.”
Known for its live shows — and liberal taping policy — O.A.R. launched in the late ’90s in Rockville, Md., as a high school band and then established itself on the indie circuit during the members’ subsequent stint at Ohio State University.
The alternative rock group, whose name is short for Of A Revolution, has gone on to release seven studio albums and five live records, generating hit singles such as “Hey Girl,” “This Town” and “Shattered (Turn the Car Around).”
O.A.R.’s latest single “Peace” will be featured on its forthcoming album, which is due out in June.
Ahead of the show, Roberge previews the band’s new music and proves himself a real diplomat when asked an all-important question: Which local sub shop is his favorite?
Q: O.A.R. has released several live records, but also encourages fans to tape its shows. Do you worry that one will cannibalize the other?
A: The fact that we do get to live out the dream is because people have traded our music online. If we’re going to stay true to what got us here in the first place, we have to make it easy for people to do.
Q: You tested out your new single “Peace” during your tour last summer. What it’s like to work out new material in front of an audience?
A: We tried out some other stuff that didn’t quite do the trick. It’s like market research 101. People weren’t into it. “Peace” instantly grabbed folks, because at the end of the day, we all want some calm. This isn’t a world-peace song — it’s a person-peace song.
The album is going to have an exciting version of it. If we can get a song like “Peace” on the radio, that would mean the world to a band like us. I feel comfortable promoting it — it was written straight from the heart.
Q: You’re one of the few veteran groups whose newer records are charting higher than your older ones did. Why do you think you’ve been able to boost your sales at this point in your career?
A: I think we’re lucky in that we have a fan base that’s very patient, very trusting and very supportive. They’ll give us the opportunity when the album comes out, then decide whether to buy it.
We’ve been lucky to have folks who will buy the thing, live with it a little bit and understand we do what we do because we’re a band. We’re going to try new things, just like they do in their lives. We try to keep an honesty. People might not like where we’re at, but they always give us a chance.
Q: Are you deliberately trying to mix things up musically on the new record?
A: There was never a point where I said, “I want to challenge my past or challenge my future or try to be different” for any reason than that’s what this song does. It’s a concept album about what happened in a place like Rockville, Md. Each song has its own life, but all live within one night (there).
Q: Now for the most difficult question: Are you a White House Sub Shop loyalist or do you have another favorite?
A: I’ll be going to Dino’s Sub Shop in Margate, but I must say the White House is really good. Over the years, I never really tried the White House — I refused. A few years ago, I tried it, and it was fantastic. I’m equal opportunity — Sacco’s, White House and Dino’s — it’s all good.
I grew up as a meatball sub expert. Then over the years I switched over to chicken parm and then tuna. Currently, I’m creating my own veggie sub. I haven’t found the right combo. Between each one of those places, I want to find out who can make the best veggie sub.