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'Now' Is the Time for O.A.R.'S Label Jump

As an independent band that manages to sell more than 300,000 copies of your self-released albums, signing with a major label might seem like the most logical move to the next level.

But O.A.R. bassist Benj Gersham tells Billboard.com the Maryland-bred, Ohio State University-brewed group’s decision to ink with Lava/Atlantic was anything but simple.

“We had been going over the decision for at least two years before we finally made it, because we wanted to do it when the time was right,” says Gersham. “And all of those numbers are great but we didn’t do it because of that. We did it because it felt like the right move. We would love this to be a career, but it isn’t a career yet. We have only been doing it for a few years but in the scope of the time we’ve been doing it, it felt like the right move in the growth process.”

The result is the album “In Between Now and Then,” released yesterday (May 27) as a collaboration between Lava and O.A.R.’s own label, Everfine. While excited to have all of the luxuries of major label status – more studio time, a bigger promotional budget, extensive distribution channels – the quintet focused on maintaining its distinct, self-proclaimed “island vibe roots rock” sound.

In a move that will assure diehard fans that the group has not lost its integrity, O.A.R. will lead the second-annual Feeling Better Than Everfine Festival, which takes place June 28 at Cleveland’s Tower City Amphitheater. The all-day affair features 12 diverse acts – including Washington, D.C.’s the Lost Trailers, Los Angeles’ Maroon 5 and Pseudopod, Louisiana’s Marc Broussard, and Cincinnati’s Oval Opus – from around the country with similar backgrounds.

“It is a full day of music,” says Gersham. “Everfine is trying to put together something that could be a good look at the music that is out there right now from the independent scene and things that are kind of breaking into the major label scene.”

O.A.R.’s touring schedule also includes festival appearances (Bonnaroo, Summerfest, the 10,000 Lakes Festival), an opening spot on 311’s summer tour, and appearances later this summer on the Sprite Liquid Mix Tour with the Roots and N*E*R*D. “We just have a lot of great things coming up that we are all really excited about,” Gersham says. “There are so many great shows ahead of us.”

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