In case you haven’t noticed, the rock ’n’ roll saxophonist is an endangered species. That’s why O.A.R. sax player and Liberty Township native Jerry DePizzo is still in mourning regarding the recent passing of E Street sax-man Clarence Clemons.
“God rest his soul,” said DePizzo, calling from Kansas City. “For a guy like me, he wrote the book on what I do. I try every day to emulate him and be that guy. He could kill you with one note.”
For over a decade, DePizzo and his band mates in Columbus-based O.A.R. have eternally searched for such a note. Lately, the jam-band lite act, which plays its own style of island vibe roots rock, found an unlikely inspiration when it came time to write their most recently released album “King.”
“The record we really love is [The Beastie Boys’] ‘Paul’s Boutique,’ and how it shucks and jives and turns corners and was this crazy cocktail of different sounds and elements,” DePizzo said. “I guess that influenced our new album heavily. So we put intros on it, interludes, we put songs that are three-minutes long, songs that are seven minutes long. Whatever came out, came out, and we have our most eclectic record to date.”
New tracks that define “King” in DePizzo’s mind include the title track, which acts as a two-and-a-half minute introduction to the record, as well as the various interludes that were either created in soundchecks or were unfinished songs that fit a role. From a thematic standpoint, the new CD harkens back to a short story written by frontman Marc Roberge. Diehard fans know the band’s 1997 debut “The Wanderer” takes elements of this short story.
For “King,” the titular character returns home after taking a long journey of self-discovery. He’s back and ready to take hold of his own destiny. In many ways, this parallels how the members of O.A.R. are feeling these days having left the major label world for an independent existence. The result was creatively liberating for the band.
“I think we made our most diverse record to date,” DePizzo said. “People who have been with us for a very long time are going to hear the island, rootsy element in a lot of the material and be happy with that. And people who know us from radio and more of the pop side of what we do, certainly they’ll be pleased with what they hear on this record. There’s a lot of in between stuff.”
“King” marks O.A.R.’s first studio recording since 2008’s “All Sides.” Already lead single, “Heaven” is climbing the charts and receiving a positive reception from audiences on the band’s summer amphitheater tour, which plays Friday at Cleveland’s Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. However, considering the hot temperatures hitting the Midwest here in the dog days, DePizzo said the apropos song title would have been “Hell.”