Entry Level

O.A.R. went from school at OSU to touring the U.S.A.

The band's management also aggressively pursues more traditional street-level strategies. Mike Ferraro, a 17-year-old Phoenix high school student, belongs to a 150-member network of fans called the "Street Team." "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 fliers and posters, and pitches the band's virtues to record buyers, coffee-shop patrons and attendees of football and basketball games at nearby Arizona State University. "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 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," Ferraro says 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."

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