The Cynic caught up with O.A.R. band member and saxophonist Jerry DePizzo to talk with him about their sixth album, forming a band in college and his biggest nonmusical influences, his family.
They are slated to play Burlington this Wednesday at Memorial Auditorium.
The Cynic: What’s your take on starting as a band at the university level, and how do you feel that people can grow as musicians starting together at this level?
Jerry: What I understand now is that music is probably most important in your life when you are coming out of high school and starting college. I think it’s a time when you are really open to new ideas and exposed to different things. There is pressure to be artistic and creative – you are really bombarded with new influences – you’re not really sure what to do with it all yet. In terms of our band, we were fortunate that we got together and we wanted the same things. We knew what we wanted and we knew how to get it, and that was to go out and give as many shows as we could and stay out on the road as long as possible.
Cynic: You joined the band during college at Ohio State even though the rest of the band met up in high school; how did it feel to become the fifth member of the band?
Jerry: I think I have an interesting perspective because I was really a fan and friend of the band before I was actually in the band. I loved the atmosphere, the music and the performances. I know how it feels to see both sides of things because I was once in front of the stage and now I’m up on it.
Cynic: How did you begin as an artist, and how did your passion for music evolve?
Jerry: My uncle played guitar and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. At school I had an opportunity to be in the school band. I went in on the first day of school and asked to play the drums. The band director told me that there were already twelve drummers in a class of thirty students. I asked my mom for a trumpet and she said she wouldn’t buy it. But she said my uncle had a saxophone, so I began saxophone. I am fortunate to finally be playing in a band for a living. I’ve always been the same way – I’ve always been drawn to music, everything else in my life has taken a backseat to it, for better or for worse.
Cynic: To what extent do some of the lyrics in your newest album relate to some of your own experiences as an artist and a person?
Jerry: They completely relate. I think the key to our formula is to have people come to our shows and have a good time. All people can connect with the songs and lyrics and find something about the song that is meaningful to them. Mark just has a way of telling about life experiences that relate to people. One song is about a time we spent playing in Iraq. Otherwise, there are pieces of me in every song, but especially “One Day” and “Shattered,” to name a couple.
Cynic: What plans do you have for the future in developing new music?
Jerry: The goal at the end of the day is to make each record better than the last one and each show better than the last – just to get better and progress.
Cynic: What are your non-musical influences?
Jerry: My family – my wife and my kids. They influence everything I do.
Interview by Henry T. Barnes