Ask any veteran of Oklahoma's punk or hardcore scene about his influences, and you'd likely be able to predict an answer or two ... unless that particular veteran is John Moreland.
"When I was little, my dad listened to John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, Neil Young and Waylon Jennings," Moreland said. "When I was 5 years old, I loved that stuff. Even when I was in really heavy bands, I was into Bruce Springsteen. I've always listened to stuff like this."
While it's unlikely The Boss would have frequented The Conservatory in his formative years, Moreland said The Black Gold Band is starting to enjoy its time in uncharted territory, although it hasn't always been so sweet. He admitted finding difficulties booking performances in venues more receptive to the band's predicted audience. The silver lining, then, is its diverse fan base — people whose exposure to the music has been a fluke.
"It was kind of hard. We just didn't know what we were supposed to do at first," Moreland said. "We didn't know if we should try to get shows with hardcore bands and play where we were comfortable. We tried to get shows at bars and stuff, like where bands like us would normally play, but we had a really hard time doing that. It's not like punk rock. You can't just go to a bar and say, 'Hey, give us a show.' It took us a while, but now we have a good medium between the two. A lot of people have liked us that really surprise me, that I thought were going to hate us."
That rings especially true in the last year, as the title track from "Endless Oklahoma Sky" — the act's debut record — was a top-10 finalist in the Oklahoma Historical Society's official state rock song competition. No paltry feat, as Moreland's song was pitted against the likes of Leon Russell, Elvis Presley and Three Dog Night, in addition to more contemporary, major-label acts.
"It's really weird, and it's really cool, but at the same time, we're not putting too much stock in it," Moreland said, laughing, "because we're not going to win."
That sort of frankness lends itself to the band's songs. Moreland said he sees the correlation between the Americana rock of his childhood and the punk rock of his adolescence.
"I got into punk rock because it's the same kind of quality in the songwriting," he said. "It's just straight-ahead, good songs with no gimmicks, where the words actually mean something."
He and the band are currently working on the follow-up to "Endless Oklahoma Sky" with Stephen Egerton (of influential punk bands ALL and The Descendents) at Tulsa's Armstrong Recording. Moreland said the recording is going well, although the group has no cemented release date as of yet.
"It depends on when it gets finished," Moreland said, "and it's up to how much money we have, I guess." —Becky Carman