JOHN MORE­LAND

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MUSIC -

the last few years and a lot of cool stuff com­ing out,” says More­land. “But I re­mem­ber 10, 15 years ago peo­ple were say­ing the same stuff about Ok­la­homa City, that it was gonna be the next Austin or what­ever. I think that’s dumb. Tulsa al­ways gonna be Tulsa. It’s never go­ing to be Nashville — be­cause Nashville has 80 years of in­dus­try that they’ve built on, and we don’t have that in­dus­try.”

Mu­si­cally, More­land has led a cou­ple of dis­tinct lives. He spent years play­ing in hard­core and metal bands be­fore latch­ing onto singer-song­writer Steve Earle. “Earle was the thing that led me into roots mu­sic at 19 or 20, but I still spent an­other five years play­ing in (rock) bands be­fore I put out my first solo record,” he says. In that gap, his in­spi­ra­tions changed. “I re­ally got into stuff like The Band, Randy New­man — I was try­ing to play gui­tar like a piano player, chords that you wouldn’t nor­mally hear on the gui­tar. I’ve al­ways wished I was a piano player. Since then, I’ve gone back to Steve Earle, Guy Clark — folk songs and folk song­writ­ing. That’s where I’ve turned around and where I feel like my songs are now.”

Al­though he’ll be play­ing Mem­phis on his own, More­land has been play­ing and tour­ing reg­u­larly with a band, and an ex­pan­sion of his sound seems a likely byprod­uct. “I’m con­sciously try­ing to write stuff for a band now, songs that are more group ori­ented,” he says. “The past cou­ple records there were songs with­out drums, but now I got a drum­mer I like, so I want to let him play. That’s had an im­pact on what I’m writ­ing.”

More­land’s been work­ing up his new ma­te­rial and record­ing in nearby Arkansas. “I’ve been track­ing live with a band, guys from Tulsa, at Fel­low­ship Hall Sound in Lit­tle Rock, with (en­gi­neer) Ja­son Wein­heimer. Then I’ve been tak­ing that and do­ing over­dubs at my house (in Tulsa).”

“There was no real plan — I was just see­ing what sticks. There’s a record start­ing to take shape. I’m go­ing to try and fin­ish it when I get back from tour.”

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