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Four young-but-committed musicians assemble a psychedelic Action! plan



The four men of Norman psychedelic rock outfit Action! are just babies, relatively speaking.


Each piece of the quartet " Zach Nedbalek, Ben Murdaugh, Travis Pierce and Geo Morgan " is only 20 years old. Do not, however, let Action!'s infancy serve as deterrence; those baby faces belie a collective experience and drive unmatched by most of the group's local brethren.

Indeed, these aren't just guys who thought it might be cool to be in a band, although that's certainly part of the picture. These are the high school jazz-banders " students of style and theory, competent and prolific musicians, and, maybe most importantly, proponents of experimentation.

"We are young," Nedbalek said. "We maintain overactive imaginations."

Culled from several under-the-radar Norman acts " including Nedbalek's The Samurai Conquistadors and Murdaugh's Rank Wesghetti " Action! is a definitive step forward for its members.

"Action! is different from anything we've done previously, because it unites and borrows from everything we've ever played before," Nedbalek said. "We are finally all on the same page creatively, we work very well together, and we've put more effort into this project than just about anything else we've ever undertaken. The result is something familiar, but entirely original. It's a nice blend of organic and electronic sounds " a little bit of everything you've ever heard, all at once."

Experience, coupled with a lot of free time " Nedbalek studies music production at the University of Central Oklahoma's Academy of Contemporary Music; the rest of the guys are "on break" and working part-time " means Action! gets the devotion that many fledgling acts never receive.

"We devote as much of our time as possible to making music," Nedbalek said, a fact evidenced by the amount of music the band produces.

Although the group formed only a year ago, Action! is currently celebrating its second album release. Its first was completed in July, just prior to the band's second-ever show.

"We write something new just about every time we play together, and we have since day one," Nedbalek said. "We try to keep a recording of everything we play, so we have a nearly infinite list of jams at the ready, waiting to be structured into full songs. Every show we play features at least one new song. We have a pretty decent collection of gear, and we produce our own albums; thus, the relatively swift release of a second disc."

On Friday, Action! will celebrate the release of the new, currently untitled disc at Opolis. Also slated are Norman indie-folk artist John Calvin and The Red Alert, a Tulsa band whose members were actual children when they started playing.

Nedbalek said Action!'s momentum doesn't allow for too much self-congratulation.

"Every time we write a song, we get better at writing songs, so we pretty much never stop," he said. "There is an element of spontaneity that gives our music personality. We'll have a third release out before the next summer."

It seems safe to predict this fervency is here to stay. The benefit of youthful energy notwithstanding, Action!'s members have been a part of music since childhood and will continue to do so for years to come. In fact, there are big, if vague, plans on the horizon.

"I would love to play professionally, but the local music scene has and will always be a big influence, regardless of where I am in my career," Nedbalek said. "We have a drive to create music together, and the healthiest way to experience that is with a group mentality rather than one of competition. Playing in bands and recording music are my favorite things to do on this planet, and any success I could have in a band or as a producer would only be used to elevate the rest of our community and friends."

Action! with Red Alert and John Calvin perform at 9 p.m. Friday at Opolis, 113 N. Crawford in Norman. "Becky Carman

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