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The gap



Credit: Nathan Poppe

Although less than two years old, the Oklahoma City Southern folk act Black Canyon already is a whole new beast.

“Black Canyon has changed a lot over the past six months,” front man and founding member Jake Morisse said. “Things are getting a lot louder.”

There’s a fairly simple explanation:

Founding member Jordan Herrera departed last year, leaving Morisse to find new players, which he has in Riley Jantzen (ex-Mayola), Tyler Hopkins (The Nghiems) and Kurt Freudenberger (The Pretty Black Chains). As Morisse tells it, loud and vicious is what these guys wanted the group’s core to be.

“I’m a punk-rock kid,” he said.

“That’s what we all are.”

It’s never more apparent than a Black Canyon live show — a communal experience that demands the crowd participation of a Southern revival. The quartet considers you a fifth member, there to stomp, clap and holler.

“I can’t fucking stand just standing around and being too cool for everyone else. How long can you stand with your arms straight down at your side?” Morisse said. “That’s not Oklahoma. We’re a passionate state, obviously.”

Passion carried through to the band’s new record, born out of a trying period for Morisse.

“With this one, I came to a point where I was dealing with a lot of stuff,” he said. “I was figuring out a job, trying to sort out my life. Drinking had gotten heavier than it normally had been, and that scared me. So I started writing songs.”

Black Canyon’s debut, last summer’s Battlefield Darlings, was a concept album, creating a narrative of lovers torn apart by the Civil War. The new one is almost purely biographical. It sacrifices fiction for no-holds-barred, unadulterated, sometimes-brutally honest truth, and there’s nothing more punk rock than that.

“I didn’t want any bullshit. I wanted this to be as honest as possible. It’s about me being drunk a lot, having trouble with women and being depressed by the thought my mother might like my brother better because he’s religious and I’m not,” Morisse said. “It’s stuff I don’t want to talk about at the end of the day with people. It’s not good bar conversation.”

Hey! Read This:
• Black Canyon SXSW live review  
• Jake Morisse interview 
The Nghiems interview   
The Pretty Black Chains' Awakening CD review  
The Pretty Black Chains interview   
Riley Jantzen and the Spirits' Feathers CD review     

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