Van go

Folk-rock flock The Ragbirds preach the same green message as many touring bands, but has taken it a step further by converting its touring van to run on recycled vegetable oil.

Accordingly, look out, metro restaurants, because The Ragbirds might come a-knockin’ while in town for two concerts in Oklahoma City and Norman.

“Every couple of days, we’ll go hunting for grease,” vocalist Erin Zindle said.

“It’s a little extra work than just pulling up to a gas station, but we think it’s worth it.”

The van has become an integral piece of The Ragbirds’ existence, even in their new album, “Travelin’ Machine,” released on New Year’s Day.

“Most of the songs were written on the road. There’s a real, live energy in these songs. All the songs carry that feel ing of movement, adventure and exploration,” Zindle said. “Our van is a character in this band. Her name is Cecilia.”

The title and theme also are indicative of the group’s distinctive, worldly take on folk rock, borrowing heavily from Celtic, gypsy, Latin, African and Middle Eastern sounds.

“I just loved the experience of letting the music transport me where I couldn’t go physically in real life,” said Zindle, who was initially inspired by Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel’s world-fusion pop of the ’80s. “There’s a lot of history, and I felt really connected and opened up by that wider connection to the world.”

Finding a way to combine a globe’s worth of influence into a single record took time to determine, but “Travelin’ Machine” — the band’s fifth studio album since 2005 — finds the blend sounding better than ever. With luck, it will be the one that takes Cecilia even farther on the road.

“It didn’t come together quickly, but I do feel like it comes together naturally. It’s just been a lot of years of listening to and absorbing all these different sounds and finding a way to place that into our music,” Zindle said. “I’ve tried to not force or guide even too strongly in one direction. The songs seem to give clues where they want to go along the way, and sometimes, that’s a lot of different places.”

Joshua Boydston

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