No Volcano’s new album almost didn’t happen. The Phoenix quartet’s third album, Envy in the Valley, was missing a very important ingredient: a bassist.
Just as recording began, Jake Sevier suddenly quit the group. But the three remaining band members kept it together — unsurprising considering their lengthy resumes in Phoenix music. Guitarists Jim Andreas and Jeremy Randall, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Kennedy are esteemed veterans who’ve played with bands including Trunk Federation and Colorstore.
“There was a point where I was like, ‘This is not going to work,’” Andreas recalls. “It just seemed ill-fated … but I’m glad we didn’t [quit]. I’m really pleased with it now.”
They called on James Karnes from the duo Less Pain Forever to fill in where they were lacking. The musicians have known Karnes for years and played numerous shows together, but they were never in the same band, despite several attempts to put something together.
It’s impossible for Andreas, Kennedy, and Karnes not to reminisce about how they would run into each other at venues like The Mason Jar (now The Rebel Lounge).
“[Karnes] was the first person I called, even though he is not a bass player,” Andreas says. “He’s a great bass player now.”
Kennedy, who has recorded all of the band’s albums, says there weren’t any bass lines laid down when the band decided to press on in Sevier’s stead. So it was up to Karnes to come up with something for each song, working around and with the music that had already been arranged and recorded.
“[The situation] was difficult, but he came through,” Kennedy says of Karnes’ work.
Karnes stepping up to help fits right into No Volcano’s musical and work aesthetic. The quartet play the kind of rock ’n’ roll that musical pontificators claim fell off the face of the earth decades ago. But it’s never really gone away. The music moves you physically. It jingles and jangles like ’70s post-punk and ’90s alternative, with lyrics that aren’t condescending or pretentious.
Just as impressive as the band deftly overcoming personnel changes is the rate at which No Volcano release new material. They’ve dropped three full-length albums since 2016. Most major-label bands can take two or three years to come out with new material, and local musicians can take even longer, thanks to a lack of time, money and resources.
No Volcano work hard to balance everything that comes with making music. The band will celebrate Envy in the Valley’s release with a party at Valley Bar on Saturday, April 21.
Andreas didn’t think he could be this prolific when he was in Trunk Federation two decades ago. Kennedy praises his bandmate’s obsessiveness and tenacity for getting things done. But Andreas also believes that recording in-house and keeping the band’s show schedule down to a number you can count on one hand gives No Volcano the time to focus on doing what they really love: writing songs.
Andreas, who wrote the lyrics for the record, acknowledges the reflective theme running through the album. “Day in the Sun,” the second track on Envy in the Valley, includes the line “I know my time will come / I’ll have my day in the sun.”
For someone who has tasted success playing music, Andreas feels lucky to still be doing what he loves. And he won’t stop performing — or recording — any time soon.
No Volcano are scheduled to perform on Saturday, April 21, at Valley Bar. Tickets are $7.
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