That's what they tell us growing up. But when good bands experience change, it can be a catalyst for something special or the beginning of the end. No Volcano have faced a significant amount of change over the last several years. With the release of the Phoenix band of music veterans' new album, Rubber Dagger, change is definitely in the air.
Over the past few years, original bassist Jake Sevier and guitarist Jeremy Randall have departed No Volcano. Now the band is left with only two original members, singer/guitarist Jim Andreas and drummer Christopher Kennedy. Sevier was replaced by James Karnes (Les Payne Forever) just before 2018's release of Envy in the Valley. Then, Randall decided he was leaving the band late last year.
"I feel really grateful. Jake and Jeremy were fucking awesome. They are very hard shoes to fill, but I think we've kept the same feel with new players. It's just sort of falling into place," says Andreas.
Newest member William (Bill) Goethe is a fantastically good and underrated guitar player. Old scenesters will remember him playing rhythm guitar with the northwest Valley band Response (who later became Chatterbox in the early '90s) until they disbanded. More recently, Goethe did studio work for a few local and national punk rock bands and developed a taste for playing again. No Volcano are a nice fit for the longtime Phoenix fireman.
“It was so easy. It was just a visceral thing. I got the skeleton stuff for a few songs, but I put my DNA stamp on things. Everyone was just flexible. It’s just been awesome,” says Goethe.
“It was a lot of work for him," says Andreas. "Bill had a lot of catch up work to do, and he is the hardest worker I have been in a band with. It is so refreshing, and it made the process (of making Rubber Dagger) really fun.”
The guitar sound on the new record is a departure from their previous output. Some of this is related to Goethe’s differing style, but it is also due to Kennedy’s change in outlook on how to record and mix the guitar. In addition to being one of Phoenix’s best drummers, Kennedy has been at the recording helm for each of No Volcano's releases, and the amount of time and effort he has put in over the past decade show a lot of improvement.
“I had to mix Bill much differently than I mixed Jeremy. Bill plays differently. He’s got a different tone, a different sound, a different style. We also have more backing vocals. James comes up with a lot of things to add to what Jim brings,” says Kennedy.
Like an actual rubber dagger, this record is safe to play with at any time (even though a rare F-bomb drops on the killer fourth track, “Mover”). The songs are shorter on Rubber Dagger than previous outings, but Andreas’ keen ear and stealthily awesome pen continue to convey great lyrics. On one song, “Golden,” Andreas is joined by Lonna Kelley (Giant Sand, Cherie Cherie) on what is one of the better under two-minute duets in recent local history. Kelley and Andreas formed a mutual admiration society recently that resulted in the collaboration.
“Lonna (Kelley) came to one of our last shows, and we talked about collaborating on a project she had going," says Andreas. "I really admire her work and wanted her to do a song with us. We’ve got to the point now where she’s done a video with us, and she’s hoping to do the release show with us. We’ve never had anyone do this with us before. I love her part, and I’m really happy with the way it came out."
No Volcano are scheduled to perform on Saturday, November 30, at Valley Bar. Tickets available via Eventbrite.
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Tom Reardon has written for Phoenix New Times since 2013. He's been in several notable bands over the last 25 years including Hillbilly Devilspeak, North Side Kings, and the Father Figures.