It's 2014 and high time you got some new music into your playlist -- seriously. And that's doubly true when it comes local music, of which there's an abundance in metro Phoenix. The Valley's music scene is gifted with burgeoning bands and emerging artists who will be making waves and getting attention this year.
Up on the Sun is highlighting more than a dozen such acts for our series 14 Bands You Need to Hear in 2014. Today, writer Tom Reardon chronicles the latest project by a few local music scene stalwarts.
You've heard the tale before, gentle music fan. Phoenix scene vets make good, and to top it off, they are all very nice. Amiable, really, and appreciative of the fantastic music that is happening in town right now. No Volcano is a mere eight months old, but don't let the band's relative infancy fool you. These fellows have been, and will be, around for a while.
"There are more good bands around town now than since the mid-'80s," says Chris Kennedy, who plays drums and adds backing vocals for the band. To his credit, he's been responsible for several said local acts. No Volcano is a serious band for serious times, but one of their most endearing qualities is that they don't take themselves as seriously as they take their love of music and local Mexican food.
Never afraid to expose the audience to his fantastic wit and masterful command of both chorus and verse, singer/guitar player Jim Andreas has one of those voices that sticks to your ear like a nice big ball of wax. He's been fronting bands in the valley for close to 30 years, most notably as the frontman for Phoenix faves Trunk Federation, but also in 80s noise punks, Bootbeast Carnival.
Fellow Trunk Federation alum Kennedy is back behind the skins after fronting the underrated Kingfathand for the past few years. Kennedy is one of the most talented musicians in town, and his work here with No Volcano is no exception.
Joined by bassist Jake Sevier, who played a similar role in Letdownright (which featured both Andreas and Kennedy, as well as local mover and shaker Kimber Lanning), and guitar/organ maestro Jeremy Randall, whom you may remember from Colorstore, Andreas and Kennedy follow up their stellar body of work with their best effort to date. The interplay between Kennedy and Sevier, who have been a rhythm section for nine years across multiple bands, is almost like a Vulcan mind meld: instinctual, pounding, and profound.
Although quiet in person, Randall is nothing, if not expertly noisy on stage. Randall adds serious guitar texture to No Volcano's expertly crafted songs, in addition to some pretty killer organ riffs, which are key to the multi-layered approach both new and old fans will recognize.
Adept with both a slide on his finger and a pedal board full of noise makers, Randall's intricate, yet deliciously dark and skronky guitar lines weave in and out of the airtight rhythm section and dance with Jim's captivating vocals and skilled rhythm guitar.
The band, like many of their peers, has a difficult time categorizing itself. "This project . . . I think we all have wanted it to be a little heavier . . . more fun to see live," says Andreas, and he's not wrong. Compared to their previous efforts, No Volcano is much darker, heavier, and grittier. Imagine early-'70s Rolling Stones mixing it up with early-'90s Flaming Lips in a dark alley, then hanging out on the corner smoking cigarettes together after the brawl, and somewhere, Lou Reed is smiling like a proud godfather.
No Volcano plans to record material this year and play occasionally. "Record, record, record . . . We just need to get off our lazy asses and record some more," says Andreas. "I love to write songs. I like having new songs to play. That's my favorite part and I feel very fortunate to still be able to do it."
Adds Kennedy: "We just want to play shows where we can play for like-minded people. It's not about 'big' necessarily, but good shows we can play occasionally."
"What is cool about what's going on now and what we get to be a part of, is that the bands around town, there is a lot of really good, diverse music, and it is pretty cool," Andreas says.
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