NXNE Preview: Volcano Playground

Toronto Band Volcano Playground NXNE Interview By: TJ Liebgott
June 12, 2011

Volcano Playground is one of the more unconventional bands playing NXNE, but also one of the most interesting.  Their sound plays out more like a movie soundtrack than a song. With shimmering guitars that play over ambient and ethereal pads and hauntingly beautiful vocals that are grounded by drum grooves, Volcano Playgrounds music usually leaves you in a trance deep in thought.

They are experimental enough to appeal to those bored by conventional rock music, but have enough structure to not turn off the average music fan.  It’s of no surprise that they will be recording their debut album with Broken Social Scene producer Dave Newfeld.  Volcano Playground’s Jackie Game tells us more about their upcoming NXNE showcase.

How are you doing and where are you right now?

I’m doing well, and interning at Arts & Crafts at the moment.

There are a lot of bands playing NXNE, what makes yours stand out?

We’re the combination of three lead singer/lead songwriters from three different bands. So for one, every song comes under the intense scrutiny of the others, which is a long and painful process, but it really helps weed out the weaker songs. It also means our songs vary quite a bit from one to the other. Some bands can get a bit monotonous if there’s one principle songwriter that has a more formulaic approach. We never know where a song is going to come from. Some songs start out as full-out electronic songs that we later adapt to guitar, and some start as drum or guitar loops.  Others are written on acoustic and adapted to be more electric. I don’t think we could be formulaic if we wanted to. Our vocal harmonies might set us apart also. We put a lot of effort into those.

You played NXNE last year.  Tell us about your experience, the things you learned and how your performances went down.  What are you planning on doing differently this time?

It was a good set, but we were fairly new to the Toronto scene. It was a blast running around the city checking out all the bands. This year we’re playing a much better showcase with some exciting bands, and we’re just as excited about having a free pass to seeing a bunch of bands.

What is your band working on at the moment?

We just finished making a couple of soundtrack songs for the InspiraTO festival, which we also did last year. It’s theatre, so there’s not too much pressure and it’s good practice for if we ever get to do a Virgin Suicides type thing, which would be really cool. We’re also getting ready to record our first full-length. Us and our NXNE stage-mates Grounders have started working with Broken Social Scene producer Dave Newfeld. It’s also being filmed which is very new for us. But we don’t really know in what form this footage will be released.

What other acts are you hoping to catch at the festival this year? 

I’m really excited about Crocodiles, Grounders, Suuns, The Luyas, Chad Vangaalen…..  we have many more bands to check out online before we make up our schedule.

NXNE is finally starting to receive international recognition for its stellar lineups and workshops.  What do you think this means for Canada and Canadian music?

It’s a good thing for us as a band of course, but it could also be good for the economy. If we’re going to keep moving away from manufacturing and becoming more of a creative economy, then we need to uphold the arts, and NXNE is a great way to push the local scene, import great bands, and hopefully, export great bands.

Which shows/events/BBQs/unofficial events are you playing?  Please list all below.

We’re playing @ 11pm @ Rancho Relaxo on Friday June 17th

Where can we find out more about you?

Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/Volcano-Playground/91041643461
Myspace www.myspace.com/volcanoplayground
Google always works too.

Any last parting words for us music-hungry Toronto folk?

Our full-length is still a ways off, but we have posted some demos on our Myspace. Not sure if they’ll even end up on the album or how different they’ll sound when they’re done, but we thought we’d put something up for the time being.

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