Arts & EventsJohn Wozniak Hasn't Left Wonderland Yet

John Wozniak Hasn't Left Wonderland Yet

John Wozniak Hasn't Left Wonderland Yet

Photo by Amanda Thurlow

What do you do when your band doesn't want to play your songs? Just play them yourself. That's what workaholic John Wozniak of Marcy Playground does when his band isn't free or feeling like his latest songs fit them as a band. Keeping himself playing music and touring whether Marcy Playground has time or not Wozniak has managed to spin a solo career out of just keeping busy. Coming to Ottawa on April 22 to play at Pressed Café, he'll be just in time for the first vinyl release of Marcy Playground's self-titled debut that's getting a special release on Record Store Day, just in time for its 20th anniversary.

Ottawa Life: How does it feel to see your debut record on vinyl for the first time?

John Wozniak:Amazing, it's weird to think it never came out on vinyl at all, we had 7" for jukeboxes. At the time the whole industry was CDs and cassettes, but it's great, I grew up with vinyl.

Do you have any nods to it planned considering you're playing on Record Store Day?

For sure, I mean it's going to be a mix of different songs from the different records but it's a big day for me, I'm looking forward to it.

Since one of your solo records ended up as a Marcy Playground record how do you manage to keep the two separate? Is it more of a process of writing songs and figuring out where they go or if things change, they change?

I've been thinking about this a lot. Usually what I do is write the songs and bring them to the band, and if the band wants to do them as Marcy Playground songs we'll do that. I always give them the first opportunity. If I ever put out a record without running it by the band first and it turned into a hit they'd probably be pretty choked that I didn't ask them. That's been my reasoning since the beginning. When I'm writing songs, I'm writing songs, there's no thought on whether it's going to be solo or Marcy Playground. I'll just write with my acoustic guitar and if the band says they like it and they're Marcy songs.

Since the band isn't exactly defunct, what do you get out of your solo stuff that you can't do with the band?

No. If I'm going to do something for me it really is because the guys aren't available. It's them first, it's always been. The solo project is really just extra. The one thing I get is that when they're unavailable I'm able to play music and do stuff. They have families, kids and more responsibilities so they're more limited these days.

How do you think your time as a producer has shaped your writing?  

It gives me a lot more experience to draw on. Any time I'm in a studio with a band, I'll draw from my experience, and in doing so have a unique experience with them and bring that back to my band. Guitar tones, drum sounds and learning how to produce and work with sounds in a studio, it helps my experience level. Working with singers, I can help bring out a good performance from a good singer, and strangely drummers. Dylan and Dan are both heavy hitters in terms of musical education and I wasn't, so they both gave me a pretty good education in the band. Working with drummers became easier because they forced me to understand. My experience touring, and working in studio with producers has really helped me as a producer later on.

I don't know how many people would have thought you'd work with Daniel Powter so how did that come about?

Daniel was in recording his record that had "Bad Day" on it and I met him. He was working with Jeff Dawson, who ended up engineering Leaving Wonderland... In a Fit Of Rage. Dan was hanging around and we needed a piano part for a particular song and he was like "Yeah man I'll absolutely do it," and it came out great. It wasn't that weird, there's a close-knit community of musicians out there in Vancouver. At the time it was a smaller time musically.

Do you or the band have something in the works especially with the reissue I imagine interest will be up.

We're heading out on the road at the end of May for five or six weeks. That's going to be a lot of fun, there are around 30 shows, and that will continue throughout the year.  

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