Marcy Playground plays Vail’s Sandbar Sunday |

Marcy Playground plays Vail’s Sandbar Sunday

Caitlin Row
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyMarcy Playground exploded onto the music scene in 1997 with their hit single "Sex And Candy.' The band plays Vail Sunday in support of its latest album

VAIL, Colorado – The fourth album by Marcy Playground, who come to Vail Sunday, is called “Leaving Wonderland … in a fit of rage” and it was born from darkness.

The group’s front man, singer and guitarist, John Wozniak, was in the throes of “a deep depression” when he chose to channel his angst into music. And the end result was a thoughtful, melodic roller coaster of a record he said is the best thing he’s ever done.

“I’m still alive,” Wozniak said of his journey out of melancholy, and now he’s happily married, living in Toronto and touring with his band for the first time in years.

Marcy Playground will play at The Sandbar in West Vail on Sunday, as part of an extensive tour promoting the album, which was released in July. It’s the band’s first performance in Vail.

Over the last decade, Wozniak spent a lot of time in the recording studio honing his production skills. He even owned and operated the Vancouver recording studio, Mushroom, from 1999 to 2006, but sold it and returned to his first love – musical performance.

“I stopped touring, but continued writing,” Wozniak said. “When you own a business like a recording studio, it turns into a 24-hour-a-day job. It’s not really conducive to touring.”

But he missed the road, so he got rid of the studio, put the band back together and made Marcy Playground his full-time gig again.

Marcy Playground has now gone to the other extreme – Wozniak, bassist Dylan Keefe and drummer Shlomi Lavie have been touring since March, and they’ll be on the road continuously for the next year with no real end in sight. They plan to take a slight hiatus in mid-December and then get back on the road for most of 2010.

Marcy Playground exploded onto the music scene in 1997 with their hit single “Sex And Candy,” a song that hit 15 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s U.S. Modern Rock tracks chart. Their self-titled debut album sold 1.7 million copies.

But, when it came to record the “Sex and Candy” song in 1995, he was tired of it, so it almost didn’t make the cut. Good thing he did – it’s been popular for more than 10 years, and recently played on the television show, “True Blood.”

Wozniak said he wrote “Sex and Candy” in the early ’90s when he was home from college on spring break.

“It was probably 3 a.m., and I’d been working on two to three different songs and I got really bored. I had that little riff. I started working on it and really quickly the song popped out. I made it completely out of the blue.”

Growing up in the 1970s and 80s, Wozniak said his main musical influences include Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, lots of classic rock and even music from the 1950s.

“I think songwriting was just more of a craft back then,” he said.

Music has always a part of the Marcy Playground front man’s life. As a kid, Wozniak said he had to have a radio in his room and he fell asleep to it every night. From age 5, he was always singing.

And when Wozniak saw his first electric guitar at age 13, “I was just like, ‘wow, that’s cool. I want one of those.'”

So, he saved up his pennies and his dad split it with him.

“As soon as got home, I put it on, and it wouldn’t come off until mom insisted I take it off for dinner,” Wozniak said. “So I had to eat real quick and then go back to play guitar.”

And if his music was an inanimate object?

“It would be a book. Not a concise book. Like a journal. It would be a book of short stories stilling on the shelf, leather bound. Like a really old book. Or a toaster oven. Because it’s hot, man. It’s hot and compact and it cooks up delicious treats.”

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at

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