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Volcano erupts on ‘The Island’ 

by Seth Combs . FEBRUARY 20, 2019 Issue San Diego City Beat

Local band combines Afrobeat, krautrock and psychedelic jamming

As a child of the ’80s, I can testify to the fact that there used to be a time when saying that a band sounded like Santana was a huge compliment. Those early Santana records (Santana, Abraxas and Caravanserai) were masterful amalgamations of rock, Latin rhythms and psychedelia. As a live act, the band was a jamming force to be reckoned with. If Carlos had followed Jimi, Janis and Jim into an early grave, I have no doubt that he’d be looked at as some kind of Mexi prophet who propelled polyrhythmic rock ’n’ roll into another stratosphere. 

Instead he went on to be the guy behind “Smooth (Feat. Rob Thomas).” :-/ 

Local psych-rockers Volcano do not list Santana as an influence on their music, but listening to their debut album, it’s hard not to think about the line of artists before and since who pulled and pushed against the parameters of what rock could be, and who also knew how to rock the fuck out and blow minds. Artists such as James Brown, Fela Kuti and even the Allman Brothers and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Considering the members of Volcano have collectively played in some excellent local bands (JOY, Harsh Toke and Loom), it makes sense they’d want to blow minds minds with epic guitar solos, drum breakdowns and talismanic percussion. 

The six tracks on The Island could very well be one track, both conceptually and stylistically. Not only is there a sense of seamlessness, with one song bleeding into the next, but there’s also a loose narrative in the lyrics about island natives attempting to fight back against invaders. “No Evil, Know Demon” and “Skewered,” in particular, are boiling pots of jamming that rank up there with anything in the local psychedelic-rock scene. The fact that Volcano add elements of Afrobeat and krautrock only adds nuance and energy to a sound that could have been a mess in lesser hands. 

My only gripe with the record, and it’s a small one, is that aforementioned seamlessness. Listening to The Island is an exercise and one that should be done as a whole. The fact that it feels as if we’re listening to one extended track is cool, but I couldn’t help but wish at times that there was one track that stood out as a singular statement. But again, this is a small gripe. Not everyone has an “Oye Como Va,” an “Evil Ways” or even a “Smooth” in them, and that’s quite OK.

Original post is here Review The Island 

 By Josie Faulkner    February 15, 2019  


You’ll be hard pressed to find out much about VOLCANO on the internet. Type in their band name, followed by a few keywords and you’ll be flooded with pictures of exploding mountains or adverts promoting the perfect get-away for two in Hawaii. In fact, they barely seem to exist with exception of two songs floating around online. A deeper dive into the pages of Google and it would seem there is reason why. 

Born from the underground psychedelic scene in San Diego, all five of VOLCANO’s members came together from other bands – JOY, HARSH TOKE and LOOM – to form a supergroup of sorts; their first song 10,000 Screaming Souls spreading like wildfire through word of mouth, which explains why they’ve erupted seemingly from out of nowhere. A resplendent blend of psychedelic-rock and Afro-beat rhythms, within just a few months VOLCANO landed a spot at last years Roadburn Festival, blowing away everyone present at their packed out slot in a riotous affair. Fast forward a few months, and the band are on the cusp of releasing their debut album The Island: a short foray into the realms of stoner-rock, comprised of only six tracks, that will have you shaking with glee from it’s opening bars.


Leading the charge with Naked Prey, drummer Matt Oakley and percussionist Ake Arndt‘s feisty polyrhythmic playing immediately sets the pace for the record. Fervently VOLCANO use their collective instruments (synths and organs et al) to showcase their penchant for weaving a tale rather than relying on vocals. Fluidly working their way through an atmosphere that feels like flaming hot lava, they lean on luscious swathes of twanging guitars; which at times threaten to explode in a rush of heaviness but instead simmers along with melodious intent. 

A ’70s inspired groove rears its head in Skewered; grounded by the funk of Billy Ellsworth‘s bass while Oakley’s sustained rhythms offer a ceaseless pounding that is inescapably dance-able. VOLCANO manage to echo the funk and prog masters of the past without ever really setting a foot into the realms of nostalgia. On No Devil Know Demon the influences of JAMES BROWN and THE FUNKEES are prevalent, while the hedonistic romp of Eruption draws in the dynamism of their Kraut rock influences — forging a path for something that feels unique yet ultimately familiar. 

The sparse addition of vocals, predominantly found in the choruses, offer the listener something to latch onto in the never-ending sea of psychedelia. So much so that the whole record feels like VOLCANO have invited us all to join them in a long jamming session, plucked straight from an old school hippie party sheathed in a stoner haze. And it’s glorious. With enough riffing to tip you over the edge one moment before luring you back into their realm, VOLCANO have something here that will guarantee to be stuck in your head for days, whether you like it or not. Cleverly articulated through their vast knowledge of their craft, The Island is a fantastic introduction to the San Diego supergroup, and leaves plenty of unexplored territory for album number two. 

Rating: 8/10

Original post is here: Review The Island 

by Martyn Coppack | February 13, 2019 | Reviews

With a line up consisting of members of Harsh Toke, Joy, Loom and Radio Moscow, you would imagine that offshoot group Volcano would offer something quite remarkable. What you might not expect is a full on Afrobeat album steeped in a lysergic stew of San Diego acid. Taking inspiration from a mix of Fela Kuti, Hendrix and Can it offers more than enough to intrigue the discerning psych head. 

The reality is that although those influences are plain to see, it is sometimes hard to remove them from the hybrid noise that is happening and much of the time the music sounds like a second rate copy. That’s not to disparage this album in any way though, as it is actually a vibrant kick to the balls and provides hours of head jigging, feet stomping movement.

Take the excellent ‘No Evil Know Demon’, which trades its tribal chants with explosive funky guitars. After a somewhat unsure start the album comes to life and any calls of cultural misappropriation are thrown to the wind. There’s a definite sense of respect for where their music comes from, and this sweeps through in the wonderful way in which the instruments and vocals intricately weave their way through the mix. 

In truth, most of the tracks merge into one after a while although that doesn’t stop the fun in anyway. As the album progresses it gets increasingly deeper until we reach the absolutely scorching solo on ‘10,000 Screaming Souls’. Musically very little changes and the vocals all become a maelstrom of chanting over the repetitive funky bass. The joy is in the actual rhythm though and if you don’t feel yourself moving along then you might just want to check your temperature. Things get quite hot in here at times and you may just be dead if you don’t feel it! 

Most surprising is how this album sounds literally nothing like any of the ones listed above in the opening paragraph. The essence of the explosive guitars that Joy and Harsh Toke provide is there, but any further comparison is out of the question. The nearest contemporary comparison would probably be Goat, but even then you get the idea that where Goat make a career out of it, Volcano are in it to pay homage and to have fun. Either way, they sure make a fun time of it on an at times transcendent album. Funky times indeed.

Original post is here

The influence of Krautrock, Zamrock, Northern soul, blues, and prog on San Diego’s Volcano 

By Andrew Hamlin, Feb. 14, 2019, in the San Diego Reader

The San Diego all-star band Volcano, who release their debut album The Island on February 15, blend the sounds of Fela Kuti, Can, James Brown, and the Allman Brothers. Asked how a bunch of stoners pulled this off, guitarist Zach Oakley makes it sound all quite elementary. 

“It was a natural amalgamation of everything we like,” testifies Oakley, who also plays in Joy and Space Nature. “We listen to Krautrock, Zamrock, Northern soul, blues, and prog every day. I think before Volcano we may had been a little more narrow-minded in that we just wanted to put together heavy bluesy jam bands. Like hey, ‘let’s start a band that sounds like Blue Cheer or Captain Beyond.’ But with Volcano it’s a little bit of everything.” 

Volcano features keyboardist Gabe Messner from Harsh Toke, bassist Billy Ellsworth from Loom and Radio Moscow, drummer Matt Oakley (Zach’s brother), and percussionist Ake Arndt from the visual arts collective Operation Mindblow. With prog and Krautrock in the mix, a concept album was not entirely unexpected. 

Exclusive stream, No Evil Know Demon 

Download audio clip 

“Gabe came up with the concept of the album being the story of a lost island and its struggles against outside invaders and the dark governing forces of nature,” Oakley explains. “The main lyrics and story were written by Gabe. There are also a lot of chanting and vocal melodies that we all came up with on the spot in the studio to fill out the tunes. Hard to say which individual came up with what chant or certain vocal expression, but it’s safe to say that it was a combination of everyone getting into the Volcano headspace and allowing stream of consciousness to take over.” 

Asked for San Diego music stories, Oakley allows that he doesn’t have much glowing to say. “San Diego is pretty sleepy as a music community,” he concludes. “Nothing comes easy in terms of crowds, record deals, or hype in San Diego. No one gives a fuck. Either they’re too old to get into something new, or they’re wasted and out at the beach enjoying the awesome weather and don’t want to go to some weird show, in a weird part of town, at some weird off-the-beaten-path venue. 

“The fact that nothing comes easy for independent musicians and bands in San Diego is part of what defines our scene. We love and we’ll clearly stand by it and keep it going regardless of our town’s lack of interest. It’s a curse and a blessing.”

The Obelisk - “Naked Prey” Video / The Island Due Feb. 15 

The first real inkling of what Volcano are all about came last year when the San Diego unit released a single track on their Bandcamp page. Already an album was said to be in the works, and soon after “10,000 Screamin’ Souls” (discussed here) showed up, the band was booked at Roadburn. It was, if I recall right, their second — maybe third? — show, in the 700-capacity Green Room, and Earthless‘ Mario Rubalcaba sat in on percussion. Not too shabby. I was fortunate enough to be there to see it, and with Harsh Toke‘s Gabe Messer on keys and vocals as the madman bandleader and JOY guitarist Zach Oakley jamming through funked-out riffs and classic-style soloing backed by the rhythm section of bassist Billy Ellsworth (also Loom) and drummer Matt Oakley (brother to Zach), the band were immediately locked in to being free as all hell, obviously having a blast and inviting the crowd to do the same as they ran through songs like “Naked Prey,” “No Evil, Know Demon,” “10,000 Screamin’ Souls” and “The Island” melded Afrobeat grooves with the psychedelia and heavy rock that’s become such a staple of their hometown. 

Given the association with JOY and Harsh Toke, and the fact that the music was awesome, it was no surprise to find out Volcano had signed to Tee Pee Records, which together with Kommune Records will handle the release of The Island, the band’s first album. Comprised of Messer, the Oakleys, Ellsworth, and Ake Arndt (Operation Mindblow) on percussion, the studio incarnation of Volcanowould seem to be no less feral in their intent than the stage version was last April. Having since pulled down “10,000 Screamin’ Souls” as a single from their Bandcamp page, the band has made “Naked Prey” available as the first audio from The Island, and it’s my pleasure today to host the premiere of the song’s accompanying video. 

The footage is kind of grainly, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is getting naked, but if running through a jungle surrounded on all sides by ocean with no clothes on is the vibe Volcano are going for, they’ve pretty much got it down. “Naked Prey” is first and foremost a party, a good time in the tradition of letting loose, breaking through stylistic barriers and exploring a range of sounds from a range of places. A bit of cultural appropriation? Oh, most definitely. The video moves in a different direction, though, tapping into a grainy tube-TV aesthetic that Zach, who directed and offers some comment under the clip below, relates directly to early ’70s German music television. Because obviously. And suitably enough, they’re thinking of “Naked Prey” as analogous to what the rest of The Island has to offer. I haven’t heard the full thing yet, but having been lucky enough to hear at least some of these songs live, I believe it. 

The Island is out Feb. 15. If you have an ass, get ready to shake it. 

Pull from the original post here

The Obelisk - Volcano at Roadburn 2018 

Roadburn 2018 Day Three: No Evil No Demon 

......I knew I wanted to be back in the Green Room for Volcano, so I hopscotched out of the Main Hall and downstairs to grab a quick bite to eat. Some vegan meatballs and seasoned mystery (actual-)meat later, I lubbered up to the front of the Green Room and there planted myself to wait for Volcano to hit it. 

And I mean hit it. Led by the keys of Harsh Toke‘s Gabe Messer and the guitar of Joy‘s Zach Oakley, with Red Octopus‘ Billy Ellsworth on bass, I don’t even know who on drums, Sacri Monti and Joy drummer Thomas Dibenedetto on percussive sticks and Earthless‘ own Mario Rubalcaba sitting in on bongos and other percussion, Volcano were an Afrobeat-inspired melee of psychedelic funk, starting out their set with a song called “Naked Prey” and ending with their previously-posted single, “10,000 Screaming Souls” (discussed here), and in between, they were an absolute blast of rhythm, vibe and motion. “No Evil No Demon” invited shouting sing-alongs, and as my understanding is that their record is already done and they’re already signed to Tee Pee for the release — hardly a surprise given the personnel involved — I was thinking of their set as something of a preview of what’s to come when the album lands, but they were already crazy tight, locked in, and looking and sounding like they were having a total blast. 

It was their second show. Two. I’d sat next to Ellsworth on the bus ride from the airport to Tilburg the other day and he told me the band figured they might as well get one under their belt before playing Roadburn. Their second show. In the Green Room. And they totally killed it. 

04.21.18 – 11:31PM CET – Saturday night – Hotel Mercure Rm. 224 

Edited from the original post here .

City Beat - Members of JOY, Harsh Toke start new band 

Members of some heavyweight bands in the local psychedelic scene have come together with a new project called Volcano. The band features Harsh Toke’s Gabe Messer on keyboards and vocals, JOY’S Zachary Oakley on guitar, his brother Matt on drums, Loom’s Billy Ellsworth on bass and Operation Mindblow’s Ake Arndt on percussion. They’re all friends who have known each other for a long time, and the project’s been something they’ve been talking about for a while, even if it only recently launched. 

“It started out when a few of us were just hanging out, drinking beers in Venice Beach,” says Messer. “We thought it’d be cool to bring more of a Fela Kuti vibe to San Diego. But it took about three years to get off the ground.” 

The band’s first recorded music, the song “10,000 Screaming Souls,” has just been released on Bandcamp. It’s a teaser of the upcoming full-length debut that the band plans to release this spring, though Arndt and Messer say that its funky, psychedelic grooves aren’t necessarily reflective of the band’s beginnings, which mostly saw them working on loose jams. 

“If we rushed it, it just wouldn’t be ready,” says Arndt. “So we took another year.” 

“It’s a lot different than how we started it,” adds Messer. 

Volcano are highly influenced by the Afrobeat style of music, made famous by the likes of Fela Kuti. There are other world psychedelic sounds at work as well, and their upcoming LP, which will be released via Tee Pee, will reflect their diverse influences. They say that the album’s 40 minutes of music will be stretched to 60 minutes once they bring their sound to a live stage later this year. 

“We’re all big fans of the music coming out of Nigeria in the ‘70s,” says Arndt. 

“We coined our own genre: ‘tropadelic’,” adds Messer. “We’re not trying to emulate so much of the ‘70s guitar solo bands. We’re trying more to have a natural ebb and flow of rhythms. It’s going to be a fun fucking band.” 


by Jeff Terich / City Beat . origianl article is here

January 9, 2018 

1:37 PM

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