Volcano, I'm Still Excited!!

Through the use of a keyboard, a guitar, and a double bass drum (but no bass), the three members of Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! deftly compose unconventional, yet catchy pop songs--throw in a dash of Elvis Costello, Jonathon Richman, and a mix of Spoon and you'll begin to get the idea. Their must-see live performances include songs in rounds, sweatbands, aerobic workouts, and any other impromptu device that further draws the crowd into their performances. And the name? Some say it's a tribute to Tom Hanks' Joe Versus the Volcano, others say it's some sort of bizarre mantra/rallying cry, others say it's a merely a random stream of consciousness phrase. Either way, Volcano, I'm Still Excited!!'s style is all their own and their rise to existence is as unusual as their non-sequitur name.

In 1998 Mark Duplass, lead singer/organist of Volcano, I'm Still Excited!!, released his solo debut album Small Hands, and toured the United States armed solely with an acoustic guitar, selling over 1,000 CDs from the back of his conversion van. After a demo deal with Polygram's Mercury Records, and another successful solo release, Mark moved from Austin to NYC to tour and conquer the Northeast. Things would not quite work out the way they had been planned. Within six weeks of his NYC arrival, Mark was diagnosed with severe tendonitis in both arms and was informed that he would never be able to play guitar again without further damaging his wrists. Crestfallen and still wanting to remain involved with music, he enrolled with the City College of New York in Harlem to study composition. Then, he found a Casio organ that cost him $10. It was the first instrument he could play relatively pain-free.

In winter 2002, using the compositional theories he had learned at CCNY as the template, Mark began home recording on an 8-track and Dictaphone. Tracking all of the instruments himself (including guitar), he was successfully able to self-record albeit only in short, five-minute intervals. These songs were then sent to longtime friend, producer, and guitarist Byron Westbrook who was still living in Austin. On a trip back from Christmas vacation in Louisiana, Byron played the tape for drummer John Thomas Robinette III and the two soon concocted a scheme to form a band with Mark. Six months later, the three found themselves in Austin, fleshing out and realizing the song structures that had been brought to the table. These sessions resulted in Carbon Copy, Volcano, I'm Still Excited!!'s debut EP. They began touring immediately, rapidly building an East Coast and Midwestern fanbase.

With their third tour on Carbon Copy, Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! found themselves playing Champaign, Illinois' Highdive. Josef Robey, longtime Polyvinyl friend, and the same person who initially turned Polyvinyl onto Mates of State, sent everyone out to the show. Despite a bad case of the flu that ended up cutting the rest of the tour short, Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! floored everyone in attendance. After the show, the band crashed at the Polyvinyl offices and a warm friendship soon ensued.

Two months later Polyvinyl made the decision to the release the band's debut full-length. Guitarist Craig Montoro, who spent the summer recording with Mates of State on 2003's Team Boo, was brought aboard after Byron left the band to pursue other projects. The band convened in Austin once again in early October 2003 to record at Music Lane with engineer Andy Sharp (Mates of State).

After relentless touring, Mark's tendonitis became so bad that the band was forced to go inactive.  Mark became an accomplished filmmaker.  His 2005 film, The Puffy Chair, garnered much attention.  Craig went on to play in Sufjan Stevens' band, while John Thomas is playing in a number of projects including JTR3, Va Va China, Asiko, and Ready Fire Aim.

With the band members focusing on so many other projects at the moment, it's better to think of Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! not as extinct, but merely dormant for the time being.

Videos

  • In Green (2:27)
    Jay Duplass

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