Music Pistol Interview with: Volcano Kings


MP: Firstly, what is the origin of your Artist Name/Band Name?

VK: The Name is an homage to the surf music tradition of showing reverence to the ferocious nature of the Volcano. Plus we use a lot of organ in the band. The organ sounds like the color red or orange, The organ is a fiery powerful sound much like a lava explosion. Also the name sites the song “King Volcano” by Bauhaus which is a direct or indirect influence on the band. The lyrics of King Volcano are apropos to the nature of the band and the personalities in the band I think.

MP: Please list the names, and respective instrument of each band member.

VK: Volcano Kings has had a constantly changing line up over the years. Typically there is always 4 members or at times 5. We use Bass, Drums, Organ or Rhodes, Guitars, Traditional percussion (i.e: bongos, maracas, guiro, Tamborine,) or non traditional percussion like sheet metals and gallon drums for other sounds. Members are currently: Kyle Stumpe on Bass, Alec Tisdale on Drums, Joe Val Jean Quincy Adams on Guitars and Keyboards, John Val Jean Adams on Guitars, Keyboards, Drums, Bass, Cellos, Percussions and potentially the worst Trumpet playing allowed to be recorded in the last decade.

MP: When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?

VK: The Band started as a solo recording project of John Val Jean Adams in 1998 on a 8 Track tape recorder. We started playing as a live 4piece band in 2008 to see if the songs might work live.

MP: What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?

VK: Surf Music is a major influence. All the late 50’s and 60’s crime jazz stuff like John Barry and some Henry Mancini, Spaghetti Westerns like Ennio Morricone or Hugo Montenegro. Plus some post punk and kraut-rock influences somehow factor in on some of the songs. It is supposed to sound like a soundtrack to a movie or a setting or place.

MP: Could you briefly describe the music-making process?

VK: We essentially work in an old rundown concrete New England post industrial building without heat or air conditioning and the water is not safe for drinking. It is simultaneously hidden away from the world but situated directly along the Interstate 95 which runs parallel with the Acela Corridor. John Val Jean works there every night on demos and recordings. the band rehearses once every 2 weeks in average. Some songs are completely collaborative others are John’s demos turned into something more substantial by the live unit.

MP: What can you tell me about your instruments, or favorite software?

VK: We have essentially entry level stuff as far as instruments go except for a Little Phatty Moog which is a pretty stellar and amazing piece of equipment. We also recently bought a fancy AKG large diaphragm condenser Mic which is not as good as a Neumann but comes close I guess. We use Tascam DP-32 Multitrack recorders, A lot of sm57 Mics and oktava condenser Mics plus pro-tools for mixing and the aforementioned AKG . We actually really enjoy using pro-tools. It’s been a life saver despite all the criticism that people pile on that particular software; we’ve found it very handy.

MP: What’s your ultimate direction for you as an artist?

VK: We are hoping to make great music! to continue learning and experimenting and then get the finished compositions out there for people to use or listen to if they might be interested in them.

MP: How has your music evolved since you first began playing music?

VK: I think after all these years we are starting to finally understand how to make decent sounds on our individual instruments and then when combined actually sound like music, plus the affordability of DIY recording and mixing has been a HUGE boon! We work really hard on our stuff. I don’t think we are naturally gifted or talented musicians but we compensate for that by amassing hours of work and experiments in different styles. We have passed the 10,000 hour rule posited by Malcolm Gladwell. (Though I recently heard that theory has many exceptions to it.)

MP: What has been your biggest challenge as an artist? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?

VK: The desire for perfection has stopped us at times. We had to let it go. We release lo-fi stuff, we release stuff with mistakes now. We strive for high quality but we can’t spend a year on 10 songs if we are neglecting writing potentially better songs during that time.