Fun with Marcy Playground

Tulsa Today Exclusive
The one obvious thing is that he has a great voice.  My cell phone reception is coming and going and John Wozniak, lead singer of Marcy Playground, is on the line.  “Holly Moley,” I feel like I belong in a cell phone commercial.

In a nervous panic, I remain quiet, comically pressing my ear tightly against the phone, and trying hard to focus on the business at hand–interviewing this rather ingenious pop rock star, who hit the scene with the entertaining and spirited song, “Sex and Candy.“ (see the video) As the song lyrics state, “Yeah, this surely is a dream…”

The single, which stayed at number one on Billboard’s U.S. Modern Rock Tracks Charts for an impressive 15 consecutive weeks, was an instant favorite, pushing sales of the band’s self titled debut album straight up into the millions.
Other tracks on that release included songs such as: “The Vampires of New York,” “Gone Crazy,” and “Dog and His Master.”With their fifth album now completed, entitled, “Leaving Wonderland … In a Fit of Rage,” Marcy Playground is back in town as part of their 2009 season tour.
“We are currently promoting three albums.  There is Leaving Wonderland.  Then, we are giving away, with the first 10,000 cds, a free download of our MP3 album,” he said.

“Basically, we’re giving the fans two records for the price of one. We are also working on an album that is coming out at the end of the year, featuring songs that have been written but never released.”

Wozniak, returning from a recent tour in the Bahamas, is looking forward to his Tulsa visit.  This creative, imaginative performer has family here.
“My uncle Joel lives in town and I have several cousins in the area,” he said. “It should be fun.”

Although most people don’t know it, Wozniak’s uncle was the first person to teach him how to play a song.  He was 14 at the time.  “I think it was the song My Little Brown Jug.  My first guitar was given to me by my grandma and grandpa.  They all play music and sing,” he said.

Being around them, Wozniak figured out performing is what he wanted to do and that he could do it.

With five albums rotating in the market, that little 14 year old who sat with his grandpa learning a few chords, has come a long way.

From the new tour to a fun, interactive website that offers merchandising opportunities, music downloads, videos and an impressive array of interactive activities, the group has aligned their marketing efforts well.

“New artists need to utilize resources that are available, like myspace and twitter,” he said. “Having a recording is also important.  You reach a greater audience with a live recording.”

He continues, “Record producers might not admit it, but they cruise these sites looking for the next new thing.  When someone starts to blow up on myspace, they are watching.  Playing live and getting your local radio personalities involved is important, too.”

As he explains, “Those guys have a lot of connections and they will go the extra mile to break a song nationally.”

The real trick to learning this business, Wozniak says, is to get organized as a business.

Acting on his own advice, the band is involved in all the aspects of their website, which showcases some very interesting biographies on each of them.

“We did that ourselves,” he said. “We’ve also got music downloads and bulletin boards. If people want to hear one of our records, all they have to do is go to the website and listen. We offer high quality recordings online that people can listen to without interruption.”

Songs from the new album are showcased on the website’s main page. When I visit, the one playing, is titled, “Blackbird.” It’s Wozniak’s favorite song.

“I wrote that one about my wife,” he says.  I’m not sure what the details are surrounding it and I don’t ask.  I just know that she’s fortunate.

Wozniak, who seems to have an interesting approach to his music and marketing, helped create a sound that is uniquely Marcy Playground.

He’s a good example to many of the 160 signed and unsigned bands making their way to Tulsa for next weekend‘s D‘fest activities.

“It is important for new artists to understand that so much of this is a business.  You have to have a group of people that are supportive of that.  You need management, an agent who can book you, and you need to network and be social,” he said. “You can’t be a wallflower.  If you are, you have to put that behind you and go out and make new friends and get people involved in what you are doing.  In the end, it is all about relationships.”

He continues, “It’s not really how good you are, but rather who you know that makes the difference.”

Marcy Playground consists of John Wozniak, Dylan Keefe, and Shlomi Lavie.  Touring with them is Sponge, a grunge band from Detroit, Michigan, known for their hit debut album, “Rotting Piñata.”  Group members consist of: Vinnie Dombroski, Mike Cross, and Joey Mazzola.

Making this a triple headliner is the band Seven Mary Three, who waded into mainstream with their beloved hit, “Cumbersome.”  They’re also known for singles such as: "Over Your Shoulder," "Each Little Mystery," "Wait,” "Sleepwalking," "Without You Feels," and “Last Kiss." Band members consist of: Casey Daniel, Jason Ross, Thomas Juliano, and Mike Levesque.

Marcy Playground will take the stage with Sponge and Seven Mary Three on Saturday night, July 18 at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel located at 777 Cherokee St., in Catoosa, OK.

Doors for this show open at 6 p.m. Tickets are free for the general public.  Individuals must be at least 21 to attend.

For more information, please visit the casino website here. To learn more about upcoming tour dates or Marcy Playground, visit their official website. (