Twenty years ago, Marcy Playground's John Wozniak was thrust into the national spotlight.

The songwriter and his band struck gold with their 1997 self-titled debut album and its iconic single "Sex and Candy." For Wozniak, the almost overnight road to stardom was a roller coaster. The high speed of the ascent made for a quick education for the alternative rock band.

"It was such a whirlwind," Wozniak says. "Back then, we were forced to learn so much about the business side: how to be on tour, how to record, how to market yourself, and even how to position yourself on stage. It was a lot of work."

The pressure created a good bit of stress but the band's perseverance has paid off handsomely. Marcy Playground brings their 20-year celebration to the Stage On Bay Saturday with quintessential alternative rockers Fuel.

Having been through the trials put upon young musicians with a mega hit, Wozniak says his time together with the band truly is a celebration.

"I appreciate my bandmates," Wozniak says. "Dylan (Keefe, bassist) has been there from the beginning, and he and our drummer's (Shlomi Lavie) dedication are equal to mine."

After spending so much time learning how to be broadcast far and wide, the focus seems to be more remote for the longtime bandmates. Marcy Playground shows are now, more than ever, about the band enjoying themselves and the crowd in front of them.

"Now our goals are more personal," Wozniak says. "Did we have fun? Are we enjoying making music? Are we connecting with the audience? How do we feel after the show?" Adding to the fraternal nature of the tour are the hugely successful Fuel.

Fuel's 1998 debut "Sunburn" gifted the band several songs among the top 20 on Billboard's Modern Rock charts. The concert should produce some nostalgic moments for fans of the alternative rock giants while showcasing the seasoned songwriting chops of Wozniak. The man who created a song free of clichés that dominated commercial radio for 15 weeks still finds songwriting to be his main calling.

Wozniak is constantly writing at his new studio, and plans to wrap up work on a solo album and a new Marcy Playground album once the tour ends.

"The songwriting process is faster because I have a studio of my own," Wozniak says. "Back then, I would choose songs based on what I thought was good. Technology has improved so I can record at home and process ideas much faster. It turbo charges the songwriting process."

Marcy Playground has weathered the winds of their chaotic rise and have emerged happier and ready to share more music. "It's been such an up and down journey," Wozniak says. "It's weird to think we started 23 years ago as a band. That's almost a quarter of a century. Soon the band will be older than I was when we started!"

Devotees of alternative rock's golden age can expect a trip back to their younger days, while being treated to a timeless tradition of carefully crafted songs connecting with eager music fans.


What: Fuel, Marcy Playground, Dishwalla

When: 8 p.m. Aug. 5

Where: The Stage on Bay, 1200 W. Bay St.

Cost: $29 to $39