Although the members of Marcy Playground met in New York City during the mid-'90s, both singer/guitarist John Wozniak and bassist Dylan Keefe originally hailed from Minneapolis, and drummer Dan Rieser grew up in Ohio. The group took its name from the Marcy Open School, an experimental elementary school that Wozniak attended in the late '70s. Wozniak was intimidated by a few other students during his time at Marcy Open, and he ultimately refused to join his peers on the school's playground during recess. Subsequently, the singer claimed that this tough period of his life served as "a foundation for a future self." In one of the band's first bios, he explained, "The strange way in which I see the world today can be directly traced back to the time when, as a little boy, I sat paralyzed by the unfortunate realities of life as I looked out of a school window and down onto the Marcy Playground."