Philly’s Favorite Indie Trio Talks About Their New Record

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 17:51

An Interview with Dan Schwartz of Good Old War

by: Casey Pukl

I still remember the first time I heard the song, “Coney Island” by Philadelphia indie folk/rock trio Good Old War. I had just moved to Nashville, TN, and was just coming home from my first show in town. It was a showcase called, “New Faces” at a tiny venue called The Basement. Of the seven acts that played, there was only one I liked, and I can’t even remember what they were called, but I do remember talking to their lead singer outside while he drunkenly chain-smoked. I told him that I enjoyed the band, we chit chatted for a bit (something about the holy powers of the Leslie), and then I asked him the one question I now ask all musicians I enjoy. “Who are you listening to lately?”

[Insert my drunken iTunes purchase of Good Old War’s song, “Coney Island” here.]

Formed by former members of Days Away, Keith Goodwin (GOOD) and Tim Arnold (OLD), and then adding in Dan Schwartz (WAR, get it?), the trio has been soothing audiences across the country with their three-part harmonies and acoustic charm since 2008. Fans of the band have been waiting for their third full-length album since June of 2010, and fortunately they have recently announced that their latest record has been completed. I had the opportunity to chat with Dan over the phone this afternoon about everything from the new album to driving their beloved van and everything in between!

CP: Tell me about the new record we’ve all been waiting for!

DS: Yeah! It’s called “Come Back as Rain,” and it’s slated for February 2012 for release.

CP: Where did the title come from?

DS: It was actually the title of a song that Keith wrote a while ago, but it worked so well for this record. It’s like starting over again. You know, rain falls, then it goes up and cycles. I’m not doing a very good job explaining this. I haven’t worked on this one yet. (laughs)

CP: (Laughs) I think our readers will understand. What was the writing process like for this album?

DS: This was a great one to write- everyone really contributed to the writing process. Keith and I used to do all of the writing, but this record we all really wrote together.

CP: Do you guys find that you have one process that you go through, or different ones? Does everyone bring their ideas to the group when they’re still just a framework, or do you bring more fully formed ideas to the table?

DS: It really varies. We try not to repeat ourselves too much. We have a few different processes that really work, but we always mix it up. I really like to write along for the most part, then bring it to the band once I’ve got a good idea of what the song is going to be. Keith actually likes to write using Reason, which is a computer program where he can make drum loops. It’s a really great program because he can just write along to it in the van.

CP: Do you guys often write songs in the van?

DS: Yeah. We actually write in there a lot, and especially now with the computer. I’ve also just found a way to play guitar in the van without really disturbing anyone, so I think we’re going to be writing a whole bunch in the van coming up.

CP: I have to ask. Who drives the van? Tim?

DS: That’s one thing we all share. No one gets out of driving the van. That’s a joy we all have to share.

CP: Sounds like a great thing to share. Everyone gets to join in the misery of driving. (laughs)

DS: (Laughs) I love it! You know, if the worst part about my job is driving the van, I think I’m doing ok.

CP: So true. So how long did it take for you guys to make this record?

DS: I guess we started in the spring, so it was actually really quick. We spent one month in pre-production re-working the songs, making sure the lyrics were exactly how we wanted them. It was really like two and a half months from start to finish going non-stop.

CP: That sounds like a really short process.

DS: I guess it really was. It doesn’t feel that way at the time when you’re doing it non-stop, but yeah. It was really short.

CP: I know you guys have cited Crosby, Stills, & Nash and Simon and Garfunkle as influences. Anyone new influencing or inspiring you lately, or is there someone you guys jam out to in the van?

DS: Oh man, we’re really all over the place. I’m really into Kaizers Orchestra right now. I don’t even think they’ve been to the US yet. They’re this Norweigan band that everyone should listen to because they are so awesome. But yeah, we’re all over the place. Keith loves really great singers like Cole Porter, and Tim really likes everything. He listens to everything from electronica to classical. Usually Tim and Keith find the new stuff, and I stick to what I already know.

CP: So what can we expect to hear on this new record? Is it a big departure from the folky Good Old War we’ve come to know, or is it pretty similar?

DS: I think it’s the classic Good Old War you’ve come to know, just better. We’re always trying to do us better. This one is kind of a party record though. It’s more fun, and it’s really a dance record. You can sing-a-long, and it’s just more fun. It’s still got all the acoustic elements we’re known for, but it’s a little easier to get down to.

CP: So an acoustic dance record in three-part harmony?

DS: Exactly.

CP: Awesome. And will we be hearing some of these new tunes when you guys come to Anthology?

DS: Yeah. I think we’ll be playing probably 4-5 new songs, and then all the old stuff we can fit into our set. It’ll be a good mix of old and new.

CP: As long as you play “Coney Island”, we’ll be all good. It was the first song I heard by you guys.

DS: I think if we didn’t play that song, we’d piss off a lot of people. (Laughs) We’ll definitely be playing that one.

As always, be sure to take a listen to my Spotify playlist of some of my favorite tunes from Good Old War, and don’t miss them at Anthology next week!

Good Old War

WHAT: Good Old War
WHEN: Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 7:00pm
TICKETS: $10-$21 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile