by Dana Schwartz
Fresh off the release of the first of three EP’s set to come out this summer, Philly’s very own Good Old War will take the stage on Thursday, August 3rd for a show you don’t want to miss! We conducted an interview with the band members to help you get to know more about these talented musicians.
What is your creative process like for writing songs, and how has your dynamic as a group evolved since the release of your first album, Only Way to Be Alone?
Dan Schwartz: We almost always start with an idea one of us has brought in in various stages of completion. Usually Keith or I will have a song in the works and then we flesh it out together. We’ve always felt that the music comes out better when everyone in the band is a part of its creation. I’d say more than anything, we’ve gotten better and better at helping each other realize songs that have been brought in.
Keith Goodwin: When we made Only Way to Be Alone, Good Old War and Come Back as Rain, Dan and I brought in complete songs and we would make minor changes to them together with the exception of a handful of songs we wrote together.
During the writing process for “Broken Into Better Shape” the label asked us to work with some outside writers. Being in a room with other talented songwriters helped us realize our individual strong suits and where we could use a little help.
Since then everything we’ve been writing has been much more collaborative from the very beginning of the writing process. We are way more open to taking ideas to new places and trying any idea to get to the best version of the song.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Dan: Yeah, we always huddle up and just put our heads together and say this thing, “toi toi,” which is something Tim’s sister told us is an opera thing. I’m not even sure if it is but we’ve been saying it for so long that it would be impossible to play a show without saying it. It would be like going out the door without your pants on or something.
You guys have toured alongside diverse artists such as Alison Krauss, Guster, Brandi Carlile, and Dr. Dog! What were some of the highlights, and do you have any other artists you aspire to perform with?
Dan: Every tour has its highlights and we’ve been so lucky to tour with such incredible and diverse acts. Dr. Dog has been one of our favorite bands since Easy Beat and we’ve always thought of them as one of the best bands in the world. we would just watch their soundcheck in awe. Alison Krauss was incredibly professional and we basically went to school on that tour, both musically and how to be a pro act. Brandi and her band are the kindest people and treated us so warmly. Her fans are just unreal as well. I’d say the same for Guster, who we’ve had the opportunity to tour with more than once. They just rule. I’d personally do anything to tour with Punch Brothers. They are the greatest live band I’ve ever seen.
Keith: Dr. Dog makes killer Matte in a cooler they call Matte Man.
On the first day of tour with Brandi she came into our dressing room while we were huddled up singing through some songs and she listened for a while and hung out like we’ve known each other forever. That really made us feel welcomed and comfortable right away.
I have a vivid memory of being in Boise Idaho with Alison Krauss. We were soundchecking our song Window and at the end when the drums kick in I looked out into the yard and Alison was horse galloping across the field in front of the stage and doing twirls. Meanwhile Dan Tyminski was watching from stage left and Ron Block was on stage jamming along with his banjo. Also on the last night Jerry Douglas came out during our set and ripped an awesome solo over our song Loud Love.
All of the guys from Guster gave me great advice on fatherhood when I was about to have my first son Louis.
Would love to tour with Dawes, Lucius and so many more.
Speaking of touring, you played some shows in Europe for the first time last year! Did the crowds there differ from those in the US, and did your experiences abroad have any impact on your new music?
Dan: The crowds were great. We were opening for Brian Fallon who was the lead singer for Gaslight Anthem. They were one of the first bands to take us out on a long tour and we’ve always loved those guys. My only wish is that we could have gone out there full band and shown them what we were made of. We played acoustic, just Keith and I-which was great but without Tim on drums and vocals it felt like we were missing a crucial element of our band. Now that Tim’s back, I can’t wait to get back out there and rock again.
As Philly natives, you have witnessed the changes and growth of the music scene here over the past few years. How do you feel about the current state of the Philly music scene and where do you see it going?
Dan: I’m not totally sure we’re qualified to say. I’d love to say we grew out of the scene here but we basically started out as a touring act and have continued that path the whole time we’ve been around. That said, I absolutely love the bands I see coming up. The Districts are obviously amazing, as well as the Lawsuits, Levee Drivers, Ali Wadsworth and I used to be in a band together and she’s got the kind of voice that stops you in your tracks. I hope that Philly can become the kind of place where you can rise to the top of the scene and break out nationally. We certainly have enough talent going around for labels to start to take notice.
What is your favorite song to perform live?
Dan: That changes all the time. Obviously playing the songs people know best and sing every word to are always going to be a blast because you see joy in a crowd. But also getting to play a song with such great players as Tim and Keith can make lesser known songs incredibly fun to play. We have a song called Woodies Hood Boogie Woogie that’s like that. It’s just so fun to be in a band with these guys and that song shows some of our best elements. Three part harmony the whole time, a rockin beat, a drum solo, an electric guitar solo and 12 string. Plus Keith’s lyrics are awesome. It’s just the kind of thing that is so uniquely us.
Keith: I really love playing Amazing Eyes. It feels so good to sing it.
Where’s your favorite place to grab coffee?
Dan: Milkcrate Cafe on Girard! It’s the best. Plus it’s a record store!