Like a brisk Autumn day, Good Old War seem to transform the world around them into an enchanting place. The acoustic folk rock trio, comprised of Keith Goodwin, Tim Arnold and Dan Schwartz, are artistic and genuine musicians. Their music is at times can be blissfully honest and joyfully sincere in a natural kind of way.
After releasing their debut last year, the band has been busy capturing the hearts and ears of fans on tour and going through the life of a musician as a new musical entity. Guitarist Dan Schwartz took the opportunity to let us know more about Good Old War and what they have in store for the world in the near future.
A lot of people don’t know, but you guys were first known as Castles. Why the name change?
Castles was definitely a name we settled on. We were having a really hard time picking a good name for our band. Tim and Keith’s girlfriends were trying to come up with a name that included all of our names, so they said how about Good for Keith “Good”win, Old for Tim Arn”Old,” and War for Dan Sch”War”tz. We thought it was pretty clever and it worked, so we went with that.
Do you think the name Good Old War is also a neat way to describe how peaceful your music sounds?
Maybe. We really wanted a name that would be pretty different, but still have the flavor of the bands we love and look up to to. Many of our bigger influences have their names as their band name. Like Simon and Garfunkel, or Crosby Stills and Nash. So if it does describe our music well and suits us then we were going to feel comfortable with it as a name.
What’s the meaning behind your last album’s title, Only Way To be Alone?
The title is a lyric from the song “Window” on the album. We were thinking that this album and band was a way for us to finally express ourselves individually and as a unit, and away from from all of the outside sources of negativity. We all left band situations that were somewhat stifling. We found that we were able to really do what we each did best with the help of each other.
The music arrangements and lyrics that drive Only Way To Be Alone are sincere and pleasing to ear. Who influenced you guys during the writing and recording process?
Well the recording process was so fast, I think that was just going on instinct. But while we were writing, we listened to a lot of bands that used harmony as a centerpiece for their sound, so we started doing the same. Bands like the Zombies, CSN, Simon and Garfunkle, Harry Nilsson, and lots of world music and reggae.
As a three-piece, how does the writing process work?
Keith and I write all the songs. Mostly individually, but sometimes we work together. Maybe I’ll have a full song with no vocals and he’ll write that, or I’ll add a part to a song he has finished. Either way, we take our finished songs and then hash them out as a unit. They very often take on a new life once we all get together to work them out.
Do you guys prefer the softer and more joyful sound that Good Old War emits?
Well, we do want to make people feel good.
Can fans expect a somewhat different or even louder sound in the future?
We will be changing, I’m sure. But the harmonies will always be a huge part of our sound, as will acoustic guitars.
Despite being known before the band started, do you think it can be tough to start a folk rock group in today’s music world?
I think it can be tough for a band in general to get started these days. It’s really hard to get heard and you really need a great team behind you if you’re gonna get out there. God bless Cathy Pellow (manager/head of Sargent House) for being so ridiculously there for us.
Since your fan base is constantly growing, will you continue to work with Anthony Green for his solo career or will you be focusing more on Good Old War?
If Anthony ever has something to do and we can make it, I’m sure we’ll be there. Anthony is one of all of our best friends, and we love his music. But he’s back with Circa Survive right now, and we’re working super-hard on our own thing, so there’s nothing planned at all.
How was touring and working with Anthony Green over the past year?
It’s been amazing! Anthony is a true artist, and we say he’s the most punk rock dude we’ve ever met. He’s the type of guy who changes everything at the last possible second. Sometimes he’ll play a song completely differently after doing it the same way all tour. We learned so much about being a good support for him so he could be free to change his mind at any point. It was great for us, because we’re a band that rehearses constantly and knows exactly how it’s gonna go up there and in the studio. I think we both rubbed off on each other in a lot of great ways.
Are there any other musicians you guys hope to work with in the future? A female voice would sound quite lovely.
We worked with Alison and Claire Wadsworth on the last record. The song “Stay By My Side” has their lovely voices on it. We’re really working on our sound alone right now, but they will most likely sing with us again. We also have dreams of pedal steel, so that might pop up sometime as well.
There’s talk about you guys recording a new EP. How has that been going and when can fans expect to snag it off the shelves?
Yeah, we just got back from a three-week excursion to the woods where we recorded a lot of songs and lived off the land a bit. It went incredibly well, and we should have a finished EP on the shelves within the next few months.
What kind of sound does the new EP have?
It’s got a lot of new things for us in the way of songwriting and arrangements. Definitely a more upbeat sound overall, but there’s still some songs on the softer side. We recorded and produced it ourselves, so it might be a bit less polished. Maybe not, it’s hard to say. We’re not quite finished with it.
Does the new album have a name yet?
Tentatively, it’s called Saw Creek, which is where we recorded it. We recorded 16 songs and narrowed it down to a 6 song EP.
If you were to describe the album as a story, what would it be about?
It’s always about action/reaction for us. Keith and I both write about situations that happen and the aftermath of those circumstances.
Fans got a treat with singer Anthony Green making a guest appearance on the track “Weak Man”. Can we expect any guest appearances on the new record?
Not as of yet, but we’ll see.
Do you guys have any plans on playing a few shows in Canada this year?
Hope so! There was a Canadian tour in the works that fell through, so we’ll see.
What is one thing you think Good Old War has accomplished over the past year?
Being able to become self sufficient, and at the same time, build an unbelievable team of people who put so much hard work into our band. We are really blessed by great friends and family. That, and being able to quit our jobs.