INTERVIEW: Good Old War chats ‘Only Way to Be Alone’ & playing double duty on tour!
Last Tuesday night was a treat for music fans in Boston when Anthony Green and Good Old War’s tour together came through town. Both acts are celebrating the ten year anniversary of their respective debut records, ‘Avalon’ and ‘Only Way to Be Alone’, and it’s a family tour for the two acts. The first band up is Found Wild which is Keith Goodwin and Tim Arnold of Good Old War who then just a few minutes later come out as GOW with bandmate Dan Schwartz and then return even once more as ¾ of Anthony Green’s live band. The band recorded their debut record the same year that they also recorded on Greens’ ‘Avalon’ so the fans have been singing each set from first to last track.
Despite the band’s busy schedule Tuesday , they still squeezed in some time to sit down with me just before the show started. The band broke down the feelings from where they were when they were recording the first record to how the writing process still continues to grow despite being ten years into being a band. Their chemistry is clear both on and off stage and it was great to see them talk so passionately and lovingly about their time together. With their return to a heavy touring schedule and the new EP, “Part of You”, the band shows no signs of stopping any time soon!
Obviously this tour is a little hectic, I know two of you are playing in all three acts tonight. As well as being Good Old War, you’ve been touring with Anthony Green pretty much since he started playing solo, just as long as the band has been going. You’re both doing a ten year anniversary set on this tour. I know it’s only a few shows in, maybe the preparation for this tour, hopes for this run?
Tim: I just want to kick major butt.
Keith: Yeah I just imagined it being fun.
Dan: It’s just nice to have a group of people that are all friends.
Tim: Yeah it’s a big happy family.
Dan: Everybody knows each other already so it’s very relaxed I’d say. Even though it’s busy, it’s relaxed some how. Just want to play awesome each night. That’s our goal really, just play great.
Then like I keep saying, this is the ten year anniversary tour of the debut record, the record you’re playing in full tonight. The band has going pretty consistently since then, I know it’s been a return to heavy touring as of these past few years. Looking back on this record, something you really remember from this writing process? I know it was really quick for you guys. Maybe something you’ve learned from being a band over the years that you would have wanted to know then, when you were making the first record? Maybe a big moment for you that you remember from making that record?
Dan: I remember very clearly writing this record and I remember us just spending a lot of time at each other’s houses. Just hanging out and enjoying making music. We didn’t know what we were going to do with it at all. It was kind of exciting just being in a new band and writing songs. Writing every song and being like ‘well that’s what we’re going to sound like’. It was exciting just sort of discovering. I remember, Keith was going on his honeymoon, and Tim and I both learned how to play two instruments at once which was a fun experience. We were like, okay this is our chance to learn how to play two guitars at once and Tim was playing keyboards and drums at the same time.
Tim : But it was cool though, we wanted to keep it small. We wanted to keep it just a tight knit group. We’d all came from bands where like if we needed instrumentation, we just got the people to do it. But this was something where we set limitations and we framed it some way that forced us to create. It being just the three of us was the mother of invention. It kind of forced us to create a sound and to branch out.
Keith: Push ourselves.
Tim: Yeah but also at the same time to keep it simple too. It was so simple that we could do multiple things at once. Like I could play a beat and a bass line at the same time while he (Dan) plays guitar. Switches from that guitar to the electric guitar. We’re all singing at the same time and we’re creating this big sound with just three people. How do you do that with just three people?
Dan: And acoustic instruments. I remember too learning that we could sing together. Everything was learned all at the same time we were making this record. It’s exciting to think about, to play these songs now. And also, so many of the songs are songs that we still play all the time. Which shows that we felt like we knew what we were doing right off the bat.
Tim: Yeah these songs are just all well oiled machines at this point, just like we are. It’s just Good Old War man, there’s no guessing at this point. We know it so well, that we can play it with our eyes closed.
Dan: As we do! Keith always does.
Then like you said, you’re still playing some of these songs off the record. I know tonight, you play it front to back. You guys have been playing together for so long, you’ve also been playing for Anthony just as long so it’s clear chemistry. You just put out “Part of You”, the new EP. Do you think the writing process still changes at all or do you think it’s a pretty steady rhythm? You’ve released so many albums as Good Old War.
Dan: Oh it’s always changing. It’s always becoming more collaborative as it goes on. I think when we started, we were all kind of bringing in close to fully formed songs and now even if that is the case, we always run through it with everybody before the song is done. We know what each other can add to stuff which is nice but at the same time we trust that the other guys are going to make the song better. In a way that we maybe didn’t know when we first started.
Tim: I’d say like backtracking a little bit too, we’ve played all these songs a million times but there are songs from that record that we’ve never played live. ‘Stay by My Side’, we never have played it live so it’s kind of fun to do that finally every single night. There are certain tunes that we just never play which is cool. Again, we’re forced to play these things. We’re forced to figure it out then you get comfortable.
In practicing them, you’re getting this chance to flash back to the times of recording that first album, it’s great.
Dan: I wish all of our albums were our first album so we can play them on a ten year tour. Because it’s really fun to play a whole record. Because it shows you where your mind was at, what you were thinking at the time. You really can kind of see what you were doing at that moment. It’s exciting.
Tim: It is! It’s nostalgic.
Then over the years, I’ve covered the band when you were on your own tours, when you were playing as Anthony’s band. At Anthony tours, kids are always yelling ‘Good Old War, Good Old War’ and I remember one time Anthony being like ‘You don’t get two bands for one’. So maybe how is it to be on this tour? You play as Good Old War then come out minutes later to play as Anthony’s band. The fans are a little bit different. I’m sure you have these dedicated Good Old War fans, you have fans of Anthony who maybe don’t know you guys.
Tim: They all kind of meet in the middle. Our first tour was with Anthony and I think a lot of people found out about us and stuck with us from that first experience. I think a lot of the people do know who we are.
Keith: And they like both of us. It’s pretty cool. We are different but for some reason they appreciate both.
Tim: It’s been really cool. Over the past few nights, it’s been awesome to see it, they really do sing every word from the beginning of our set to the end of Anthony’s set. You’re seeing a room full of people that knows every word to every song and it’s like thirty songs! Maybe not thirty, I’m exaggerating, but it’s a lot of songs. It just shows that we’re part of something really special and a good moment. We’re all ready to put something out and it’s exciting in that way. We’ve been a band for a long time and shows can be hit or miss but Anthony’s fans are so enthusiastic and they’re so ready to enjoy it and sing along. It’s exciting from the moment we hit the stage. We don’t have to earn it. We can just go out there and have a good time and the fans are excited about it.
Then like I said, “Part of You” only came out earlier this year. The band has really been back on it, consistently touring, you were just here in March I believe with Justin Nozuka. Maybe the focus or goals for these next few months? Is it something where a full length is in the future? EP’s are becoming the route lately. Maybe the plans if you can say anything over these next few months once this tour ends with Anthony.
Keith: We’re going to do one more EP and then compile them all into one format, probably an LP. Then after that, who knows? Maybe another LP, we haven’t really discussed that far.
Dan: We’re going to be touring through out the end of the year. Putting out more music. We have another one done pretty much. Basically just trying to continue being a band, as long as people will let us. That’s the goal. Just stay doing this as long as we can.