Folk Music Looking Forward

Short Interview with Good Old War

Dan and Keith of Good Old War (Credit: Shane Timm)

Good Old War are a folk-pop band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that place melody and competent songwriting at the heart of the classic, two-guys-with-guitars shtick. They were initially founded in 2008 by Keith Goodwin on vocals, guitar, and keys; Dan Schwartz on guitar and vocals; and Tim Arnold on drums, keys, accordion, and vocals — however, Tim left the band in 2014.

Since their inception, Good Old War has released four LPs, starting with Only Way to Be Alone (2009) and ending with their latest, Broken Into Better Shape (2015).

Cover art for each of Good Old War’s four LPs (Source: GoodOldWar.com)

Only Way to Be Alone features a stripped-down style accompanied by the band’s sweet vocal harmonies. One example is their fan-loved song “Coney Island” about the paradoxical love/hate relationship with one’s hometown.

Music video for Good Old War’s song “Coney Island” from their LP Only Way to Be Alone (Source: Good Old War/YouTube)

In comparison, Broken Into Better Shape features a fuller but poppier sound. A sample song is the single “Tell Me What You Want From Me” about wanting to the thoughts of the other in order to avoid heartbreak. Not to mention, the music video features vaporizing clowns. (That’s a good thing, right?)

Music video for Good Old War’s song “Tell Me What You Want From Me” from their LP Broken Into Better Shape (Source: Good Old War/YouTube)

Despite their increasing success, Good Old War are still two normal-yet-quirky humans. Dan describes himself as a “music-obsessed Sagittarius with a bike riding habit the size of Philadelphia,” and Keith is the proud owner of a cat named King and a dog named Jet.

For fans of artists like Anthony Green and The Format, classic acts like Simon and Garfunkel, or current friends and fans of Good Old War looking to learn more, it is wonderful to say that Dan and Keith were generous enough to answer nine short-interview questions via Email about their beginning, influences, and memorable experiences:

1) For those who know nothing about Good Old War, could you explain how Good Old War was born? And where did the band name come from?

Dan

We were connected by mutual friends and soon started playing in each other’s bands. We soon realized that we had a special connection and singing together was a key part of that.

Our friend Anthony Green had a tour booked and let us open for him before we even had a name. We were so lucky. Our name comes from a bit of our last names: GOODwin arnOLD schWARtz.

2) What do you consider your musical and lyrical influences? More importantly, how have they influenced you?

Dan

This is a really tough one to answer. It’s not really that simple because since the very first day, our influences were really wide ranging and ever changing. We find things in just about everything we listen to that inspires us. It’s the beauty of music. Really, we make what we make as a reaction to things that are going on in our lives. It just happens that we use acoustic guitars and harmonies as our main instruments so that draws parallels to a lot of more throwback acts.

We love being compared to Crosby, Stills and Nash or Simon and Garfunkel of course. It’s a huge compliment, but we are also always looking forward and finding new influences everyday.

3) How has your experience been making a living/money from music?

Keith

Being able to make a living doing what you love is a dream come true.

Nothing better than being able to play all day and getting paid for it. But seriously, we work hard and and the real payoff is being able to continue making music.

4) What was the musical inspiration for the song “Broken Into Better Shape” off your latest record? What was the lyrical inspiration?

Keith

A great friend said to us “I’m one mistake away from losing everything.”

It was sad to hear that coming from someone we love. He was in a tough place and we wanted to write a song from his perspective of what we hoped he’d be saying in the future.

5) Who created the cover art for Broken Into Better Shape? Is there a concept/theme behind it that connects to the rest of the record?

Keith

Our friend Chris Hainey is the genius who took those beautiful pictures. We told him the title, gave him the record and he ran with it.

6) How do you view your relationship with fans? What are ways you like to connect with fans, and do you have a memorable experience with a fan you would like to share?

Dan

We have an incredibly special and rare connection with our fans that we are so lucky to have. I hesitate to even call them “fans” as much as “friends.” We have never played a show where we didn’t go out and have a bunch of great conversations with people and we feel like they are a great representation of what we’ve tried to do as a band. It ranges from babies to older adults to whole families and everything in between.

The coolest fan experience I can think of is writing a song through the website, Mashable, with lyrics sent in by our fans. Then we invited them to a show on a rooftop in NYC and performed it for them. That was a truly magical experience.

The roof-top performance of their fan-written song made from fans’ Tweets (Source: Good Old War/Mashable)

7) What has been your favorite thing about touring/playing shows? What has been your least favorite thing about touring/playing shows? And is there a memorable experience from a show you’d like to share?

Dan

I think the opportunity to go all around the world and get a chance to play music every single day. We just want to get as good as we can possibly get. The best way to do that is to do it all the time. There are too many incredible experiences we’ve had to count but I think the main thing is that every night we get to look out and see so many people smiling and singing along with us.

The music has helped people through so many things, from studying for finals to beating cancer. Honestly, it’s just overwhelming how lucky we feel.

8) What record of yours are you most proud of and what record seems to be the fan-favorite? What is the reason behind both?

Dan

That’s a tough one.

Each record has it’s special moments and they all have their fans. I am always most proud of the last one we created because it’s always a step-up from the one before it.

The first record was great because it was exactly what we sounded like right when we started and it was basically recorded live. The second one was a beautiful experience because we did it ourselves in a rented house in the mountains and really learned how to be a band. Come Back as Rain is another album that captures the band really live. We had toured a ton by then and were really tight and it shows. Broken into Better Shape is our most well-rounded album and we feel like it has our best and most complete songs on it.

9) Lastly, what advice would you give a young artist like you just starting out today?

Keith

Work really hard. Try every idea. Surround yourself with people who share and respect your vision. Practice all of the time.

If you liked the article then hit the ❤ button, and, if you want to support and learn more about Good Old War, then check out the links below!

You can buy and listen to their music on Bandcamp here.

For news about new music, tour dates, and merch check out their website here.

Like their page on Facebook here.

Follow them on Twitter here.

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