Interview: Good Old War

lauren stern speaks with the Philadelphia alt-rockers …

The first time I heard Good Old War was a little over two years ago. My friend and ex-cohost Erica played their song “Coney Island” on our then-radio show, “Lost in Transmission” on Rutgers University’s 90.3 The Core. My initial thought was, “Wow, they are really good.” I went home and downloaded a few of their songs that night.

I was then fortunate enough to see them at Bamboozle a few months later. They were by far the best band I saw that day. It was then I officially became addicted.

The next time I saw them was over a year later for free in Red Bank, N.J. I got the chance to talk to speak to them, and guitarist Dan Schwartz even took my friend Laura and I’s request for our favorite song “Here Are The Problems.” I was the only one dancing, pretty awfully might I add.

The point of me talking about my experience with Good Old War is not just for the sake of reminiscing. Good Old War is one of my favorite bands because they are the only band that can lift my spirits in a bad mood. They are the only band that can make me get up and dance like a complete idiot, without a care in the world who is watching. I talk about them constantly and play them on my radio show almost every week because I want everyone to experience the feeling I get while listening to their music and that is just pure happiness.

Good Old War just released their new album, Come Back As Rain, on March 6, and it’s absolutely amazing. I got the opportunity to speak to drummer Tim Arnold about this new release, their 2012 touring plans, and more.

Good Old War: Tim Arnold (drums, keyboards, accordion, vocals), Keith Goodwin (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Dan Schwartz (guitar, vocals)

Pop-Break: What makes your new album Come Back As Rain different from your last self-titled album and your first album Only Way To Be Alone?
Tim Arnold: We made this record with our best pal Jason Cupp in a beautiful studio, which switched things up a lot. Jason is a true genius, so he added his magic touch to everything we did. We also really worked together more in the writing process, taking songs apart and rebuilding them together as a unit. Songs would be brought to the table by one person and leave the table written by three people, whereas in the past it was usually Dan or Keith saying, “I got a new song!” and us saying, “Let’s lay it down!” We took a lot of time figuring how to make the songs the best they could possibly be.  
PB: Are there any special guest artists on the new album? If so, who are they?
TA: No guests, but it’s all good.  

PB: With your last self-titled album, I found it very unique that you guys created a short instrumental piece at the beginning, middle, and end of the album — all three named after the band. Are there any distinct elements that fans or new listeners can expect on this new album?
TA: We didn’t really do interludes or anything like that on this record — we just tried to make it flow and be enjoyable based solely on the songs. We even tried to keep the artwork simple.  It’s all about the songs.  
PB: What is the story behind your new single “Calling Me Names”?

TA: Keith and I were working on a couple ideas for beats one day, and there was a groove that he particularly liked, and he wrote a simple progression over it, like a bas line or something.  We were driving around listening to it one day, thinking of possible melodies, and every time I sang this one melody that we both liked, I kept hearing the words “calling me names,” so we wrote around that.  
PB: Good Old War has a pretty extensive spring tour coming up. Are there any specific venues or even places you are excited about?

TA: I’m really excited to play Union Transfer in Philly.  It’s a brand new venue and it’s beautiful. It sounds great too. Going back to omaha will be fun. The new songs were born there. But every city has something wonderful to offer, and I’m excited for all of them.  
PB: I saw that you guys are playing South By Southwest again this year. Who are you most excited to see on this year’s lineup?
TA: The-Dream.  
PB: What was it like touring with Anthony Green for his new album Beautiful Things?
TA: It was so much fun. We love Anthony. We have a blast every time we jam and getting to do it every night for almost two months straight was awesome. We’re old friends, so it’s good to spend time and also good to mix it up every once in a while. We always come back to Good Old War with fresh ears too.

PB: Before Good Old War started, you and Keith were playing in progressive indie rock band called Days Away. Is there ever a chance Days Away will get back together and record new music?
TA: Honestly, probably not, but stranger things have happened.