Doylestown natives Keith Goodwin, Dan Schwartz, and Tim Arnold combined bits and pieces of their last names with each of their individual unique musical talents to create indie folk band Good Old War. With such a clever naming process, it makes sense to expect clever and meaningful lyrics from these three men, as well.
“Keith’s wife came up with the idea of the name, so it doesn’t always really work the same way. Maybe we should field our lyrics with her first. I’ll have to ask the guys about that plan,” Arnold, drummer and one third of the vocals for the band, explains. “The writing process always starts out as a personal thing…” he continues on to say. Lyrics are never just left up to one person in the band, though. “…And then they get laid out in front of everyone to gaze over and stew on and perhaps even make some of their own changes until we are all happy and satisfied with what ends up being said.”
The band’s third album, Come Back as Rain, was released March 2012. “This album was definitely different than the past two in many ways.” Arnold tells. “We hired Jason Cupp who has been working with the band since the first demos and engineers our sound live so he knows us well enough to not make some bogus mistake. He’s also an amazing producer with a great ear, so he helped us make the record sound good and help us create songs that make sense.”
Not only were there some new people working with the album, but Arnold discusses that the guys also recorded in a new location.
“We made it in a nice big studio in Omaha which was a change- having all the toys and gadgets and space and time to make something we could all agree on and be stoked about. Again, it’s a very collaborative process when it comes down to it.”
Since the release of the new album, the band has released videos for two of the new songs. The first being for “Calling Me Names,” the album’s first single. And the second being “Amazing Eyes.” Peyton List, who plays Jane Sterling in the popular AMC series Mad Men, starred in the video for “Amazing Eyes.” Arnold has some big aspirations for other possible video stars in the future.
“I think the next video we make should have a bunch of stars in it. I am thinking the entire cast of Step by Step. Really anyone from TGIF back in the nineties.”
Working with List most definitely has not been Good Old War’s only recent brush with the stars. In the past year, they have performed on the Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel shows and have been received extremely well both times.
Not only are these three hometown heroes mingling with the stars; they have also been almost constantly recording and touring since 2008, with what seems like barely any down time.
“Keith just had a child so his time is spent slightly differently than the rest of us, but to be honest we don’t ever really allow ourselves much downtime when we are off the road. We practice all the time, gearing up for the next tour or writing for the next record. No rest for the weary.” Arnold says.
But touring is not just what these men do for a living, it’s their life’s passion.
“Playing every night is great for your chops and the exposure is necessary when trying to build a band,” Arnold begins to explain. “Seeing different places is great and for me at least, it’s almost like some primal need to move all the time. I can not even sit still for more than a minute so touring suits me just fine.”
Some breaks are obviously necessary, though.
“The negative aspects are just basically after a really long tour where you are constantly moving from one place to the next every day and all you want to do is go home and not travel for at least a week. Towards the end of most really long tours all we think about is getting home and being still for a bit.”
Touring is bound to be enjoyable not only because it’s their passion, but also because the band always seems to find themselves in great company while on the road. “An artist is nothing without art,” Arnold says, and he certainly knows a lot about artists. Good Old War recently toured with Counting Crows, have spent lots of time touring with fellow Philly local and close friend of theirs, Anthony Green, and have shows coming up with Dispatch, NEEDTOBREATHE, and Xavier Rudd.
“We have been extremely lucky when it comes to bands and people we have worked with. Almost every band we have ever toured with we have gotten along with and learned from each other and really had a genuine good time,” Arnold explains.
They’ve had such good times that they would love to tour more with some people they have spent time with in the past. Arnold reminisces fondly about his touring buddies from the past, “I think touring a bit more with Dr. Dog or Maps and Atlases would be great just because we have not really toured extensively with either of them and miss them a lot.”
Although they love touring there is, of course, a soft spot in their hearts for Philly and all it has to offer. Being Doylestown natives left them spending lots of time in Philadelphia throughout their lives. Having the advantage of knowing the city, they know exactly what to do and where to go when they find themselves with time to spare in Philadelphia.
“I love riding my bike all over town, and it’s also a great walking city,” Arnold says. “My favorite lunch spot is probably Cafe Lutecia on 23rd and Lombard. To pick a favorite bar would be too hard. My drinking habits take me anywhere from McGlinchy’s to The Pope.”
Being local, the band also knows a lot about the Philadelphia venues both as spectators and entertainers. So, playing at these places is more than just another performance. Arnold weighs in on one of Philly’s newest venues, Union Transfer. Seeing as it used to be the Spaghetti Warehouse, many people had already been in the building, but never expecting a great show.
“Union Transfer is brand new so I have not gotten to see many shows there, but it’s really beautiful and sounds great. It just might be my favorite venue in Philly at the moment.”
The band also has an upcoming show with Dispatch at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, another very notable venue in the area.
“Playing the Tower is going to be very surreal and fantastic,” Arnold discusses excitedly. Not only is it the venue that introduced America to David Bowie, Genesis, and Peter Gabriel, but the Tower Theater has also been played by Jerry Garcia, Paul Simon, and many other incredibly phenomenal acts. “It is such a legendary theater and to play that stage will be blissful,” Arnold predicts.
Arnold offers some words of great wisdom and smart advice to other locals trying to make a name for themselves.
“Practice all the time and make sure you do not limit yourself to just playing shows in Philly. Try not to over saturate the market. Get out on the road and then when you come back home it will be more special,” Arnold says. “Also, really try to figure out a band sound. Make sure everyone in the band is on the same page so that you are always moving in the same direction.”
Finally, Arnold gives one last word to the wise, “Bottom line is that you have to work your ass off. For real.”
Good Old War will be touring the United States and Canada for the next few months. They’ll be in the area on October 9th at the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby.
Written by: Emily Meenan