Feature / Interviews
Good Old War

Words: Michael • October 16, 2010

Scene Point Blank: You recently started playing a new song live. For the new song Tim plays the accordion. Was the song written before or after the idea of using the accordion came up?

Dan Schwartz: We actually had finished our whole new EP and were getting ready to mix the record. And he was given an accordion as a gift and he just started playing it. And he's a natural at it? [Laughing]. He works his ass off. But yeah, we thought it was perfect and put it on that song.

Scene Point Blank: Is this something you plan to experiment with more in the future - non-traditional instrumentation?

Dan Schwartz: Yeah. Always. With just the three of us, we're doing so many things. But we have to be able to do it live. We do as little that we can't do live on record. For instance I have I have the guitar on the stand and Tim plays keys and drums at the same time. We're trying do as many things as we can to compliment that we are just an acoustic guitar and voices. Anything we can do to keep growing it and keep it from getting stagnant we'll do. Anything to find new ways of arranging things.

Scene Point Blank: When can we see its release?

Dan Schwartz: Hoping in the next couple of months.

Scene Point Blank: Something that I found intriguing about Good Old War is that all three members share in the vocal duties?

Dan Schwartz: I think Keith does all the leads?

Scene Point Blank: I dunno, there are spots where you take the lead, even if it is for only a couple of lines.

Dan Schwartz: On the new record we tried to get Tim and my voices in there a little more.

Scene Point Blank: How do you divide who sings what?

Dan Schwartz: Well we start with a song and its pretty much fifty/fifty half my songs and half Keith's songs. I'll teach him my songs or he'll teach me his. When I teach him my songs, I always give him the leads. The part that I write is the part that I give him to sing. And when he gives me his songs, I'm lucky enough because I get to fuck with it. He basically gives me a shell of something and says do something crazy. I love playing with his songs. We always start with Keith with the lead vocals and try to branch out from there. We sing and talk it out. It's just a lot of rehearsal.

Scene Point Blank: The layering of vocals gives it a folk sound, it's very iconic and reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel, which plays into the crossover appeal.

Dan Schwartz: Yeah, I think that's the cool thing. The way that it works, we can play any of the songs. And that's the point of the band, to play with just an acoustic. We can do that with every single one of our songs. From there? then, how do you make it cool and interesting? It's just that whole idea of dragging in loads of gear. We've done a bunch of shows where the steps were too much or it was snowing and we'd just decide, "Let's just use the acoustic guitar." And it worked so?

Scene Point Blank: And I think that's cool because you have that unique experience, Like tonight with all three of you up front singing along together. People remember that. The audience will take that away from the night saying, "That band did so many different things."

Scene Point Blank: You kind of touched on it before but what's the writing process like for the band?

Dan Schwartz: Keith and I write all the songs. There are different combinations of that with each of us trying to please each other and surprise each other. We've got a really good friendly competition and we respect each other. The coolest thing is making it sound like it could have been written by each other. And I think the only way that someone might be able to figure it out would be to really pay attention to the lyrics. But there are different certain themes that I would touch on that maybe he wouldn't'. And again, there are the strange times when we would write songs for each other, like "Maybe Mine" on the first record. I wrote the music, and he wrote the lyrics. He wrote the lyrics about a situation that I was in. So that might be confusing.

Scene Point Blank: You've got an interesting mix of other sounds within your music - rock, folk, bluegrass, and country. What are you main influences as songwriters?

Dan Schwartz: Just the music man. Just listening to everything. There are obviously musically influences, and certain ones specifically. But it's the music and the feeling. I know that might sound a little pretentious, but Keith and I sit down and we both talk about what the feeling is when we're writing. Naturally, we come from a certain background, so there's going to be a folky feeling. But whatever we're going through at that time, that's what's going to be the main inspiration. Most of the time, it's really just the feeling. That's why I love he Gaslight Anthem; you can tell that he really felt something when he was writing those songs. Even if they are stories that are made up, he had this feeling and he found a way to say it. And that's a great songwriting. And that's what we strive to be, to write songs that can be universal. If we're doing it well, we're happy. I don't know if we are doing it all the time, but we're trying to.

Scene Point Blank: What's the future with your being the backing band for Anthony Green? Will you continue to do so or is that something that has passed now that you've seen more success?

Dan Schwartz: We made the deal that we'd be his band if he should call us. And we love him and he's one of our best friends. And we'd love to do a record where we really are a part of the process with him. A lot of those songs on the record were songs that were really his. His heart went into that record. He put so much into and so many years of work. We really just came in at the end and threw a couple things down. What we did, we're so happy with and we loved the opportunity. But in the future if we could really get down to some brass tacks with him, that'd be sweet. But for the immediate future we don't see that happening any time soon, with Circa Survive writing a new record and with us having the new record and the touring that will follow for both of us. But you never know. You can always fit stuff in. You just figure out a way.

Scene Point Blank: After the tour with The Gaslight Anthem ends, what are the band's plans?

Dan Schwartz: The new record will be out soon and then more touring. I'm not exactly sure what we have on the horizons, but whatever it is we'll try and let everyone know. But I'd be surprised if we go home much at all this year.

Scene Point Blank: Anything else to add?

Dan Schwartz: Just thank you for you interview. We appreciate it.

Words: Michael | Graphics: Matt

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