Good Old War aren't one of those acoustic groups that simply moved their campfire jamming to the stage. The Philadelphia trio began when the band Days Away decided to take a break from prog-inflected indie rock. Guitarist Keith Goodwin and drummer Tim Arnold teamed up with another guitar-playing friend, Dan Schwartz of Unlikely Cowboy, dusted off their vocal cords, and began harmonizing. Adding some keyboards and a smattering of accordion, they found the perfect formula for sharing their musical vision.
Good Old War return to Madison with a Sept. 9 show at the Barrymore. I recently spoke with Arnold about the band's new, self-titled album and what it was like to experience Madison for the first time.
How does Philadelphia shape the music you make?
I think our surroundings affect us a lot, maybe more than we actually realize. If we all grew up on the beach or in a place with an extremely different climate, our sound would be different. We don't have palm trees; we have oak trees, so we write about oak trees. Philly has a rich tradition of good music. It's got soul. Maybe subconsciously we inject that influence into our sound.
Tell me a bit about making Good Old War.
We decided to make it on our own. We isolated ourselves in a house in the Poconos Mountains: snow everywhere, turkeys, deer, ramen, a bunch of microphones, all the instruments we could find, a lot of duct tape, an amazing tub and three dirty dudes. It was a great way to not only completely submerge yourself in the music but to really collaborate on an intense, family-style level. A pipe burst underneath the house and we didn't have water for three days and had to boil snow to drink water. Brutal.
What do you remember most about Madison?
What struck me most is the fact that it was actually a pretty hip town. I'm not trying to sound snooty or pretentious. It's just where we come from, you don't hear "Wisconsin" and think "I need to go there." Turns out you do, because everyone we've met there is awesome, and it's beautiful. Go Madison!