In the past few years the music industry has been bombarded with up-and-coming artists who aspire to be independent: free from the commercialism that is often affiliated with major labels. The term “indie band” has been flung around like chewing tobacco at a NASCAR race, and, in turn, the true meaning of an indie band has become lost in translation.
However, one progressive rock trio, Good Old War, has managed to stand out in a sea of indie mediocrity, and that trio is coming to the Orpheum next week.
The band is named for a portion of each of its members’ last names: Keith Goodwin, Tim Arnold and Dan Schwartz. The Philadelphia-based group is composed of two of the members from the experimental indie rock band Days Away who recently went on a hiatus that became permanent.
Arnold, the drummer, and Goodwin, the guitarist, approached their Days Away indie label Sargent House with the idea for a folk rock trio. They then called up longtime pal and guitarist Schwartz, and Good Old War was born.
The band’s debut album, Only Way To Be Alone, is a blend of indie rock and old school folk brimming with ’60s-style harmonies.
Schwartz, the soft-spoken lead guitarist and vocalist, said he believes that less is more when it comes to good folk music.
“I think the simplicity of the band is one of our biggest appeals. There are only three of us and we all have been good friends for a long time. Keith and Tim played together in Days Away and have been friends since they were kids,” he said. “I met the guys a few years back and when Days Away broke up it was only natural that the three of us start recording together.”
There are a lot of bands doing the indie-folk thing right now, but Good Old War has something most do not: All of its members have vocals on the album, which results in a sterling blend of New Age progressive rock with old school harmonies, melodies and songwriting.
At first listen, the track “Windows” from their new album is uncannily similar to the classic “Because” by The Beatles.
“The Beatles are a huge inspiration for us. Back in the day harmonizing is just whatmusicians did — it was the heart and soul of music,” Schwartz said. “We are definitely more influenced by the older bands with simple melodies and harmonies and, of course, good song writing.”
Good Old War was also inspired by The Kinks and Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young), a folk rock group.
The fact that the band members are all friends first makes the creative process of writing and composing songs much smoother, Schwartz said.
“Keith and I write all the songs. The songwriting process is different every time. We are all very involved in arrangements,” he said. “Keith will make a melody for something I wrote and vice versa.”
The collaboration on tracks featuring simple acoustics and production may be the driving force behind the band’s rapidly growing success.
The band has sold out numerous shows on its nationwide tour, according to the trio’s official Web site, goodoldwar.com.
Good Old War will be hitting the Orpheum in Ybor City on Sept. 2, along with Circa Survive’s Anthony Green and fellow indie rockers Person L. Tickets are $12. To listen to new tracks off of their debut album, go to myspace.com/goodoldwar.