Back to their roots

Bucks band Good Old War is reconnecting with its acoustic sound on the upcoming EP Part of Me, available Sept. 1

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

It’s been nearly a decade since the chilling acoustic folk sounds of Good Old War were introduced to the world with the album Only Way To Be Alone. Since its release, life has been a rollercoaster for the band with the trio temporarily becoming a duo and the experimentation of a new sound. But this year, things have come full circle. With its original lineup restored and upcoming EP Part of Me out Sept. 1, Good Old War is ready to get back to its musical roots.

Sounds of success: Good Old War, which consists of (from left) Tim Arnold, Dan Schwartz and Keith Goodwin, is set to release the EP Part Of Me on Sept. 1 as part of a three-part series. PHOTO: Dylan Eddinger

Formed from the bonds of friendship, Good Old War consists of Langhorne’s Keith Goodwin on vocals, guitar and keys, Dan Schwartz on guitar and vocals and Maple Point’s Tim Arnold on drums, keys, accordion and vocals.

After graduating from high school, Goodwin and Arnold joined a band called Days Away, which had a contract with Atlantic Records. Reflecting on the experience, Goodwin explained how all the members were young and wanted different things, so the band soon dissolved. However, the band’s label and manager saw a special dynamic between Goodwin and Arnold and wanted to help them kick off another project. Around the same time, the two met Schwartz through mutual friends. They immediately clicked and got him on board for the band.

With its lineup solidified, Good Old War still needed to find its sound. During a set at a local bar in Newtown, the members truly discovered their strengths. While performing classic rock covers from artists such as Paul Simon, they realized how perfectly all of their voices meshed.

“The wheels started turning,” Goodwin said.

He and his bandmates taught themselves how to write harmonies, and the acoustic sound fans have come to know started to take shape.

Over the next several years, Good Old War released two more albums and gained a dedicated following of fans who enjoyed their pure, raw sound. But the journey to success was temporarily put on hold in 2014 when Arnold removed himself from the band to seek help for his drug addiction.

After taking some time to regroup, Goodwin and Schwartz pushed forward with the band and released Broken Into Better Shape in 2015, featuring the hit “Tell Me What You Want From Me.” According to Goodwin, the album was a completely different “poppier” sound. The two performed several acoustic shows to promote the album and tried out a few new drummers, but no one could replace the original.

“He’s the best drummer I’ve ever played with,” Goodwin said.

Arnold spent more than two years away from the band getting treatment and spending time in deep self-discovery. Earlier this year, his friends welcomed him back with open arms.

“Who knows what would’ve happened if I didn’t stop, or if I didn’t leave the band to find help. I’d probably be dead or in jail. Thankfully, I got the assistance I needed,” Arnold said. “We’ve been practicing a lot. I’m not all messed up. There’s a different spirit driving the bus now, so to speak. We’ve got that template, but we’re putting something fresh into it and making things explode.”

Good Old War’s upcoming EP Part of Me is very much like its first album, with a strong emphasis on the songs, melody and lyric content rather than the production. Though the sound is similar, there was an improved spirit to the band behind-the-scenes.

“We’re getting back to our roots but with this whole new energy,” Goodwin said.

Before Arnold left to seek help for his addiction, Goodwin reflected on how the drummer’s focus was on the wrong things and his interest in playing was almost nonexistent. Arnold’s excitement of coming back clean and sober to record was contagious, and all three bandmates felt an energy that hadn’t been present in some time, which can be heard in each of the tracks.

“Even the mellower songs have an element of excitement,” Schwartz said. “We’re playing the same instruments, singing with the same voices and using the same brains to write. At the same time, things are a little different.”

This energy is evident in the title track and first single “Part of Me,” a combination of soft guitar chords and heartfelt lyrics with the message of always striving to move forward in life and not getting stuck in the past.

“The words are about following your heart,” Goodwin said. “Go with your gut and what feels right. Don’t ever settle. That’s the idea.”

Part of Me is first of a three-part EP series, something Good Old War has never done before. Instead of releasing one full album and having to wait at least another year to release something else, they wanted to space things out to keep things interesting for fans. The second EP of the series is slated for release toward the end of this year.

“There’s a threefold experience I want people to walk away from the EPs with,” Arnold said. “I want them to relate, I want them to be able to move and dance, and I hope they can apply it to their own lives. If I have those three things in a song, it’s a great one to me.” ••

Catch Good Old War on tour with Josh Ritter this fall beginning Oct. 22. To view upcoming dates, visit goodoldwar.com, facebook.com/goodoldwar or twitter.com/goodoldwar.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com