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Q&A: Guitarist, vocalist Dan Schwartz of Good Old War discusses new album and upcoming show in L.A.

By Leah Christianson

March 19, 2012 2:05 pm

Dan Schwartz is the guitarist and vocalist of the alternative-folk band Good Old War, whose new album, “Come Back as Rain,” was released on March 6. Schwartz spoke to the Daily Bruin’s Leah Christianson about the band’s upcoming show on March 25 at the Avalon, transcendental moments both on and off stage and the band’s overarching positive mentality.

Daily Bruin: Where did you find the inspiration for the songs on the new album?
Dan Schwartz: A lot of places, really. Most of the time what we’re inspired by are the things that are happening in our lives. We try to take things we’re going through and turn them into something that the world can understand.

DB: Can you choose any favorite or especially meaningful songs off “Come Back as Rain?”
DS: The song “Amazing Eyes” has been a project of ours for years. We left it off the last two records because we kept going back to it and changing it more. Finally, we decided to put it on this record and we’re really happy with it. “Better Weather” really came out of nowhere, and that’s one of my favorite songs that we’ve ever done. It’s hard to pick a favorite.

DB: Are there any specific feelings that you want listeners to take away from your music?
DS: The one thing we want to share more than anything is a feeling of positivity. We’re really trying to make people take a moment to pay attention to the positive things that are (happening) in their lives. We try very hard to take things that might have a negative connotation and turn them around. It’s the same thing with our shows. We may have some lyrics that are on the sadder side, but we try to turn them into something with an uplifting feel. It’s what we try to do in our own lives.

DB: Can you cite any influences for your songwriting or musical process?
DS: We really listen to everything. Everyone is so open to new music. It’s really more an emotional thing that influences us; everyone is trying to just be true to their feelings going into the songwriting process. We all come from places (and) influences by 60s singers: The Beatles, The (Rolling) Stones, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel. We all met on those initially and really expanded out of there.

DB: You all started collaborating after something happened to your bandmates’ former band, Days Away. How did you decide to continue to make music together?
DS: Days Away had a tour booked with Anthony Green, but right before the tour was about to leave, a band member wasn’t able to go. They didn’t want to do the tour for no reason, and I already knew the guys, so we realized that it was the perfect opportunity for us to work together. We actually started on tour, writing songs in the van on the way there, and we’ve pretty much been touring every since.

DB: How long ago was that?
DS: About four years ago, December 2007.

DB: You’re playing on March 25 at the Avalon. How do you feel about performing in Los Angeles as opposed to other cities?
DS: It’s funny, I’ve heard a lot of people say that L.A. is a difficult place to play, but every single show we’ve had in L.A. has been incredible. The fans have been amazing, and we’ve had some absolutely transcendental moments as a band in L.A. I can’t look forward to it enough.

DB: Can you expand a little more on that “transcendental moments” comment?
DS: Our band has grown very organically. We’ve all been playing for so long but never really had fans besides small pockets of people up until now. … L.A. was one of the first places where we played a show that was sold out. We were treated with love, had amazing sing-alongs with audiences. We love to have these sing-alongs, where people leave the show feeling as though they experienced something. That’s the mood we try to create at our shows, for all the people. It’s not just us ““ everyone sang together, and everyone made the show happen. And I think that that’s happened in L.A. more than anywhere else.

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