Good Old War: Peace Out


Good Old War trims down and makes its bid for mass adoration

Good Old War’s Keith Goodwin and Dan Schwartz would rather not to dwell on it, but the fact remains: They’ve had it pretty easy.

No toiling away for years in obscurity. No soulsucking run-ins with mercenary label execs, or battling resentment from some local scene they thoughtlessly abandoned. Shit, even the band’s sole casto , drummer Tim Arnold, is back in the fold on their latest tour. So much for band turmoil.

“We’ve had good luck,” says Goodwin.

“We were able to get started pretty smoothly,” adds Schwartz. “After that, it’s been a lot of touring and a lot of work to keep people interested.”

And, obviously, the more people interested, the better. Good Old War’s new album, Broken Into Better Shape (Nettwerk), sounds like an obvious bid to grow its fan base. Produced in Nashville with meticulous polish by Jason Lehning (Mat Kearney, Dolly Parton), it features collaborations with Emile Haynie (fun., Bruno Mars) and T-Collar (who cowrote bouncy first single “Tell Me What You Want From Me”). GOW’s signature three-part harmonies remain intact despite Arnold’s absence (he did pitch in on songwriting). And so do the group’s more mainstream folk/pop instincts. “It was kind of heartbreaking to see some of the songs that didn’t make it,” says Goodwin of the more than 30 tunes you won’t hear on Better Shape.

Technically a Philadelphia outfit, Good Old War didn’t have to pay its dues regionally. Goodwin was just 19 when his indie-rock band, Days Away, signed with Lava/Atlantic, so he made connections early on. A decade later, in 2008, Good Old War found a friend and better-known advocate in Anthony Green (Circa Survive, Saosin), touring as his backup band and also playing its own set. Pretty soon, Green’s fans were also GOW’s—and things picked up exponentially from there. “We made a bunch of friends that ended up helping us when it came to this band,” says Goodwin.

And just a few of the right friends can make life a whole lot easier.

—Hobart Rowland