Despite their tongue-in-cheek moniker, there's nothing truly controversial about Good Old War.
It would be tough to argue the negative sides of singable indie folk, after all. The Philadelphia-based trio makes pretty music. It's accessible. They're not looking to be the next hipster fad, but to have approachable melodies that make their audience feel genuine, unclouded emotion - something that isn't accidental, according to guitarist Dan Schwartz.
"In an interview the other day, they caught me using the word 'sing-along-able," Schwartz says, adding that that's part of the goal with their songwriting.
And when they see their fans mouthing back the words they wrote, even from their two-week-old release, Come Back as Rain, it makes writing heart wrenchingly sincere lyrics matter. After all, when your fans take your words to heart, you should mean them.
"We weren't trying to do it, but we wrote about being away a lot," Schwartz says. "We tour so much, and we love it, but there's definitely a part that longs for home."
The first leg of their tour, which started just two days after the record's release, drove them through the South, until they finally landed in Austin, Texas for SXSW. Far from their first visit to the festival, you could consider them SXSW experts of sorts. A favorite moment this year, Schwartz says, is seeing gypsy bands perform on the streets, which made them join in on the conga lines that formed around the street music madness.
"Those were some of the best bands we saw at SXSW - the gypsy bands," Schwartz says.
The festival was a vacation from the band's exhaustive touring schedule. Until the end of April, Good Old War will find themselves in a new city nearly every day. By the time they land here tonight in Phoenix, they will have been to 10 cities in 14 days, including the three-day stint in Austin. So when they write lyrics like "When I tell you the truth that 'I miss your touch'/Or that you couldn't take that I left so much" on Come Back as Rain's "Can't Go Home," the words can't help but read autobiographical.
They make the best of the road, though. There's nothing quite like the validation of the crowd, Schwartz says, and although touring can take the piss out of you, seeing those words sung right back at you is a different level of acceptance. Family and friends are one thing, but the road calls.
Good Old War is scheduled to perform tonight at Crescent Ballroom.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.