A band resembles a brotherhood. No matter how fate twists and turns, the initial bond between members only strengthens over time. That’s undoubtedly been the case for Good Old War. The critically acclaimed Philadelphia trio—Keith Goodwin [vocals, guitar, keys], Dan Schwartz [guitar, vocals], and Tim Arnold [drums, keys, accordion, vocals]—extended their longstanding personal connection to fans over the course of four full-length albums, anthems like “Amazing Eyes” and “Coney Island,” and countless shows alongside everyone from Alison Krauss and Brandi Carlile to Dr. Dog and Dispatch. This tradition continues throughout the group’s 2017 EP series, beginning with Part of Me [NETTWERK]. Progressing their patented pastiche of dreamy folk, gusty roots, and soulful indie, the musicians draw on their creative union to take another bold step forward.
“I feel like we used all of our strengths that we built over the last ten years and worked them into the new music more than ever,” says Keith. “From the very beginning of the songs to the end, we were all there for it. I’m feeling a lot of love for these guys. The energy is at an all-time high.”
Dan adds, “Even the mellower songs have an element of excitement. 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.”
For starters, Tim returned to the fold in 2017. Mired in a battle against drug and alcohol addiction, the drummer amicably split from his bandmates in order to seek help during 2014. In the meantime, Dan and Keith released 2015’s Broken Into Better Shape buoyed by the hit “Tell Me What You Want From Me,” which cumulatively surpassed 7 million Spotify streams between the original and acoustic versions.
However, they never lost touch with Tim, speaking weekly. When he became ready, Dan and Keith welcomed him back.
“I needed to get my shit together,” admits Tim. “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. After six months of treatment and self-discovery, I came back and said to the guys, ‘Whatever you want to know, you can ask me. I’m done lying to everybody. Say whatever you want to say. I’ll be honest.’ I was prepared for them to tell me to fuck off because it’s what I deserved, but that’s not how it happened,” he smiles. “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.”
That energy carries through the title track and first single “Part Of Me.” Slide guitar and delicate finger-picking entwine with heartfelt lyrics, “We’ve gotta run. If you’re holding on, the seams will come undone, and you only get part of me.”
"It’s a note to Tim and Dan about moving on together, not dwelling on the past and letting our love for music take us forward.” “The words are about following your heart,” Keith elaborates. “Go with your gut and what feels right. Don’t ever settle. That’s the idea.”
Meanwhile, the EP opener and follow-up single “The River” shuffles ahead on a bright beat before culminating on an empowering chant, “We’ve got skills but we’re living on luck. I think we’re doing just fine.”
“I wrote the lyrics about what Tim was going through,” Dan remarks. “One day, he said something to me about being like water. It relates to relationships. Things come and go. We have to flow with them. We’re all headed to the same place. We just have to make good on all that.”
In the end, you could say Tim puts the “Old” back in Good Old War—Keith Goodwin, Tim Arnold, Dan Schwartz—and “The old is what is good again.”
It’s just a little brighter now…
“There’s a threefold experience I want people to walk away from the EPs with,” Tim leaves off. “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.”
“This process helped us realize what we’re all individually best at by working collectively,” concludes Dan. “It’s all about the future together. We’re just going to stay focused on the present moment and make sure we’re kicking ass right every day.”

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Danny Black

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