New York City-based band Upright Man are spending their summer rocking out. Their self-titled album is being released on Aug. 18, and can be pre-ordered now on iTunes. Leading up to the release, they're also hitting the road for a limited number of shows opening for Robert Randolph and the Family Band. But who are the men behind Upright Man? AXS conducted an email interview with members Aidan Dolan (guitars and vocals), Nick Katz (bass and vocals) and Max Yassky (drums, percussion and background vocals) to meet the band before fans hear their new music.
AXS: How did each of you come to the band? Was music always a part of your lives?
Max Yassky: Always, yeah pretty much. I was that baby kicking around to Ray Charles in the womb. Cycled through a few instruments until I got to the drums, then stuck with it. It's the only instrument that I don't immediately feel like giving up when I see a seven year old kid playing it better than me. In high-school I thought I was the worst drummer around so I didn't have any performance ambitions; maybe teaching. I was going to try to be an architect or a crime scene investigator. But some friends and family pushed me to take myself more seriously. Now I'm pretty stoked to be here rather than working at a private investigator firm in Boca Raton.
Aidan Dolan: Around the time I was nine years old, my father decided to start investing a lot of time into his passion for music and built a basic home studio. Like any little brother, I first got into music because my oldest brother, Charlie, started a band with his high school friends and it seemed like a really cool thing to do. That curiosity of being around other growing musicians and having an available studio space available led to me developing a real passion for music beyond the romantic idea of being a musician. I figured by the time I was 15 that I had a chance at actually doing something ridiculous as playing guitar and singing for a living and went fully into investing my time to become a serious musician.
Nick Katz: My father is a bassist, so he had me in music school from the age of four. When I was a kid and people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say I wanted to drive a subway train in the morning, fight fires during the day, and be a musician at night. Only one of the three wound up panning out. I didn't start playing the bass until I was 11 though. I wanted to start a band, and I had friends who played everything but bass, and there were more than a few of them in my house, so I started playing the bass.
AXS: What would you call the highlights of your forthcoming record?
AD: One of my favorite tracks is “Alaska." It was one of the first songs we wrote as a band that started to define a writing style and sound for us as a band. The writing process was unique and happened fast-- I brought in the bare guitar chords and Nick happened to have lyrics without music already written that worked almost perfectly over everything I had played for him. It feels like it was meant to be written and exist!
NK: I love the breadth of material we've managed to come up with. We push ourselves to write songs that have identity, but don't all sound the same. I think my favorite songs on the record are "Designer Mind" and “ Elysia." I'm a total prog rock geek, so I just have a lot of fun playing those two.
AXS: What's the first impression you want to leave with the album?
MY: Nobody listens to lyrics so it'd be amazing if anybody told us that what we wrote meant something to them. If somebody actually downloaded the record and took it on a trip with them and our music became a part of their experience, that's more than enough. I don't think any of us are asking for people's time. I think we're all just hoping to reach out and connect.
NK: I think the most important thing to us is playing and making good music that people will enjoy. A lot of our lyrics have elements of social commentary and personal allegory, but we're really more concerned with it all being enjoyable. If people take a sense of commonality in the human experience away from it too, then that's great.
AXS: How was the process of putting it together?
NK: We're like a three way sounding board. We just throw stuff at each other and see what sticks. Sometimes it's cool, sometimes it sucks, sometimes we argue for hours, sometimes we're all right on the same page and we just put a song together really fast.
MY: We just grab and instrument and start playing music at the same time; either we play seriously or just make noise like idiots. Five percent of it sticks. Then we come back to it and embelish, change, update, delete delete delete, etc. Us in the studio is us hyped up on enough coffee to wake Liberace.
AXS: You're touring throughout the summer, but do you have other plans to promote the album or other plans you'd like to make?
MY: It would be cool to dominate a single stop on the L train with vague advertisements. Then we should have a billboard with the album cover above Houston Street, but without words or information. See if we can start a riot of frustration. If that doesn't work maybe paid Facebook ads.
NK: We're working on videos for a number of the tracks as we speak, and we will be dropping more songs before the record comes out in full in August.
Below are Upright Man's upcoming tour dates, with more information available here:
June 8 - Memphis, TN - New Daily Theatre
June 26 - New York, NY - B.B. King's (with NRBQ)
July 22 - Long Island, NY - Hecksher Park
Aug. 17 - Ocean City, MD - Fager's Island
Upright Man is now available for pre-order on iTunes. You can listen to a live version of the track "Checked Out" now by using the media player included with this article.
For more on Upright Man, visit the band's official website.