Upright Man is a New York based rock n’ roll band that is gearing up to release their debut album on August 18th.
I got the chance to interview all three members of the band, Aidan Dolan (guitar/vocals), Nick Katz (bass/vocals), and Max Yassky (drums, percussion, background vocals), to learn more about who they are individually, and what working together in a band is like. You can read that below, but first you HAVE to listen to some of their music!
Nick: We’re just a nice rock and roll band from New York City.
Max: What is Upright Man like? We haven’t met him yet but when we do, you’ll be the first to know.
Aidan: We are a modern culmination of many generations of rock and roll. Though we’ve all done our music homework, we are more than an homage of what has come before us, bringing our unique personalities, backgrounds and modern topics into our writing.
2) Your debut album is being released on August 18th. How do you feel about finally getting it out there?
Nick: It always feels good to finish things.
Max: I’m more interested in how it’ll do than how it feels to have done it.
Aidan: It feels great. It’s a new stage in our development and we can finally move out of incubating our art to bringing it out in the world. It’s been a long process and I’m glad we waited as long as we did to develop a voice as a band in our playing and songwriting.
3) I’m the type of person who listens to classic rock records religiously. 100% of the time if I have my record player on, or earbuds in, an artist from the 60’s-70’s is playing. You capture that unique sound of the time period so well. Would you say that the majority of your influence, not just in music, but in your lifestyle, also comes from that era? Or is it just a sound you enjoy?
Nick: Definitely in my case. Lifestyle is hard to say, technology is a big difference.
Max: Right on, it’s cool that you have that love of a great moment in time for music. I grew up on Ray Charles, The Clash, Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley, but I’m a modern music fan at heart; I’m stuck in 2007 with Queens Of The Stone Age, Radiohead, Ben Folds, The National, Wilco, and a few others. I know that Tame Impala is pulling from the Beatles, Vulfpeck is channeling Booker T & The MG’s, and Snarky Puppy is pulling out licks from Burt Bacharach. But it’s the loving reimagining of that original world shaping shit that interests me the most. If you can’t dig that then you have to find fault with every artist that pays homage to their predecessors.
Aidan: A majority of the influence in my music comes from me growing up loving 60’s-70’s music and that era will always be a really strong influence on me. I don’t think I really strive to live the lifestyle of musicians in that era as much as I want us to be our own rocking selves and see what that’s like. I did start the long hair thing when I began loving The Beatles though..
4) Have you heard of Greta Van Fleet? They are another band that have a very Zeppelin-esque sound. Both of you would make a great pairing for a tour!
Nick: No, and do you know anyone who could get us the gig?
Max: Not until just now, but I just checked them out at your recommendation. Cool shit; bet they put on a killer live show.
5) You currently have a few songs from your album out. One that stands out to me is your namesake track, “Upright Man.” Can you share the story behind it?
Nick: It was the last of our first batch of songs, we wrote it right on the last day of pre-production. There was definitely an “oh shit” moment when we finished it.
Max: Yeah man we left no stones unturned on that rocker of a track.
Aidan: We were in a 3 day session of pre production with our producers, Marc Copely and Zev Katz. On the last day, we finished working on all of the songs we had prepared for the session and started jamming. The “Upright Man” riff came up and caught everyone’s ear to the point it could not be ignored. With our last few hours in the pre production session, we sat down together and wrote the whole song, realizing we had also come up with an awesome name for the band. It was a big breakthrough for us in terms of developing a songwriting process and identity and came just in time.
6) What is your creation process?
Nick: I’m more of a big bang than a Genesis man, myself. Though I do like the band.
Max: It’s like some very civil kung fu fighting.
Aidan: All three of us always have fragments of cool song ideas mulling around in our heads as well as lot’s of iPhone voice notes. We’ll usually bring them to each other and develop them together into fuller ideas. We’ll all take those ideas home and develop them on our own, then bringing them back to each other again to repeat the process. At a certain point, we have so many options, we just try everything and choose the best one while cutting the fat. There are always exceptions to how we normally do things though.
7) We’ve talked about the musical aspect of your band, but how about the visual? Do you have a certain “look” that you’re going for within the band, or is it more of a let the music do the talking kind of thing?
Nick: I just try to buy shit I like.
Max: You have to ask yourself questions. Questions like: Does the shirt fit? If not, will it look good when I rip it off of myself.
Aidan: We definitely haven’t agreed to any sort of “look”, but you can count on Max to wear some pretty whacked out shirts.
8) How would you describe your live performance?
Nick: We play what you hear. Ain’t no bells or whistles.
Max: *Unless we’re arranging one of our songs with bells and whistles, which we aren’t…but we might…
Aidan: It’s like our album, but in a different order and with a lot more glue in between the songs and maybe a couple of musical curveballs.
9) You’ve played shows this summer leading up to the album release, with more in August. What are your touring plans for the rest of the year and beyond?
Nick: We hope to continue playing as much as possible.
Max: We’re playing some shows in Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and then maybe a residency in NYC.
Aidan: We are going to play a residency at the Bowery Electric this fall with a couple other East Coast dates in between. This is all leading up to a tour we are planning to start in February 2018.
10) Where do you see yourself and Upright Man in 5 years?
Max: Hopefully not dead but i’m not holding my breath.
Aidan: In a bigger van.
11) Is there anything I skipped over that you would like to talk about or promote?
Max: We’ve got a music video out on YouTube for the track “Three Easy Pieces,” and another video is coming out soon for one of other songs off our debut album. They’re both safe for work so boot that shit up and shirk off your trivial responsibilities with US!
Catch Upright Man at a show!
8/16 Ocean City, MD @Coconuts
8/17 Ocean City, MD @Fager’s Island
8/21 Vienna, VA @Jammin’ Java
8/23 New York, NY @Bowery Electric
8/24 Sellersville, PA @Sellersville Theater (w/ The Fabulous Thunderbirds)
8/31 Stanhope, NJ @The Stanhope House
Photo credit to Sloane Morrison.
Interview by Dominique Benedict.