Upright Man, a New York City based rock trio, creates singer-songwriter vibes combined with an easy rock sound that forces the listener to stop and simply enjoy the moment. Their smooth tones, melodic vocals and instrumental talent can be heard throughout their upcoming self-titled album which will be released in August. If you live in the New York City area, you can catch Upright Man on June 26, at B.B. Kings. Aidan Dolan, Nick Katz and Max Yassky took some time out of their touring schedule to answer a few questions about the band, the album and what’s to come!
Hello Aidan, Nick and Max! I hope the three of you are well. I enjoyed listening to your self-titled album due out on August 18th!
Q: Tell me about the formation of Upright Man. How long has the trio been playing together?
Max: Hello to you too, doin’ great thanks. It’s been a little over two years since we came up with the name, but we’ve been playing together for about 5 years.
Nick: We all met at NYU, it took a few years of mucking about to decide we didn’t want to play insanely difficult music together and would rather have fun.
Aidan: We all met in the music theory and composition program at NYU around 2011. After a few years of playing together in other bands and on various projects at school, we started to form a strong writing chemistry together. Thus, we started to rock out and Upright Man was born.
Q: I was reading the band biography and I noticed that Crowded House is one of the musical influences. What is your favorite Crowded House album?
Nick: I think Neill Finn is one of the premier songwriters of his generation. Got to be between Woodface and Temple of Low Men for me. “Italian Plastic” is one of my favorite songs ever.
Aidan: Neil Finn is a huge influence to me as a vocalist and song writer. Together Alone is my favorite crowded house record. The song “Catherine Wheels” is a personal favorite of mine.
Max: Time On Earth is my fav. Joey Waronker’s drumming is so tasteful and inspiring on that album.
Q: “Three Easy Pieces” is such a lovely track from your album. Who provided the piano melody and was it recorded on a keyboard or a studio piano?
Max: Thanks. Aidan and I wrote the lyrics together at Aidan’s apartment. Piano was my first instrument so I like to suss out ideas on it. We had been talking about getting away from the guitar so I played something I’d been working on and the song kind of wrote itself. Our friend Sophia Vastek is playing piano, it’s a Steinway Grand recorded in Avatar’s A live room. (Smacks lips and kisses the sky).
Aidan: “Three Easy Pieces” was a co-write between me and Max. We talked about writing a song that is carried by the piano because so many of our tunes start with guitar ideas. There was a beginners modern piano book at my piano with a series of “Three Easy Pieces” by [Igor] Stravinsky. We ran with our interpretation of that name and some simple chords and the song basically wrote itself.
Q: Talking more about the album, “Alaska” is very poetic and has a lovely storytelling feel to it. Can you tell me about this track and about the writing style?
Nick: “Alaska” is an interesting one from a process perspective. I had actually written the lyric as a completely different song. Aidan and I were hanging out one day, when he started playing the guitar part for the verses, and in a flash, it occurred to me that the song I had written the night before would not only fit the chords he was playing, but be way more interesting than what I had written under it. I didn’t even change the melody, it was really remarkable how they just fit together. I wrote the lyrics about a friend of mine. She has a tattoo that says “Alaska.” It represented a destination for her – she was going through a traumatic time in her life, I think it was a sort of Zion.
Q: Ryan Slotnick is your touring keyboard player, correct? Does Ryan join you in the studio as well?
Aidan: Our current touring member is Adam November on guitar and the occasional keyboard/synthesizer. Ryan is a great friend of ours and we still play shows with him as well when he’s available.
Q: Who are some of your current favorite artists and have you seen any of them live?
Nick: I really like Dr. Dog – they’re fantastic live. Also Thundercat is ridiculous live. Oh, and I love the stuff Julian Lage and Nels Cline do together. I’ve had the good fortune to see them live a few times.
Max: I love Wilco and I just saw them live at The Beacon. I’m hoping to see Ben Folds too at some point. All of us saw Radiohead together at Madison Square Garden a while ago, that was bad ass.
Aidan: We are in the van right now on the way to our next show listening to some Punch Brothers. They are a seriously talented band and I’d love to see them live.
Q: Tell me about one of your favorite venues in which you have performed.
Max: I normally don’t like outdoor gigs (bad experience in Westport, CT once), but our show at Savannah Stopover in Savannah, GA was great. Even though I was getting whipped in the back of the head with a giant tarp promoting some beer.
Nick: We just played Antone’s in Austin, it was a great crowd and a really cool place – definitely up there for me.
Aidan: We have performed at the Brooklyn Bowl a few times in the last year and it’s a blast.
Q: What local touring around New York City will you be doing to promote the album?
We’re playing NYC on June 26th at BB King’s and on August 23rd at Bowery Electric, and also have some out of town gigs.
Thank you for your time. I wish you all the best for your new album release. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Keep an eye for some upcoming Upright Man videos and pre-release tracks from our album!
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Photo Credit: Sloane Morrison