Upright Man has crafted an exciting, ambitious, formidable album that immediately captivates and holds tight. The magnetic songs boast the hulking riffs and spacey twists of the eponymous “Upright Man” while the bombastic tribal beats of “Animals” and “Checked Out” throw you into a hypnotic frenzy. “Three Easy Pieces” mesmerizes with propulsive piano-driven swagger, “Agorognostic” paints a lush soundscape via sharp lyrics and vibrant instrumentation and “Designer Mind” and “Say What You Mean” offer sultry distortion-drenched stomps.
Aidan Dolan (guitar/vocals), Nick Katz (bass/vocals) and Max Yassky (drums/percussion/background vocals).
How did you guys all meet and when did you know you had something with Upright Man?
Max: Upright Man kind of came on to us. He was inside us all along and we never knew it.
Nick: Dear god man.
Aidan: We met at NYU and worked on various projects together in the classical program and in each others’ bands. We had a good chemistry started to write together, which led to a growing list of original songs. It happened naturally. Next thing you know we were in the studio and playing shows as Upright Man.
Describe playing early shows and growing as a musician into where you are now?
Max: I sucked and now I think that I rock but when I listen to recent performances I think that I still suck. So I’ve gotten dumber?
Aidan: For many years in college, before the creation of Upright Man, I was much more classical-minded in my playing. In the recent years, through Upright Man, I have turned back to rocking and simply playing what feels good and interests me.
Nick: Bags of dicks.
Who are some of your influences (current and past)?
Max: For the drum thing: Shawn Pelton – who has drummed with Johnny Cash, David Byrne, Shakira and more, Joey Waronker and Dave Grohl. Band-wise: Beck and St. Vincent are great.
Aidan: David Gilmore, George Harrison, David Hidalgo, Jeff Beck, Elliot Smith, Neil Finn, Chet Atkins, Lead Belly.
Nick: This is one I don’t say enough but is undoubtedly the biggest influence on my playing: Zev Katz. Colin Moulding, John Entwhistle, Duck Dunn, Kenny Gradney, Rick Danko, Paul McCartney, Chris Squire, Ray Shulman, David Hood, James Jamerson, Jerrold Jamat, Joey Spamponato, Jaco, and many many more have played a big role as well.
What is Upright Man’s song writing process like?
Max: The longest part of the process is finding a suitable sacrificial frog. Very hard. We usually just give up and play acoustic guitar on the couch until something starts to cement.
Aidan: We just get together and keep throwing shit at the wall.
Nick: Then we take that shit up off of the wall, put it down on the floor in a glass bowl. Then you take some fuck, put it up on the wall, where the shit used to be. You take that fuck, up off of the wall put it down on the floor with the shit in the glass bowl. What? Yo. Here’s another little piece of advice. Watch “Fuck Shit Stack” by Reggie Watts and you will understand the mysteries of the universe. That reminds me, Beck’s bass playing on “Odelay” definitely left a mark too.
What’s your favorite tour story?
Aidan: Probably that time in Greensboro, North Carolina. We went to the Colosseum Diner (i think that’s the name) and some other local regulars that were dining ask us if we were in a rock band. The answer was yes and next thing you know we were hanging out, handing them Upright Man pins, and talking about politics. Once the topic of religion rolled around I was ready to get moving.
Nick: Ok, so we were driving north on I 95 through the Carolinas and we stopped for gas somewhere in between nowhere and nothing else – we tend to stand out in places like that. Young guys in a van wearing stupid clothing aren’t too common in some places, I suppose. Anyway, a guy pulls up at the pump next to us in a huge white pickup wearing a camo baseball hat, jeans, and a tee with the sleeves cut off. I think his name was Terry. He starts with the eternal question, “Are you all in a band?” Ever polite, we chorus, “Yeah man, we’re in from New York…” Etc. We got to chatting for a bit, and eventually he starts making comments about people smelling weed – and being who we are, we all kind of panicked thinking that he meant that we smelled like weed (which we probably did). As it turns out, he was asking us if he smelled like weed. We all had a good laugh and went on with our days. Half an hour later, someone was driving and a huge white pick up truck pulls up window to window with our van and starts honking like crazy. I thought it was some enraged lunatic ready to run us off the road. Really, it was just Terry, hollering at the top of his lungs while smoking a bowl, eating a chicken sandwich, and driving north on I 95 in his giant F150.
Max: That time we opened for Yes but everyone got too high and no one remembers.
Talk to me about your debut album due out August 18th and the band’s plans for the back half of 2017?
Aidan: We are really excited for our album release coming up on August 18th. We’ll be back at B.B. King’s in NYC opening for the Fabulous Thunderbirds on July 20th and we have a few more shows along the way this summer leading up to the release. Fall dates coming soon!
Who is your favorite comic book character?
Max: Rob or Don from Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns.” They don’t shiv and they billy berserk. You hear that? That’s the sound of a needlessly dorky inside joke.
Aidan: Captain Hindsight
Nick: Captain Haddock.