Photographer/writer Marissa Anne had an opportunity to interview with the members Aidan Dolan (guitar/vocals), Nick Katz (bass/vocals) and Max Yassky (drums/percussion/background vocals) of New York City-based rock band Upright Man.
For our readers who have never heard your music, explain Upright Man’s sound in 5 words.
Nick: The soft squish of coitus.
Max: A colossal quest for nachos.
Aidan: Big ol’ ruckus in space.
Where did you all meet?
Nick: New York University.
When did you form your band?
Nick: Early 2015 is when we started writing together.
Max: We began this project in the spring of 2015.
Aidan: Spring 2015. We were in a group playing my original classical compositions before that in 2013-14.
What inspired you to make music together?
Max: Fear of displeasing the great overlord Glarpth, of our homeworld Alphatron Phi.
Nick: We make music, we like hanging out. It kind of added up.
Aidan: Working on different types of music projects as friends and colleagues inspired us to combine our brains into one band.
How are your personalities reflected in your music/lyrics?
Nick: How could they not be? That’s like, fundamental to music.
Max: I’m constantly on the sex train. I think that’s evident.
Aidan: I know when a pair of fresh ears hear us, we sound like a cohesive unit with a single musical voice, but I’m so familiar with our individual musical and lyrical tendencies that I can hear the explosive reaction of our personalities colliding in the music.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
Aidan: What the band sounded like was so nebulous to us in the beginning. We were thinking of the songs as composers with a much grander vision of arrangements in the beginning. We had even talked of arranging and recording a real string section on the record in our early days. But then we wrote the song, “Upright Man” and everything changed. We knew were destined to rock and sought to play everything like cavemen with a college education.
Tell me the BEST things about being on the road. Now, tell me the WORST thing.
Max: Being on the road is awesome for catching on sleeping in a van. It’s very hard to sleep in a van when you’re living in an apartment in New York.
Nick: Being on the road. For both.
Aidan: Visiting new cities and talking to people who live there has been a great experience for us already. We live in a big a country and it’s a good reminder of how different life can be in other parts of the U.S. The worst thing has probably been eating Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich at 4am for the 4th night in a row.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Max: We never got those 5 bags of chips we ordered one night in the studio. Even with the help of our producer we just weren’t able to overcome an arrogant restaurateur.
Aidan: Making music comes easy. It was probably getting past that blowout argument over Mario Kart a years ago. We overcame it by no longer playing Mario Kart.
Nick: No dude, that was Smash, we can still handle Mario Kart.
Can you tell us about your debut album “Upright Man” due out August 18th? What inspired it?
Aidan: There was no single inspiration other than to write great songs. We just kept on writing, recording, and playing shows until we felt like we had developed a sound and writing style.
How long did it take to put the album together and who played what roles?
Max: Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. We all play a role in the Game Of Thrones.
Aidan: We started recording in the spring of 2015. We had enough songs recorded to release an album by the end of that summer, but the band was growing and developing so fast that we felt the need to write and record another batch of songs in the fall of 2016. I guess that adds up to two years. We had a team of our two producers Marc Copely and Zev Katz and engineer/mixer, Bruce Sugar, onboard the whole time.
Where were your favorite shows performed (the venue) and why?
Max: I loved playing at Bard in a semi-permanent garage-shack outside the baseball field. Seriously.
Aidan: I really enjoyed Antone’s in Austin. It was our first night opening for Robert Randolph and the Family Band and it was packed. That venue has a lot of history and you can tell that when you’re backstage and checking out some of the old photos.
Nick: BB King’s in NYC was pretty cool. I’ve seen a lot of people play there. It was one of those milestone stages for me.
If you could perform anywhere in the world where would you most want to play?
Max: Japan, in maybe in a club in Sapporo.
Aidan: An Upright Man tour conveniently worked around eating sushi in Japan is up there on the list.
Nick: I’d say Antarctica, but I don’t know if the ice sheet will still be there by the time we’re big enough to pull a stunt like that.
Favorite bands: What are you guys listening to right now?
Max: Chomsky on audiobook.
Aidan: Los Lobos, Crowded House, Punch Brothers, Ernest Tubb.
Nick: XTC, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Little Feat, Elvis Costello, The Band, oh and I’ve been blasting the first Audioslave record at least once a week since Cornell went. That shit is killer.
Upright Man bio:
New York City-based rock band Upright Man is Aidan Dolan (guitar/vocals), Nick Katz (bass/vocals) and Max Yassky (drums/percussion/background vocals). The group met while studying classical music composition at New York University where they played together on various projects ranging from classical ensembles to rock bands. Their strong writing chemistry spurred the formation of Upright Man. Combining elements of alternative, psychedelic, roots rock and classic rock with complex harmonies and time signatures, the band seamlessly intertwines influences like Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Crowded House, Little Feat, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and XTC into a unique sound all their own.
Upright Man’s dynamic self-titled debut is due out on August 18th. The album’s ten shimmering tracks were produced by Marc Copely (Roseanne Cash, B.B. King, Billy Squire) and Zev Katz (Jeff Beck, Hall & Oates, Aretha Franklin) and engineered by Bruce Sugar (Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh) at Avatar Studios and Sear Sound in NYC and at Blackbird Studios in Nashville.
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.
Upright Man on Tour:
7/23 Long Island, NY @Amityville Music (w/ Bad Rabbits)
8/17 Ocean City, MD @Fager’s Island
8/23 New York, NY @Bowery Electric
8/24 Sellersville, PA @Sellersville Theater (w/ The Fabulous Thunderbirds)
Upright Man social media links: