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 Squier) 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. Without further delay, here is our fun conversation with Upright Man.
M.T.C.: Tell me who you and what do you do in the band and how did Upright Man get started?
Max: I’m Rex Pásta Fandango. I play the Celtic Zither and I also yodel for Upright Man. The origin of Upright Man is mostly a myth,a legend. You’ve probably already heard the tale a thousand times.
Nick: Playing music is an addiction. When you play music with people and have bands. You just keep wanting more.
Aidan: I’m Aidan, and I’ve been hooked on polyphonics for lot of years now.
M.T.C.: You studied music composition at New York University. What elements did you learn there in terms of crafting a song?
Max: 5 chords is 4 chords too many. 3 notes in a chord is two notes too many. 4 beats in a bar is three beats too many. Boop. Boop. Boop. Boop. You’re welcome, I just wrote you a hit song courtesy of my training at NYU.
Nick: I left after a year because I spent a year and a few grand learning stuff I already knew.
Aidan: You learn a lot of rules in school, but at the end of the day, you make your own rules in music and there is nothing truly off limits. You gain a lot of tools in school, but the hard part is focusing in on what works best for you and developing an individual voice.
M.T.C.: What can fans expect from your self-titled debut due out August 18th?
Max: It’s mine! My precious!
Nick: We just made what we think is a solid rock record. Hopefully other people agree.
Aidan: You’ll basically hear our record in a different order, with lots of musical glue and moments for us to open up musically and play something different every show.
M.T.C.: Give us a day in the life of creating this self titled record?
Max: Interior of a brick building: the walls are oozing with a soft orange pus. Noxious fumes linger in the air and three hooded hunchbacks take deep, zealous breaths. They drop to the floor, convulsing and stammering, then are still. As if shirking off death, the three figures upright themselves and remove their hoods. Gelatinous grey matter oozes from their ears. The ghoulish figures each take a handful of their own cerebrum and, like a child bearing a candle at mass, walk it ominously towards a massive computer console in the center of the room. The upright men drop their fistfuls of brain-mush into the open disk-drive and, upon relieving themselves of their own cortexes, force the tray closed. The lights on the computer shift from a slumbering blue to a violent red as the inner machinations of the computron click and whirr. A pinwheel spins murderously on screen, and then silence. A first draft is completed.
Nick: Follow that with me facepalming and you pretty much have it.
Aidan: Fresh pots!
M.T.C.: If you had to craft a song for one pop diva from today who would it be, and what would the title of the song be?
Max: Rihanna would be cool. She was awesome in that new Luc Besson movie.
Nick: If I were to do that it would be for the money. I don’t give a shit which of the cookie cutter business singers decided to do a version of it as long as my ass gets paid.
Aidan: Lady Gaga, she can really sing.
M.T.C.: Advice that you have for other bands just starting out?
Max: Read up on your publishing rights and review some basic contracts.
Nick: I’ve said it before and said it again. Don’t do it.
Aidan: Have a solid plan B.
M.T.C.: What is in store for Upright Man for the rest of the year?
Max: We’re performing a couple two hour sets in Maryland in the middle of August. It’s going to be a night of classic psych rock.
Nick: Gigs and touring, touring and gigs.
Aidan: We’ve got 5 shows in August around the East Coast around our album release date. The big tour will be in 2018, but for this fall we’re going to play a residency at the Bowery Electric with some small runs on the East Coast.
M.T.C.: Tell us about your songs “Say What You Mean” and “Animals.”
Max: What’s to tell? If there was a point to describing the songs in words, they’d be prose and not songs.
Aidan: I can’t commit to any explicit meanings, but “Say What You Mean” wouldn’t have been written if the internet didn’t exist. “Animals” probably contains our silliest lyrics, but sometimes you don’t need many layers of meaning to write something that makes you feel good.
Check out the music video to “Three Easy Pieces” below
M.T.C.: What are your influences from a lyrical standpoint?
Max: Beck, for sure. David Byrne and Jeff Tweedy too. Folks that go for feel over telling a cohesive and explicit story.
Nick: Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, XTC, Neil Finn — people who manage to be cohesive and poetic.
Aidan: The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Elliott Smith, Los Lobos
M.T.C.: Anything else you want to add in regards to the Upright Man record?
Max: We hope you dig it.
M.T.C.: Thank you for taking the time to interview with me for Madness To Creation.
Upright Man: Thank you!
And there you have it! Check out Upright Man at the following tour dates:
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
Check out Upright Man at the following locations:
Pre-order the self-titled debut album at the following locations below: