New York City-based rock band Upright Man just released their self-titled debut album. Comprising Aidan Dolan (guitars/vocals), Nick Katz (bass/vocals), and Max Yassky (drums, percussion, background vocals), the band got their start at New York University, where they studied classical music composition, and are now delivering to their listeners a dynamic sound that combines elements of alternative, psychedelic, roots rock, and classic rock with influences like Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and Crowded House.
Upright Man is the culmination of the trio's efforts developing as a unit and working tirelessly on an unreleased 12-track album. "We had never played a show before going into the studio with our producer to record these tracks," Dolan revealed. "We came to discover that the process of recording this now unreleased record and breaking the band in with a year of live shows was a stepping stone to becoming a real band and creating what is now our first record. Only four of the songs from our original album survived to make it on this new one. I didn't see that coming."
Containing 10 hypnotic, thought-provoking tracks, Upright Man was 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. "Well, the writing of this album was a period of major musical growth for all of us," Katz explained. "So much so, in fact, that we had to scrap a good amount of material in favor of newer songs that we felt fit our identity as a band better...It extended the recording process quite a bit, but in the end I think we've come out with a much stronger record than we started with."
Even though their music today draws heavily on rock influences, they have not completely abandoned their roots and traces of their classical past are still very much present in their music today. "Well, when we were at NYU we actually played these long form, super syncopated, very 'out' classical pieces on our rock band instruments. The kind of things that took a year to write and six months to figure out how to play properly," Katz said. "While intellectually stimulating and definitely good practice, they didn't exactly have what one might call mass appeal. Eventually we decided it was more fun to just write songs." Although their new tracks are not quite as complex, "There are definitely vestiges of that era in our music though," he continued, "what with all the odd time signatures and extended harmonies and voice leading techniques we picked up in school. In a way, there is a deliberateness in our decision making that we gained from that experience."
When Musical Notes Global asked for some pre-release details on the album, Dolan replied "What can you tell me about the album? That's what we want to know. We are constantly developing and changing as a band and this album is a snapshot in time of us as artists. We spent a long time writing and recording this music in many forms and were determined to only release an album that sounded like a real band. The longer we work and write together, the more our vision of what Upright Man is becomes closer the same thing." Yassky added: "The songs went through a lot of refinement during production - like toothpaste, or vodka. The album version of all the tunes is dancier more listenable than what they were when we'd just finished baking them. So if they still seem incomprehensible and foreign in both groove and harmony, at least we can say we tried."
As long of a journey as it was, though, the process of recording the album was not in vain, and it even came along with a little bit of fun. "We got the whole studio banned in perpetuity from ordering from a nearby Mexican restaurant because we complained about how they didn’t send us tortilla chips with our three orders of guacamole," Katz recounted. "They thought we were trying to fleece them." And Dolan revealed that some of his favorite memories from making the album were shared alongisde their producer Marc Copely, who would "occasionally sneak into the live room and overdub himself singing in a 80's metal voice over our more rocking tunes. Tears of laughter always ensued when out of nowhere an overly epic Ronnie James Dio voice would pop up into our rough mixes. We never take the creative process too seriously." And Yassky's response? "I did not have fun. It was stressful and I don't want to talk about it and you can't make me." (Lol.)
Upright Man is celebrating the release of their debut album with a series of East Coast shows. Musical Notes Global was curious to know what have been some of their favorite venues to perform at in the past. "One of my favorite shows we've done was at a little festival in Savannah, Georgia a few months ago," Katz told Musical Notes Global. "It was a beautiful evening on a nice little outdoor stage in downtown Savannah, which is a gorgeous town, and we played a particularly good set to a particularly receptive crowd." Yassky said: "I love small stages, but I think we had a killer show at Brooklyn Bowl back in April opening up for Backup Planet. It really felt on."
Curious to hear more from the band? Check out them out for yourself at one of their upcoming East Coast shows:
- 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
For all of Upright Man's latest news and updates, follow the band on social media: