As the co-founder of the Philadelphia-based folk-rock outfit Good Old War, Dan Schwartz has had his fair share of success, releasing four full-length albums over seven years, along with a series of singles and EPs. In the process, Good Old War has won over a loyal grassroots fan base with its tight harmonies, honest, intelligent lyrics and earthy approachability. Raised in Northeast Philadelphia and now living in Conshohocken with his wife and “a very cute dog,” Schwartz has launched a solo career under the nom de plume Danny Black. His debut LP, Black Ryno (Umbrella Man Records), is out now.
MLT: So what’s the story behind Danny Black?
DS: Schwartz means black in German. When I decided I was going to do something on my own, I felt a little funny about seeing my own name on album covers, T-shirts and stuff. So it’s like a band name, even if it is just me.
MLT: How did the new album come together?
DS: Ryan Zimmaro—from the awesome Philly band Vacationer—played drums, and I had a friend, Peter Burton, play keyboards. I wrote everything and played everything else. I had no songs. Ryan came over and played drums to a click track, and I basically just sliced it all up and wrote until I found what I wanted.
MLT: COVID-19 has really taken its toll on the live music scene. How have you been handling it?
DS: As much as the shows themselves, I miss being in a group and traveling around in this little encampment. It’s a lifestyle, so it’s like having half of your life taken away. But I’ve been keeping busy. I’m out in Colorado right now working on a record with a friend, [fellow Philly artist] Gregory [Alan] Isakov— he actually got nominated for a Grammy for his last one.
MLT: How old were you when you realized music was it for you?
DS: I started playing at 8. We lived in a little area near Roosevelt Mall that was just Orthodox Jews. The whole reason may dad got into [Orthodox Judaism] was because sitting around the table and singing was so appealing to him. [He and my mom] were hippies basically, looking for songs to sing with everyone else. Melody is how you remember the prayers. It’s a big part of growing up Orthodox.
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