We know we talk about New York City being an amazing mixing pot of music – a place where collaboration equates to sonic textures that at times, are completely new to the world. However, have you been to NYU?! The institution in the middle of NYC brings together some of the most creative minds on the planet, and luckily for us, Max Yassky, Nick Katz, and Aidan Dolan collided there to form Upright Man, a space rock trio that Yassky says you can expect to hear “on VH1 on a TV in the back of a taco truck on Mars.” Its music you can hear for yourself by clicking to http://uprightman.band/ to listen to Upright Man’s debut self-titled effort, just out this month! Check the show schedule while you’re there…of course, right after a good read of all the answers to the XXQs below.
XXQs: Upright Man
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out from others in your genre?
Max Yassky (MY): Space rock. We’re what you could expect to hear on VH1 on a TV in the back of a taco truck on Mars.
PEV: What can fans expect from your just released self-titled debut album? Tell us about the writing process behind this work.
Nick Katz (NK): We wrote 24 songs and you get to hear ten of them.
MY: They can expect at least 10 songs.
PEV: What kind of music were you all into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
MY: We were all over the place. I got into Roy Orbison and Ray Charles when I was a kid, went through a brief punk/emo phase, then a jazz fusion phase, and then I got back into what is generally considered good music. I can’t remember my first concert but it was definitely something classical at Tanglewood in Massachusetts.
NK: My dad is a bassist, so I grew up on the sides of stages watching him play. Some of my earliest memories are of the backstage at The Bottom Line in Lower Manhattan. I think I listened pretty much exclusively to Rafi and The Beatles from the ages of 2 to 5. I discovered the Rolling Stones after a while too. “Satisfaction” blew my mind.
Aidan Dolan (AD): I am slightly embarrassed to disclose my musical taste before the age of 11! But from that point on, The Beatles became a window to a lot of older music that really inspired me. Classic rock bands like The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd. From there I got into jam/band, jazz fusion, and somehow I ended up graduating college with a degree in Classical Composition. It seems I have found my way back to my musical roots that I developed as a child.
PEV: What was it like starting out in the NYC music scene when you first started out as a band? What was your first show like together as a band?
MY: I can’t imagine that anyone has good stories of their first NYC shows. Best case you have lots of friends and no one to give you honest feedback, worst case you have no fans and no honest feedback.
NK: You just ride the subway with stuff. A lot. Our first gig was at The Bitter End. Ken Gorka, who was the venue booker and co-owner, was a great friend to both my father and myself over his years there.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Upright Man show?
MY: A false sense of security, a hard time dancing, and A BRAND NEW CAR.
AD: A more raw, rocking version of our album with extended sections!
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?
MY: Are my drums on?
NK: Has anyone seen my pants?
AD: What’s the first song?
PEV: How has playing in Upright Man been different from working with other artists or projects in the past, while you were students at NYU and beyond?
AD: I think we have worked with each other long enough through all sorts of ridiculous and challenging projects in college to have seen a real natural chemistry develop between the three of us. When we met in school, we all had our own individual music projects and compositions, but we came to realize that when we pooled our creativity together, it created something more organic and inspiring. We’ve managed to stick together this long without killing each other and are always growing and improving as a unit.
NK: Well, there are different people in it, for one. We play different songs. It’s cool.
PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music? Where do you get your best ideas for songs?
AD: We are always coming up with song ideas and recording voices memos on our own. When we get in a room together with our instruments, our writing process is all about how our personalities collide to create something none of us could alone. That’s the most inspiring way to work.
NK: Ideas are just kind of floating in space most of the time, you just have to get your head in the way.
AD: It is definitely satisfying! But I think we all have so many ideas and ways to imagine how we could write and record our songs that once it’s all over with and the final recordings are sent out for mastering, we are immediately thinking of the next record.
NK: Well, thank god that’s done. Time for the next one.
MY: Our songs never turn out the way I imagine they will. I expect the flavor that I put in the dish to be the thing I notice first, but it’s usually something I notice last. Everyone else’s flavors/ideas are abundant and it’s like hearing the song for the first time.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Upright Man?
MY: Max gave up saxophone to play the drums.
AD: Aidan digs Pilates.
NK: We spend a lot of time lying down.
PEV: What would you say is the biggest challenge for musicians trying to make a name for themselves these days?
NK: Saturation. My socks keep getting wet.
MY: I haven’t “made it” so I have no idea.
AD: Getting people to spend the time actually listening to your music when there is such a high volume of media and entertainment assaulting us from all angles at all times. In big cities especially, a community of people that might actually love your music have a million other things they could be doing.
PEV: What’s the one place you most want to play that upright Man has not yet?
AD: Madison Square Garden.
MY: Center stage at Jurassic Park.
NK: The moon.
PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
NK: Trying to get to the moon.
MY: Sitting back with a big bag of popcorn while watching Nick try to get to the moon.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?
AD: We would like to collaborate with Gentle Giant. I don’t really know if we could hang though…
NK: Beethoven. I feel like he would have really liked distortion pedals.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
MY: I hear George W. Bush is taking a break from painting and working on his solo harmonica career. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for.
AD: TAUK. My brother is the bassist and I grew up seeing these guys play gigs at 13 years old in our backyard.
NK: Some friends of mine are in a group called JIL. They do some awesome shit.
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what do you think each of you would be doing for a career?
AD: I’d probably still be entertaining people somehow.
NK: I’d be a novelty telegraph operator.
MY: I’d be a Crime Scene Investigator in Boca Raton.
PEV: So, what is next for Upright Man?
AD: Our debut album is out and we’re playing shows!
MY: We’re working on a record that you smell rather than hear.
NK: We have a gig on Everest next month. Getting the gear up there is gonna be a schlep.
For more information, click to http://uprightman.band/.