With so many mediocre alternative folk bands on the music circuit at the moment, it’s all the more uplifting when you discover a band like The Good Mad, where talent and authenticity stems from the very core. The three-piece band, consisting of Adam Brooks, Andy Fischer-Price and Allie Gonino (who can also be seen in the TV series The Lying Game), is still a relatively new music venture for the trio, though they’re slowly and steadily carving a name for themselves and their folksy music. The Good Mad are multifaceted, hearty and unique, with a harmonious and whimsical sound that’s honest and quirky in the best of ways. You’re guaranteed not to have heard anything quite like them before!
Adam, Andy and Allie talk about their new EP Alta, their inspirations and musical influences and what listeners can look forward to in the future.
Q: Firstly, could you kick off by telling us a little bit about The Good Mad and how you came together?
Adam: The Good Mad is an indie-folk trio formed in Los Angeles in 2011. A few years ago Andy and I were playing in an indie rock band, and Allie started playing violin with the group as well. When that band broke up, the three of us got together with acoustic instruments (guitar, bass, violin, ukelele), and stripped down the sound and the songwriting approach. The result was a very honest collection of earthy songs with a lot of harmonies. I think of it as being quite “wooden”, like ALTA is something we carved out of a tree trunk while we were camping.
Q: You’ve literally just released your debut EP titled Alta…what’s behind the name?
Andy: Alta is my aunt, an amazing woman who paid for pretty much all of the EP. She is a doctor and has always given back to the science community but she thought helping our band would be a good way to donate to the arts. So, in a very short time, The Good Mad EP went from being hypothetical to a very real possibility and we were able to move forward with all the plans we’d fantasized about. It was Adam and Allie’s idea to give back to Alta by naming the record after her. We kept it a surprise till the week we released it, and she was so excited and touched!
Q: The EP on the whole is refreshingly different and seems to have a multitude of influences, how would you describe the overall sound? Does it fit into one musical genre or does it borrow a bit from multiple genres?
Adam: ALTA does have a lot of different influences, and borrows from a few genres, but ultimately it could be classified as folk/Americana. It’s got that basic sense of yearning and celebration with live instrumentation, and fits right in with the current ongoing folk revival. The combination of three-part harmonies, violin weaving around acoustic guitar and upright bass, and the minimal percussion give it a rustic, intimate feel that really reflects where everybody was at that time. We were a little more introspective, and wanted to get back to the basics of songwriting and playing. We really wanted to be able to walk out in the woods and jam together, and not have to worry about all these amps and cords and production for a bit.
Q: What was the inspiration for Falling Asleep?
Adam: Falling Asleep (Shine Don’t Shadow) is the first song that we all three co-wrote together for The Good Mad. The inspiration behind it was all of us wanting to articulate the commotion of our changing lives at that time. And we truly did just put our ideas together– by the third verse we layered three different melody and lyric lines on top of each other in a kind of schizophrenic way that we all liked. And Falling Asleep really does seem to capture the essence of the band– there is no leader or front man, just three voices and perspectives playing off each other.
Andy: The inspiration for the chorus came when my girlfriend at the time woke up in the middle of the night and said, “when I was falling asleep, I saw all these people trying to get in our dreams.” In that half-sleep state she saw a group of dream ‘extras’ hanging out in a room, waiting to be plucked up and cast as characters in our dreams. I wrote the phrase down and found it in the morning. The melody came later that day and we each wrote verses in the room, not anticipating that they could be sung on top of each other. We didn’t do much lyrical editing; we pretty much wrote what came and kept the trippy, dreamlike themes without requiring it to make complete sense. It was just about as organic as songwriting gets.
Allie: It was weird when Andy came to us with the idea, telling us how it had come about. About a week before that, one night I was in a half-sleep state, halfway between REM and awake. I heard and felt many frantic and angry presences in my room, like people were panicking. It was a scary vibration and I sat up and practically yelled, “It’s all gunna be OKAY!” Luckily, there were no actual people in the room. I took the inspiration from that experience, as well as my perspective on Adam and Andy’s verses to come up with my lyrics in the third verse.
Q. Can you give us an insight into what the recording process was like?
Andy: We recorded ALTA this last May at County Q Studios in Nashville. We cut it like an old-school country record with everybody playing live and without a click-track. Since Adam’s a Nashville native we got to stay at his folks’ place, which really helped the vibe stay fun and relaxed. It felt like a huge field-trip, plane ride and all. Our producer, Phillip Swann, wanted to highlight the blue-grassy vibe in our songs so he got some incredible studio players to come in and beef up our sound. It was amazing to see how instinctual these guys are; they just knew what to play. We cut all the instruments the first day, vocals the second day, and then mixed for the rest of the week. It was as efficient as recording can get but there was no stress or negativity in the studio.
Q: Has this style of music always been close to your hearts? Is it the type of music you grew up listening to?
Allie: For the most part, yes. I know we all have a wide range of influences, and don’t identify with any one particular genre. Music is music, and if it’s authentic, that’s what’s important. I personally grew up performing western swing and country music, and listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, and Beatles. I think the executive decision to add instruments like banjo, mandolin, and upright bass for this particular collection of songs, had a great impact on driving them towards a folkier vibe. I believe a song can be produced any number of ways. For us at this time in our lives, it made sense to go in this direction.
Q: Allie, you mentioned that you’re in Austin and the guys are in LA at the moment, are the different locations ever an issue? How often are The Good Mad together?
Allie: Unfortunately when I’m filming The Lying Game, we really don’t get to see each other that often. During this second season, the boys formed a new music project aside from TGM, and I’ve continued to write and play violin with a local Austin band. So the fact that we’re apart hasn’t stopped us from playing music. We know we have something special though, and when time and the universe permits, we’ll create together. It’s almost like a home base for us. We know it’s always there if and when we want it, but it doesn’t prevent us from going out and exploring other adventures.
Q: What are you’re future plans and what can listeners look forward to?
Allie: We’re not sure of the future, but hopefully we will have some shows scheduled in Los Angeles. Perhaps a small west coast tour would be a possibility as well. Nothing’s set in stone as far as the rest of the year is concerned. We do plan to release an 8 song album entitled Strangeworthy, in January or February of 2013. It will be a full collection of all The Good Mad songs featured on The Lying Game. The best way to keep up with us is on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, the links are below. Mainly we want to say thank you to the fans for listening and we’re so happy that so many of you have connected with our music. We are infinitely grateful for the opportunity to create, and it’s a wonderful thing that we all get to share in the experience.