The New Old-Fashioned is a rock and roll and alt-country band from Dayton, Ohio. Led by vocalist and songwriter David Payne, the voices and instruments of Kent Montgomery (guitar), Tom Blackbern (bass) and Matt Oliver (drums) are very present in the New Old-Fashioned’s signature sound: big, choral vocal harmonies atop a thick Americana backdrop.
Upon first listen, TNOF’s primary influences will become apparent: picture the heartland rock of Tom Petty or the Old 97’s paired with the big vocals of the Beach Boys or Queen. The band’s latest release, the 7″ single “Ladies” b/w “Indie Movie Scenes,” show’s off the band’s diversity in both tone and tempo. The A-Side begins as a tender country-swing ballad before breaking into an easy mid-tempo swirl of guitars, organ and harmonies. The B-side, in contrast, is all jangle-pop muscle: it’s easily the band at its fastest and hardest, delivering a Queen-level finish overtop pounding punk rock drums. The single was recorded with producer Patrick Himes (Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch, Shrug, Bonneville) at Reel Love Recording Company in Nashville, TN, who helped thicken the band’s sound and also provided organ and additional guitar.
As of late the band has been building a considerable following during regional touring in support of the 7″. Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Payne to talk about their influences, the importance of building friendships on the road, working with Himes and more. This is what he told us.
Weren’t you a bit of a solo artist before form The New Old-Fashioned?
Well, Matt, our drummer, and I started our first serious band right out of high school. When that band broke up in 2008, I started booking some solo shows just out of a need to keep writing and performing. I had every intention of starting another band as soon as the opportunity arose until…
One of my very first solo gigs was opening up for my friends The Story Changes. Mark and Poppy were both really responsive to what I was doing with my solo work and invited me to open up the acoustic stage at their annual HoliDayton showcase. That’s where I met Joe Anderl, who was still playing mostly solo at the time. After speaking with and seeing Joe perform that night (That performance is still to this day one of my favorite and most influential sets I’ve ever seen.) I started to realize that you could give a compelling performance and have success as a solo artist.
So, I cut a solo album with the help of my good friend Dustin and started playing as many shows as I could in support of it. Meanwhile, Kent, our guitar player, was in the same position. His first band broke up the same summer and he was playing solo shows as well. So, we started playing a lot of shows together, which eventually lead to us playing sets as a duo. That situation naturally evolved into us wanting to start a band together.
What was it about the chemistry you found with these guys that encouraged you to make it a band?
We’ve all known each other for a long time. Kent and Tom are cousins and Matt and I have been best friends since we were twelve years old. We all grew up in the same town, went to the same high school, and sang in the same choir. These guys are my best friends in the world.
It doesn’t hurt that they’re all great and unique players either. They surprise me all the time by continuing to raise the bar for themselves and our band. Playing solo has its own rewards but for me, there is nothing like playing loud rock-n-roll music with your best friends in front of people who want to hear you. That’s home for me.
Did your parents expose you to music at early ages? What experiences helped to shape your individual output?
None of us really come from musical families, but we did all have music around growing up. Two of the most important parts of my musical development came from my mother and my grandmother. Neither know a whole lot about music; they just really enjoy listening to it. When I was a kid, my grandma had this cassette tape in her mini van. It was a collection of all the Billboard number ones from 1957, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, all the greats from the late 50’s. Those songs remain some of my favorites to this day. I recently gave a CD reissue of that collection to my grandma as a gift. It was a really great moment for both of us.
Another big influence was my mom’s love for The Beatles. When I was an early teenager it seemed like they were the only thing she was listening to. I remember she would sing along to the harmony parts, which fascinated me at the time. I think it was because I was just starting to really become aware of melody and harmony and how important they can be. I love her more than she’ll ever know for that.
I know the other guys have similar experiences as well. I remember growing up, Matt’s Dad would always have bands like Pink Floyd and CCR on his old turntable. I’ve heard Kent tell stories about singing Tom Petty and Rolling Stones songs with his parents at a really early age. Tom got a lot of his early music in the church with his mom and still to this day will lend his own skills to the church band on occasion.
Another huge influence for all four of us is our high school choir director, Mark Manley. He taught us the important parts of making music as a group, instead of just individuals. He taught us musical skills like dynamics and control. In addition, he taught us how to have the discipline to work hard and push us ourselves to make music at the height of our ability and to do it with passion. We’re forever grateful for that.
The band has been busy as of late with regional touring. What have been your favorite experiences on the road?
Well, we’ve been doing as much as we can. We’re sort of on the weekend warrior circuit right now, with full time jobs and what not. We have hit a few different regional markets though. We have had some really good shows in Columbus.
Our favorite experience outside of the Dayton area was probably this last trip out to Springfield, IL and Muncie, IN. Everyone treated us so well and we made new friends in both towns.
As our network expands, it make it a lot easier. The support of others is crucial on the road. Whether that be family and friends giving you food and lodging, the other bands welcoming you warmly and doing their best to promote the show, or most important, just kind-hearted people who come out to see you play and give you some feedback.
There are some country and alt-country influences that leach into your sound. Where do those come from?
Well, that comes mostly from Kent and I, who do the majority of the writing and general directing of where the songs go. I think Kent said it best when he said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Country music is something we all grew up around and you sort of rebel against that at first, which is where our punk and other heavier influences come from.
As we started to get a little older we realized that American roots music is just a part of us whether we like it or not, and it was gonna come out. We just decided to embrace it instead of fighting it.” Matt and Tom have come around a lot to that sort of thinking but they still keep us rocking, which is one of the things I love about our band dynamic.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are probably our single biggest influence as a band and I think it’s because of their acknowledgement of American roots music, while at the same time just being one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time and writing some of the best songs in modern music.
How did you meet Patrick Himes and what did he bring to the table on both the latest 7″ and the self-titled?
Patrick and I met while working on the grand opening crew at a corporate guitar store that opened in Dayton years ago. It was a miserable company to work for, but I wouldn’t trade my experience there for the world because that was my crash course in Dayton music. At the time, Patrick was playing in a band called Flyaway Minion along with Tim Pritchard, who also worked with us. Seeing Flyaway Minion at Canal Street Tavern was my first real Dayton rock show. Patrick is a great producer, engineer, musician, and all around great dude. The guy eats, sleeps, and breathes rock and roll. He’s really big on honest, raw, analog-feeling production, even when working in protools, which is really what we wanted for these first two records. I mean the guy has worked with Ethan Johns, Ryan Adams, and even more important to us, Shrug. I remember telling Patrick when we were first discussing the full length, “If it sounds half as good as ‘Whole Hog for the Macho Jesus’, I’ll be happy.” His response was, “Dude, we recorded that in a dank basement. It should sound even better than that.” Which is of course laughable to me to think that our record was gonna sound better than that masterpiece, but I loved the idea of it.
There is also something very romantic about recording in Nashville. I mean, it’s music city! Patrick helped us really capture the tone of this band as a producer/engineer as well as lending his exceptional talents on the Hammond organ to both the full length and the 7″. He also played the outro guitar solo on “Ladies”, which really helped wrap up the song. His collection of badass vintage gear is pretty nice as well.
You are currently writing your sophomore record, right? How are these sessions shaping up?
I’d say we are about 75 percent done writing and arranging it. We’ve even been playing some of the songs live here and there. Giving them a little bit of trial run, so-to-speak. We’re really happy with the direction the songs are headed. The first batch of stuff was all songs either Kent or I had written before the band actually started. We’re writing the new stuff either all together, or at least with this particular band in mind. That’s definitely sending it in a more of rocking direction, but it’s not completely devoid of our roots influences. It’s just a little closer to the way we have the most fun playing live, rowdy but dynamic, with big three part harmonies.
Will you work with Patrick again for the recording of this record?
We love Patrick and recording in Nashville is awesome. On the other hand, getting four guys with full time jobs and other obligations to Tennessee for the amount of time we’d like to put into this next record is a real challenge. We’re not exactly sure what we’re going to do as far as recording goes for the next record. Patrick will always have a huge role in our band and we wouldn’t be where we are without him. He will always be one of our preferred recording producers/engineers. So, I’ll never rule him, Reel Love Recording Company, and Nashville out of any TNOF recording project, but there is a good chance this one’s gonna happen closer to home. We are very anxious to get started, and really excited about our possibilities.
How did you come to team with Toxic Beauty for the 7″ release? Will they be releasing the sophomore record?
Josh Castleberry (owner/operator) runs a great little vinyl record store and poster gallery in Yellow Springs in addition to the label. I spend a lot of time in the shop. As anybody who’s spent a decent amount of time in his store knows, the only thing Josh loves more than vinyl records is talking about vinyl records, and so do I. We got to chatting one day, as usual. I knew he had released a 7″ for a local Yellow Springs band, and we had one ready to go, so I just asked him if he’d be interest in doing another one. I got him a rough mix of the songs and he liked them. Simple as that.
As far as the next record goes, I think Josh is mainly focused on releasing smaller, more limited run stuff on Toxic Beauty for now. So the 7″ is a perfect medium for him and his label at the moment. We have had some hint of label interest in the next full-length record, but not much yet, so if anybody reading is interested…
What else do you have planned for the remainder of 2014?
We are wrapping up the end of our fall dates as we speak. We plan on laying low for the majority of the winter so we can focus on various recording projects, including our next full length, a compilation, and a split EP that we’re currently recording with our best buds, The Repeating Arms, which will be out on Gas Daddy Go records in 2015!
(Catch the band live here:
Oct 17th: Columbus, Ohio with the Pleasant Tense and The High Definitions
Oct 18th: Dayton, Ohio with the Pleasant Tense and The High Definitions)