I interviewed Jonathan Rich. The singer/guitar player/founder of the new band The Goodfight from Atlanta, GA.
Paul: First off give us a little history about yourself and how you got started in music?
-Jonathan: I played basketball all the way through elementary and junior high and thought I might have a chance at being the next Larry Bird…then fate stepped in and detonated my appendix at the end of my eighth grade year. It took me about 6 months to recover from a laundry list full of complications and then I got cut in the 9th grade. By 10th grade I had gotten back to a normal physical state and was playing pretty well but the teams were already settled from the previous year and i pretty much didn’t have a chance of getting on the team. So I needed to find a new hobby.
There was a band starting up at my youth group at church and they needed a guitar player. I thought it might be fun so I got a Washburn acoustic for Christmas and started learning church songs. Somewhere in there music became a passion and basketball became a hobby. I was always singing….like out of the womb I was singing.
My parents were both real involved in music at church, they played piano as kids, and had a good ear for stuff, and so I just always sang. I was the dorky kid with the solo every year at the Christmas Program for school.
So about a year after starting to teach myself guitar i realized it might be fun to start writing songs. That was my junior year about 17 years of age. I wrote some really bad songs, but for some reason kids at my school and parents and weird people liked them.
Next thing you knew I pulled together a group of hoodlums to play with me and we were the hottest things at Lakeside High school. Not because we were good, but because we held guitars and didn’t sing Dave Matthews covers. Anyways since then I’ve been in a few bands and tried to surround myself with good players, innovators, thinkers, and dreamers while learning every chance I get.
Paul: How did you come about starting up The Goodfight?
-Jonathan: Well I was in a band called The Local Story for about three years in college and we had a three front man thing going where everybody wrote really different stuff. I was the primary writer though, and was always trying to go a different way than the rest of the guys. So we finally broke up and I started writing some songs that were directly in line with my passion for melodic anathematic rock and roll and then set some dates with Matt Goldman to record them. Out of that the Goodfight was born. Matt and a guy named Alex Peterson did the drum and bass tracks for me and then I laid down most everything else. Then Brad Wilson (my manager) and I began looking for some guys to play the record live. We found them and released the record in April.
Paul: How does the usual song writing process work for you?
-Jonathan: An idea or a phrase will pop up and I’ll write it down then when I can get to a guitar I’ll find a riff that I like (I am always writing random riffs and lines on the guitar) and start singing. Once it sounds catchy I’ll start building verses around the hook. If the song needs a little extra umph IÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½ll add a bridge or a mad 80’s Ibanez guitar solo…and so on and so forth. Everything usually falls into place after I nail down the hook.
Paul: So everything usually starts with you on guitar?
-Jonathan: Well yeah after I figure out what the context lyrically will be…then I go to the guitar.
Paul: So when you recorded with Matt Goldman you went in there pretty much by yourself to record the whole CD?
–Jonathan: Yeah it was really a backwards way of doing it…and there were some downfalls to going that route, but at the time it felt like the right thing to do and we really fell like it turned out well for being one guys influences and ideas. That being said…if life was perfect I would much rather have a band and then a record….rather than a record and then a band.
Paul: How was the recording process with matt?
-Jonathan: Phenomenal!! Matt Goldman is THE MOST underpaid producer out there. If you walked into his space you would probably knock your jaw on the floor because the sounds he pulls out of the space he works in are unbelievable. He has a phenomenal ear and is really great at coaching the project along rather than taking over. Not to mention he has been a part of some real influential records the past couple of years. For the level he is at there are few guitar and drum tones that are better, in my opinion.
It was cool because since I worked by myself we took a while on the project working three hours here three hours there. Over a period of three months I got to know him and his tech/friend Troy really well. It was definitely a non traditional approach to recording a CD, but I don’t know if I would endorse it and start putting out commercials about how everyone should record a record over a four month span for two hours at a time and without a band.
Paul: I was told there were also some special guests on the record? Who else took part in the recording process?
-Jonathan: Yeah…Andy Lee who was in Cartel at the time came into the studio one night. He was in love with the acoustic track Ãƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½She BreathesÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½ and desperately wanted to play drums for it. Matt had already laid down a track for that song that we were really fond of. So we just were playing around and Andy went in and laid down a track for the title track Ãƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½Home AgainÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½ and after like four takes he nailed it. We kept it and that was that. Some other guys on the record included the drummer of Wellwater (former Atlanta band on the Mono vs. Stereo compilation) Pete Greenwald, Troy (guitar player for Small Town Poets and Matt’s good friend), and the old guitar player from Arkitek clapped on a track.
Paul: You mentioned that Matt Goldman played some drums on a few tracks. What tracks did he take part in?
-Jonathan: He played drums for the songs Beautiful, Mr. Temporary, She Breathes, Where Its at (A revolution), and Song For the Summer
Paul: That is awesome I heard he is a good drummer.
-Jonathan: Yeah he’s pretty much the best in town. HeÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½d never say that though
Paul: It’s cool that you had your producer play on your CD as well not many bands have that happen.
Jonathan: Yeah I think it really gives the record a cool feel. It was weird switching roles. When we got ready to lay down those songs Matt would walk into the recording room and sit down at the kit. Then I would put on some headphones and press record. It was a lot fun and it definitely didn’t hurt the overall turnout of the record. If anything it just helped. You know that he wasnÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½t going to let the songs he played on turn out sounding really bad.
Paul: As for a band, who all is playing with you live now? And how did they come in contact with you?
-Jonathan: Well Andy Lee and I hooked up in February and talked about doing some stuff together. He was working on some solo stuff post-cartel with Brian from Copelad and I was trying to release my record. He agreed to play some shows with me, until he got his new stuff up and running. Then I had some friends that were dismantling a local band called Ãƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½Someday VegasÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½. The bass player was a great friend and their singer was looking to get really serious about keys, synth, loops, and kazoo. So we all got together and they agreed to learn the record and play some shows with me. If you come to a Good Fight show today that’s who’ll you’ll find on stage
Paul: Are these guys planning on being members in your band full time?
-Jonathan: I wouldnÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½t say that as of now. Andy has his new project that will more than likely become permanent at some point and when that comes the other guys might fall into place with that since it is still on the ground level and unpolished. The guys from Someday Vegas are innovative and extremely creative and they are excited about starting from scratch and creating something from nothing rather than committing to something that has already been recorded, released, and bought up by the girl down the street. I think that they probably don’t fit into that category as of now. The guys are just considered as a temporary live band as of now, but you never know how things will work out.
Paul: So are you and the guys from Someday Vegas writing new songs for the Goodfight?
-Jonathan: Yeah…I am working on some new stuff and the guys are helping me out a little here and there. Since we just released the record 4 months ago we’ve been concentrating on playing those songs and putting together a really tight live show. But I’ve got some new stuff that the keyboard player, Thomas, and I are hopefully going to be working on in the next few months
Paul: Well speaking of live shows. Describe some of the shows you have played.
-Jonathan: We got really lucky and had an opportunity to play in a battle of the bands sponsored by 99x, the local rock station here in Atlanta, for our first show. Then we played our CD Release with Small Town Poets(Matt GoldmanÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½s band) and a band called Winston Audio. And two weeks later we played at the Loft which is the 1200 person club here in ATL for the finals of that Battle of the bands. All three of those shows were pretty huge. Since then we’ve been playing spot dates here in Atlanta and in Athens with bands like Honestly and Rude Buddha.
Paul: When you write you lyrics what usually inspires you the most?
-Jonathan: Probably the extremes of life. To me life is a story of the war between two ends. It is where hope meets pain and honesty meets insincerity. So most of my songs come from questions about why we are stuck in the middle. They are the search for reasons why we are never who we want to be, and why the grass is greener and the sky is bluer in the next big thing. Than a few of them are about my fiancÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½, whom I might add is amazing.
Paul: What song on the CD would you say has the most inspiring lyrics?
-Jonathan: I have a few favorites. Ãƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½Home againÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½ and Ãƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½RevolutionÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½ really communicate a theme that I tried to create throughout the record…that being that we are all caught up in the race for something more. No matter where that race takes us our heart desires to return to the same place. That is home….redemption…safety…completion. For me the hugest part of music is the pedestal you have to express something. Every avenue art grants the artist that opportunity. For a lot of bands the expression is in the music…intricate guitars parts or really phenomenal melodies. For me it’s in the lyrics. If there wasn’t substance to what my songs said I wouldn’t feel like they were worth much.
Paul: What bands/songwriters have inspired you the most?
-Jonathan: Man the list is long….and weird. At the top of the list my favorite frontman/songwriter/philospher/etc. is John Foreman (Switchfoot) after that the list goes something like Further Seems Forever, Jimmy Eat World, Winston Audio, Frank Sinatra, Dave Grohl, Billie Holiday, Elvis, The Beatles, U2 (duh), For All the Drifters, James Brown, Sleeping At Last, Billy Corgan, The Beach Boys, and The Juliana Theory.
Paul: As for the band is there any label interest being shown?
-Jonathan: Well…we just signed a distribution deal with Trolley Bus Records in Japan and they will be releasing Home Again there in September. As far as the U.S. goes…we met a bunch of label representatives at those battle of the bands and they were all excited. There are also a few small indie labels out of Nashville that have shown some interest but everything is very premature still so we are just concentrating on progressing as a band and getting the record out. Hopefully as that ambition grows, the labels will start paying more and more attention.
Paul: So as of right now you are mostly trying to gain a larger fan base?
-Jonathan: Yes, that is correct. Especially fans that visit rad websites like drivenfaroff.com. Those kinds of fans get a free coffee mug
Paul: So what type of tour plans do you have in the future?
-Jonathan: Well we’d like to do an 8-10 city southeast tour this fall and start building a fan base around those cities. But we are also toying around with the idea of doing some college campus shows, maybe a little of both. I am hoping it will kick start the progress for us of attracting people from other cities.
Paul: Well just to let the fans get to know you better we have some more personal questions non relating to the band.
What is your favorite CD of 2005?
-Jonathan: My favorite record as of now would probably be…Copeland Ãƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½In MotionÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½.
Paul: Most anticipated release of 2005?
-Jonathan: Ãƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½Nothing Is SoundÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½ from Switchfoot
Paul: Favorite food?
-Jonathan: Little five points pizza
Paul: 3 things you couldn’t live without?
-Jonathan: Bible, Callie Grady, Black Converse All Stars
Paul: What do you do when you aren’t with the band or playing music?
-Jonathan: I dabble in video editing, graphic design, and play music and do art integration at my church. I also like to throw the aerobie (frisbee) and ride my bike in the park.
Paul: Well, I’ll just give you this time to promote or talk about anything you want to mention.
-Jonathan: Well the record is out at smartpunk and cdbaby and everyone who reads this article is beautiful.
Come visit The Goodfight at
Or if you want to go old school go to www.jonathanrichmusic.com
Paul: Well I really want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. It has been an honor to talk to you today.
-Jonathan: Thanks man sincerely, the feeling is mutual. Yeah thanks so much for the opportunity. DFO for president!