THE HOLD STEADY
Things to know about The Hold Steady:
TEETH DREAMS: A song-by-song breakdown with Tad Kubler & Craig Finn:
1. I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You
There are several things going on here: In the early spring of 2012, we decided to get together and try and work through some ideas. Finn was out on tour doing his own thing and we wanted to make sure to stay creatively limber as a band. Galen, Bobby and I went down to Memphis where Steve has a little home studio behind his house. We holed up there for a week in February and a week in March, 2012 and banged out a lot of material.
This is a song about meeting up with some old friends that aren’t such good dudes anymore. Maybe they never were, but you didn’t used to mind.
This was one of the last songs to be written for the record. The creative process seemed endless, and at this stage it became difficult to trust myself. I could no longer tell what was good and what wasn’t and I needed perspective. Somebody that didn’t have a horse in the race, a person who I had enough in common with sonically and aesthetically. Joby Ford became that person. Joby from The Bronx is somebody who I’d been writing music with for the last couple years and I came to rely on him pretty heavily to tell me what was good and what still needed work. He called me right away and said, “Dude, great. This is a Hold Steady song. Don’t meddle with it anymore.” I sent it off to the guys and we started rehearsing it the next day. But it wouldn’t become the song it is now until we got to Nashville.
I think there is something beautiful and hopeful about watching someone all dressed up riding the train into the city.
3. The Only Thing
This is a song we demoed more than almost any other song in the history of this band. But it didn’t really change all that much from the first demo I did in my living room with John Agnello in the summer of 2011. Steve and I worked on the bridge for it and eventually settled on this. I think it sounds like Jefferson Airplane.
There is this great part of Infinite Jest (novel by David Foster Wallace) where Hal tells his brother Mario that he has been dreaming of teeth. Mario says it’s a pretty common dream. Then Hal says he isn’t dreaming about his own teeth, but someone else’s teeth. And then the bills start showing up for these teeth.
4. The Ambassador
This is another song I started at home and we finished in Memphis early 2012. I had this little guitar line that I was kicking around. While we were in Memphis, we wrote a lot of rockers. I felt something a little more dynamic and “vibey” was in order. Initially, this song was in standard tuning, but down in Memphis, Steve had this old Epiphone that was tuned to open E. I really wanted to play this guitar, and it sounded really cool the way it was tuned. So I had to rework part of the song around the tuning. Sometimes it’s the journey.
This one might have come together the quickest of any song on the record. The guys wrote it in Memphis and I got the lyrics really quickly after hearing the music. It really didn’t change a whole lot after that.
5. On With The Business
Another song from the sessions in Memphis. One of my favorite songs on the record. There is something absolutely sinister about this song. Some of my absolute favorite Craig Finn moments.
This is one of the many songs on the record that mentions “truth”. In this case it’s something “technically true”. During the past few years, I’ve been really interested with the idea of how manipulating the truth affects our anxiety levels. We have so many ways to lie to each other these days. To tell a pure truth often feels like a relief and can be euphoric. Lies can be so nerve wracking, especially when you have a few to keep straight.
6. Big Cig
This song came out of some stuff I recorded in the summer of 2011. It changed a lot from the initial recording. Almost more than any other song.
A 120mm length cigarette might be more cost effective, but they always look ridiculous.
7. Wait A While
I was screwing around with the opening riff for “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh and stumbled upon this one. This song came together in less than a few minutes. It felt like one of those moments you only hear about. But it literally happened so fast, nobody was really sure what we’d done.
Early in the sessions for this record, our producer Nick Raskulinecz told me my vocals reminded him of David Lee Roth. I had not heard this before, but I took it as a huge compliment. I love DLR era Van Halen. This song might have a similar sentiment as “Jamie’s Crying”, although the whole album is more in the vein of Fair Warning, I think.
8. Runner’s High
This is a song Steve brought in. He sent me a demo of this early 2011. It’s got a great swagger. I think this one evolved a little from the initial idea, but not much. It was rock ready.
I wouldn’t listen to this song if you are running a marathon. The chorus says “I’m so sick of running”. That said, I’ve found a runner’s high to be one of the safest, cheapest, and most durable highs.
9. Almost Everything
This is a song that went through some pretty radical changes since it started as a demo in early 2011. We were playing it as a full band and loud and then added this outro to it (this happens a lot). The outro made it about 7 minutes. We continued to flesh it out. and when Nick heard it, he wasn’t sure what he thought of it. He definitely said, ‘Why is that ending bit on there?’ So we ditched that.
When we got to Nashville, he had us do a version of the song with Steve and I playing acoustic guitars. We sat across from each other in the main tracking room as Finn sang in the booth. We did that and I then kinda forgot about it. We finished tracking the rest of the record. Did rough mixes of all the songs. The last night of the recording process we were finishing up and Nick pulled up this track and got a mix going. It sounded like a nice chance to breathe after what had turned into a really dense rock record. We had completely stripped this song down to nothing but the absolute essential pieces. I figured we’d go back and retrack things. Instead it was decided to leave things the way they were.
Finn wanted to rewrite the lyrics. I liked what he had and his initial performance was cool and laid back. We gave him about 30 minutes and then he went in the control room with Nick. They came out and we went in and listened. I got up and walked out of the control room. I needed a moment.
The line about Franklin TN was a bunch of other Southern cities first – Atlanta, Nashville, Augusta, etc. It had to be somewhere a Waffle House would be. I ended up using Franklin because we recorded there. That said, I never ate at the Waffle House in Franklin, although we drove by it every day.
I did the first demo for Oaks about 2 years ago in my apartment. It was comprised of four acoustic guitar tracks that, when I had all the delay and reverb and shit on them, almost started to sound like they were being played in a round. And then the last acoustic track being the melody line that Finn uses throughout the middle 8 of the final version.
The impetus for this track started from an obsession with the Radiohead song “Exit Music For A Film.” I’m not saying this is even remotely as good, or even resembles that song at this point, but I wanted a song to end this record that was ominous and haunting and gave you this cinematic scope of what was going on. I can honestly say, there was a period of about two years where I believed this would be the last record Craig and I would make together. And I wanted to have a track ready to close out the album that would sound like things weren’t ever going to be the same.
I worked on the demo for about a year before I handed it off to Finn. When he heard it, he mentioned that it gave him a real seasick feeling. Bobby helps to anchor that a bit and when Finn finally wrote lyrics for it this past summer, the whole thing came together far better than I could have expected. The last chorus, before the outro when Finn sings “Call for a taxi, climb into the backseat…” the first time he sang it, the fucking hair on my arms stood up and it felt like somebody just walked over my grave. I was like, “Holy shit. This really sounds like this is the last time I’m seeing somebody…”
Anyone who has a long, sordid history with drugs knows there are times when you would say goodbye to somebody, and as they turned to walk away, you know it’s going be the last time you ever see them alive. And that last chorus feels like that – waiting for that phone call. And then the whole thing shifts again with “…and we dream.”
I think this is the longest song on any THS record. The shortest song title too, I think.
THE HOLD STEADY CELEBRATE
BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA
WITH THREE NIGHT STAND AT BROOKLYN BOWL
NYC-BASED ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BAND COMMEMORATE ALBUM’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY
WITH COMPLETE PERFORMANCES SET FOR DECEMBER 1, 2, 3
UNIFIED SCENE FAN COMMUNITY PRE-SALE BEGINS WEDNESDAY, JULY 20TH AT 10 AM ET
GENERAL ON-SALE STARTS FRIDAY, JULY 22ND AT 10 AM ET
CELEBRATIONS ALREADY SLATED FOR RIOT FEST AND TORONTO URBAN ROOTS FEST
The Hold Steady has announced a very special series of shows celebrating the 10th anniversary of their classic third album, BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA. The New York-based rock ‘n’ roll band will perform the album in its entirety over three extraordinary nights at their home borough’s Brooklyn Bowl, slated for December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Support will come from a different special guest each night.
The newly announced dates mark The Hold Steady’s only official headline shows of 2016. The band will also perform BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA in its entirety at this year’s Riot Fest, set to rock Denver, CO’s National Western Complex on Saturday, September 3rd and Chicago, IL’s Douglas Park on Saturday, September 17th, as well as at Toronto, ON’s Toronto Urban Roots Fest (TURF) on Friday, September 16th. BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA celebrations will continue through October 2017, spanning the entirety of the album’s 10th anniversary year. All announced BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA performances will see The Hold Steady joined by keyboardist Franz Nicolay.
Members of the official Hold Steady fan community, The Unified Scene, will receive an exclusive pre-sale password within the next 24 hours, with BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA Celebration ticket pre-sales running Wednesday, July 20th at 10 am ET through Thursday, July 21st at 11:59 pm; all remaining tickets will then be released to the general public on Friday, July 22nd at 10 am. Complete details and ticket information HERE.
Released October 3rd, 2006, BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA officially affirmed The Hold Steady as one of the most singular outfits in rock ‘n’ roll history, equal parts hard-traveling bar band, sonically adventurous indie rockers, and master chroniclers of the lost and broken-hearted. Songs like “Chips Ahoy!” and “Stuck Between Stations” proved transcendent modern rock classics, fueled by epic hooks, massive choruses, and singer/guitarist Craig Finn’s utterly unique lyricism and intensely detailed songcraft.
Named by Pitchfork as one of the “Top 100 Albums of The 2000s” as well as the Best Album of 2006 by both Magnet and A.V. Club, BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA earned The Hold Steady rapturous reviews from around the world, with Rolling Stone declaring the album “a sweet thing…fist-pumpable rock with brains, heart and words worth coming back to.” “Finn’s lyrics have a big-picture approach,” said Pitchfork, “allowing listeners to fill details of their own lives into the songs rather than be required to commit fully to those of his characters… He remains one of the best writers in rock, demonstrating grit and spunk and wit and intelligence in each track.” “The music is as rich and detailed as (Finn’s) wordplay,” raved MOJO, while Blender‘s Chuck Eddy noted, “(Finn’s) insanely verbose yarn-spinning still links 1973 Bruce Springsteen to 1982 Mark E. Smith; and his Minneapolis-via-Brooklyn band sounds beefier and more melodramatic than ever…(The Hold Steady) may be the smartest band in the land.” “(The band’s) bar-room rock – all power chords and fist-pumping choruses – is a perfect, if counter-intuitive accompaniment to Finn’s downbeat tales,” wrote The Guardian‘s Michael Hann in five-out-of-five starred rave. “Finn’s writing is sharper than ever,” exclaimed Uncut‘s Allan Jones, “by turns exclamatory, epigrammatic and grainily authentic… Musically, too, The Hold Steady are tighter, wholly as exciting at times as the E Street Band in their turbo-charged prime… this is often deafening arena rock, unashamedly so, a ferocious methamphetamine rush, urgent, at times almost out of control, a vast swampy roar.”
The Hold Steady’s sixth and most recent studio album, TEETH DREAMS, was released in 2014 on their own Positive Jam label via Washington Square/Razor & Tie.
The Hold Steady is: Bobby Drake (drums), Craig Finn (vocals), Tad Kubler (guitar, vocals), Franz Nicolay (keyboards), Galen Polivka (bass), and Steve Selvidge (guitar, vocals).
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THE HOLD STEADY ANNOUNCE RIOT FEST PERFORMANCES
AT BOTH DENVER AND CHICAGO INSTALLMENTS
BAND TO PERFORM SEMINAL ALBUM BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA
IN FULL FOR ITS 10TH ANNIVERSARY
GROUP TO REISSUE ALMOST KILLED ME AND SEPARATION SUNDAY
THIS FALL VIA FRENCHKISS RECORDS
(NEW YORK, NY) – The Hold Steady are excited to announce that they will be performing at both installments of this year’s Riot Fest in Denver (September 2-4) and Chicago (September 16-18). For these shows, the group will be performing their seminal 2006 record Boys And Girls In America in full to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its release. The group will be reuniting with original keyboardist Franz Nicolay for both performances, and tickets are on sale now. The Hold Steady will also be reissuing their beloved albums Almost Killed Me (2004) and Separation Sunday (2005) on vinyl this fall via Frenchkiss Records. More details on these reissues are forthcoming. Now in their second decade, The Hold Steady formed in 2003 in Brooklyn, NY, and, with their vibrant mixture of punk ethos and classic rock pedigree punctuated by lyrically dense storytelling and guitar riffs, quickly became a critically acclaimed rock band with a rabid fan base to match. In May 2005, The Hold Steady were the first rock band to grace the front page of The Village Voice in 15 years. Boys and Girls in America was ranked No. 8 on the Rolling Stone “Best Albums of 2006” list, and No. 1 by The A.V. Club. Pitchforkwrote of the album, “[Craig Finn] not only has a commanding, rousing voice but he also says something worth hearing, displaying gifts for both scope and depth that are all too rare in contemporary rock – indie or mainstream.” Since 2004, The Hold Steady have released six studio albums via Frenchkiss, Vagrant and The Hold Steady Industries (via Razor & Tie). The Hold Steady is: Bobby Drake (Drums), Craig Finn (Vocals), Tad Kubler (Guitar, vocals), Galen Polivka (Bass) and Steve Selvidge (Guitar, vocals).
The Hold Steady (performing Boys And Girls In America) upcoming dates:
9/2-4 – Riot Fest – Denver, CO
9/16-18 – Riot Fest – Chicago, IL
THE HOLD STEADY UNVEIL DELUXE EDITIONS OF LANDMARK FIRST LPS
ALMOST KILLED ME AND SEPARATION SUNDAY TO BE REISSUED ON CD AND VINYL
BOTH LPS REMASTERED FROM ORIGINAL TAPES AND JOINED
BY PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED BONUS MATERIAL
FOUR-NIGHT STAND AT BROOKLYN BOWL SET FOR NOVEMBER 30TH, DECEMBER 1ST, 2ND, & 3RD
DELUXE EDITIONS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER STARTING TODAY, SEPTEMBER 13TH
ALMOST KILLED ME AND SEPARATION SUNDAY ARRIVE ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11TH
(New York, NY) Frenchkiss Records and The Hold Steady have announced the long awaited release of Deluxe Editions of the New York-based rock ‘n’ roll band’s milestone first two LPs, ALMOST KILLED ME and SEPARATION SUNDAY. Both albums will be available – on CD and vinyl – from Friday, November 11th.
ALMOST KILLED ME and SEPARATION SUNDAY have been remastered from the original tapes, with each now appended by an array of bonus material (see tracklistings below). ALMOST KILLED ME: DELUXE EDITION comes joined with five rare tracks, including the very first Hold Steady 7″ single, “Milkcrate Mosh,” and songs previously only available on the album’s original Australian CD release. SEPARATION SUNDAY: DELUXE EDITION features six additional tracks, including the never before available “212-Margarita” and “The Most Important Thing” along with previously unreleased demos of “Cattle and the Creeping Things,” “Charlemagne in Sweatpants,” and “Crucifixion Cruise.” All extras will be available on the Deluxe Edition CD releases and via vinyl download cards.
As if all that were not enough, ALMOST KILLED ME will be offered on bright blue vinyl, with SEPARATION SUNDAY pressed on pristine white vinyl. The Deluxe Edition LPs mark the first time both albums have been available on vinyl in more than a decade. Digital pre-orders of ALMOST KILLED ME will receive “Milkcrate Mosh” immediately and digital pre-orders of SEPARATION SUNDAY will receive “212-Margarita” instantly.
The Deluxe Editions arrive just as The Hold Steady embark on a very special series of shows celebrating the 10th anniversary of their classic third album, BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA. The band kicked off the festivities at Labor Day weekend’s Riot Fest in Denver, CO and will next perform the album in its entirety at Chicago, IL’s Riot Fest (Saturday, September 17th) and Toronto, ON’s Toronto Urban Roots Fest (TURF) (Sunday, September 18th). The Hold Steady will then take over their home borough’s Brooklyn Bowl for four extraordinary sold out BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA concerts, slated for November 30th, December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. For complete details, please log on to theholdsteady.net/shows.
The BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA concerts mark The Hold Steady’s only official headline shows of 2016. All announced BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA performances will see The Hold Steady joined by keyboardist Franz Nicolay, returning to the band’s live line-up after more than half a decade.
Released by Frenchkiss on March 16th, 2004, ALMOST KILLED ME instantly marked The Hold Steady as one of the most vital and original rock ‘n’ roll bands of the new millennium, blazing with the raw riffs and conceptual songcraft that continue to define their extraordinary canon. Kicking off with the classic “Positive Jam,” the album introduces singer/guitarist Craig Finn’s utterly unique lyricism and intensely detailed storytelling, a world of tough love, hard drugs, and barstool blues unlike any other before or since.
ALMOST KILLED ME received unanimous praise upon its arrival:
“Bizarrely touching and insanely original.”
“Born from the ashes of Minneapolis’ beloved Lifter Puller, The Hold Steady emerge as a bar band far too good for the bars, a spectacular mess of sprawling guitar, ferocious vocals, and well-channeled, raucous irritation…Earnest without being sentimental, and authentic without sounding contrived, The Hold Steady are one of the most convincing rock bands to emerge in recent years, a can-crushing throwdown of unadulterated aggression and ear-splitting amps.”
“A striking album about a world in which music both wrecks and saves lives, handing out instructions and inspiration like pills and powder.”
ALMOST KILLED ME was ultimately ranked at #2 on Rolling Stone‘s “100 Best Albums of the 2000s” tally, praising its “Springsteen-size cast of characters, lost kids staggering through America in search of sex, drugs and salvation. The band sounded so real and raw, so loaded with compassion and wit and raunch, they became a word-of-mouth sensation. Suddenly the 2000s didn’t look so hopeless after all.”
SEPARATION SUNDAY followed on May 3rd, 2005 and was greeted as The Hold Steady’s finest work to that point – a dazzling collection that forwarded the band’s distinctive sound and vision on virtually every level.
As with its predecessor, SEPARATION SUNDAY was also greeted by reams of critical applause:
“The elegiac Biblical lost-innocence junkie odyssey that Denis Johnson never wrote…(Finn is) the poet laureate of the loading dock behind the mall where the runaway kids get together to sniff cheap coke at 5 a.m.”
“SEPARATION SUNDAY is at once surreal and gloriously sweaty…a whirlwind tour through an overstuffed brain.”
“A triumph of non-judgmental storytelling delivered within purgative rock ‘n’ roll.”
5 stars The Guardian
“Chapter Two of indiedom’s most incisive soap opera…[Finn’s] stories unpack post-hardcore emotional verities, scene mythologies, and tragicomic punch lines.”
THE HOLD STEADY
Release Date: Friday, November 11th on CD & LP
ALMOST KILLED ME: DELUXE EDITION
3. Barfruit Blues
4.Most People Are DJs
10. Killer Parties
11. Milkcrate Mosh #
12. Hot Fries #
13. Curves and Nerves #
14.You Gotta Dance #
15. Modesto Is Not That Sweet #
SEPARATION SUNDAY: DELUXE EDITION
1. Hornets! Hornets!
2. Cattle and the Creeping Things
3. Your Little Hoodrat Friend
5. Charlemagne In Sweatpants
6. Stevie Nix
7. Multitude of Casualties
8. Don’t Let Me Explode
9. Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night
11. How a Resurrection Really Feels
12. 212-Margarita #
13.The Most Important Thing #
14.Cattle and the Creeping Things (Demo) #
15.Charlemagne in Sweatpants (Demo) #
16.Crucifixion Cruise (Guitar Demo) #
17.Crucifixion Cruise (Piano Demo) #
# Included on CD and Vinyl Download Card, Not on LP
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L to R: Craig Finn, Bobby Drake, Galen Polivka, Tad Kubler, Steve Selvidge
L to R: Bobby Drake, Steve Selvidge, Galen Polivka, Craig Finn, Tad Kubler
L to R: Craig Finn, Bobby Drake, Galen Polivka, Tad Kubler, Steve Selvidge