Win Tix To See The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn @ TLA



When Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn was growing up in suburban Minneapolis in the shag-carpeted ’70s, there was nothing musical about the family Finn, nothing at all. Nobody played an instrument. Nobody played records on the stereo. They did not even sing show tunes on long car rides. But when he was eight years old Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham choked to death on his own vomit, and that’s when he discovered the awesome, mood-altering, life-changing power of rock n’ roll. Up until this point he’d thought of rock n’ roll as nothing more than the interstitial music between the zany capers and wacky hijinks on The Monkees and The Bay City Rollers. But judging by the trail of tears running down the apple-hued CRAIG FINN_HOLD STEADY BY CRAIG HORKYcheeks of his babysitter — a pretty neighborhood teen he had a secret crush on — this was an Important Cultural Moment, right up there with the bombing of Pear Harbor and the Kennedy assassination. His babysitter made him listen to Led Zeppelin A-Z that day and there would be no turning back. One day, he vowed with God as his witness, he would make pretty girls cry when he died. This remains a work in progress.

This year Finn turns 43 and the The Hold Steady turns 12. The kids at their shows now have kids of their own, as the song goes. In the spring of 2014, The Hold Steady released Teeth Dreams, their sixth studio album, not counting the six EPs and a live album. If they were The Replacements, this would be their Don’t Tell A Soul. It’s been four years since The Hold Steady released an album, which is something like 16 in rock n’ roll years. Entire presidencies, college football careers, and world wars come and go in the space of four years. In that time the band came closer to ceasing to exist than anyone in the band cares to admit out loud. Ego, exhaustion, addiction and communication breakdown — the great hunger-makers of rock n’ roll’s infamously insatiable appetite for self-destruction — have left their scars, as they invariably do to bands around the sixth album mark. Which only goes to CRAIG FINN_HOLD STEADY BY CRAIG HORKYshow that there is always a crack where the darkness gets in, and even a critically-acclaimed band that has publicly waved the flag of positivity high and mightily, is not immune to private despair. Fortunately, the members, all at or nearing 40something, were mature and self aware enough to recognize the warning signs and course correct before it was too late.

So they took some time off. Finn started working on a novel and then flew to Austin and recorded a well-received solo album and toured it for a year, guitarist/primary songwriter Tad Kubler got clean, drummer Bobby Drake bought a bar in Brooklyn with Spoon’s Rob Pope, keyboardist Franze Nicolay took his leave and was replaced by noted Memphian six-string shredder Steve Selvidge (son of the late, great folksinger/recordist/indie label pioneer Sid Selvidge, a pillar of the Memphis music scene for five decades who will be remembered for, if nothing else, having the sheer balls to release Alex Chilton’s Like Flies On Sherbet, one of rock n’ roll’s all-time great hot messes). They got new management, a new label, a new producer and a whole new attitude — more heart, less cowbell. And unto the world a new Hold Steady album CRAIG FINN_HOLD STEADY BY CRAIG HORKYwas born in the spring of 2014.

After touring Teeth Dreams through the latter half of 2014, the band went dark again. The NEWS section of the official Hold Steady web site hasn’t been updated since last September. More recently, Hold Steady guitarist Tad Kubler re-surfaced as the touring guitarist for Courtney Love/Hole’s current tour with Lana Del Rey. Meanwhile Finn is currently in the midst of a string of solo dates — which brings him to the TLA tomorrow night, opening up for the Heartless Bastards — and has been telling crowds a new solo album is imminent. If I were a betting man, I would say that The Hold Steady are not long for the world. Be that as it may, we have a coupla pairs of tickets to see Craig Finn and the Heartless Bastards as the TLA tomorrow night. To qualify to win, send us an email @ FEED@PHAWKER.COM with the correct answer to the following Hold Steady trivia question: What do you do if they ask about Charlemagne? Put the words KILLER PARTIES in the subject line and include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!