I spoke with Craig Finn while he was on a train, passing through Rhode Island on his way to his alma mater, Boston College, where he was to discuss his life and music.
On what the Hold Steady do
We’re not exactly reinventing the wheel. We’re getting up on stage and having a good time and playing rock and roll music. But to hear a lot of the people that we meet, it’s like no one’s doing that right now, or not that many people. And yet there’s obviously a void and a huge demand for it.
On the bond they have with their fans, and that the fans make with each other
I’d really like to sit down and do a six degrees of separation with what’s happening with the friendships that people make at our shows. As a performer that’s really exciting. It’s a testament, because all of us are rock and roll fans. It becomes a bonding thing, because I don’t think music happens in a vacuum, it’s all about the friendships and memories that you create.
On his best moment of ’07On opening for the Stones in Ireland
Lollapalooza was a big one, but you can’t get on stage with Springsteen and not pick that as your best [Craig sang most of “Rosalita” at the encore of the “Celebrating the Music of Bruce Springsteen/Music for Youth Benefit Concert”]. There were so many things that night — I mean, we were excited to play Carnegie Hall. You don’t really think as a member of the Hold Steady that Carnegie Hall is gonna be coming up quick. We’d rehearsed “Rosalita,” so I knew the lyrics pretty damn well. But that was just something else. He’s a hero and an influence and that was really spectacular. Lollapalooza was a close second. Third was the Glastonbury Festival in England. It was the first festival we did and we really didn’t know what was coming. And that was just triumphant.
Our booking agent over there said, “I think you got the gig because Mick and Ron Wood are into you guys.” And I said, “Wow, it would have been nice to meet them.” And he said, “I don’t think they would have ever thought of that” [laughs]. They’re a favorite band of mine. And say what you will, it’s a bloated show and they’re certainly not at their peak, but it was to fun to be up close and around something of that spectacle.
On touring with Art Brut
This is going to be the final Boys and Girls in America tour, the third US tour, so we were looking to partner with someone and take it up to bigger venues, and it fit the bill. And we’ve seen a lot of stuff in England that [called us] the American Art Brut and we’ve seen things over here that say they’re the English Hold Steady. Even though we haven’t met them, there seemed to be a mutual admiration.
On what’s next
We’ve been writing. We’ve been working pretty hard and have five pretty good things right now. Directionally I don’t know if it’s going to be hugely different and I’m not sure if I have any overriding concepts that I’ve figured out, but I think it will be an extension of what we do, and hopefully bigger and better in some way or another.
On the joy factor
I did not think at 30 years old that my future would include anything but a 9-to-5 job. It’s hard for me in almost every moment not be aware of how good things are for us.
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