Staying positive

By MICHAEL ATCHISON  |  April 9, 2014

So now you’re more like Robert Plant.

The producer on this record, on one of the first days we were making the record, said “You know, you remind me of David Lee Roth.” And I said, “Wow, I’ve never heard that before.” I do like it. And I love David Lee Roth.

Steve came in as a second lead player. Tad is a pretty rare creature, a bona fide indie rock guitar hero. Was it hard for him to make space for Steve?

I don’t think so. He was the one who was really pushing for another guitar player. I was like, “This Steve guy is something. Are you sure you want to bring this in?” But it allows them to do that back-and-forth thing. Tad had a real vision for what it could be. And Steve brings in this other thing. He’s from Memphis and he grew up in a very musical family in a very musical place. He was around people like [famed record producer] Jim Dickinson and Alex Chilton as a kid, and his dad was friends with all those people. So he comes from this real musical place, and that kind of injected something into the band, I think a more musical quality and a different way of looking at things. Maybe something that was a little off of the “indie” thing.

It’s hard to know exactly who plays what, but that solo he plays on “Spinners” is pure hard-rock goodness.

That’s the kind of thing where you’re like “whoa.” We did Letterman’s show the other night, and when he hit that solo, I was watching on TV and I was like, “There we go.”

The production onTeeth Dreams is different than on your previous albums. You brought in Nick Raskulinecz, who is best known for his work with more mainstream hard rock and heavy metal bands like Foo Fighters, Rush, and Deftones. What made you want to work with him?

We wanted to work with someone new. We saw him in that Sound City movie that Dave Grohl did, and he came off really well in that. There’s one point where he got almost emotional about the studio, and we liked the vibe in that. So we met him, and he came into the space and said, “Play me something.” We started playing, and all of a sudden, he’s jumping around the room. He’s over by the drums playing air drums while Bobby’s playing. It’s this massive enthusiasm, unbridled. He had this confidence right away. We played him a bunch of songs, and he said, “We’re ready to make a record. Let’s go do this. I’m excited.” And he wasn’t hung up on “indie” shit. I would say he was only marginally aware of the Hold Steady. And I think that’s a good thing. He was like, “Let’s go make a rock and roll record.” In some ways, from the beginning, The Hold Steady was wary of being an indie rock band, and [wanted] to be a rock and roll band. So I really liked that about Nick. He was like, “Let’s not make an indie rock record.”

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