Hold Steady hangover

Alt-rock's urban poet Craig Finn on rolling solo

Songsmith Finn says a lot of his Lifter Puller songs were about partying, that with Hold Steady he threw in the hangover as well.
  • Songsmith Finn says a lot of his Lifter Puller songs were about partying, that with Hold Steady he threw in the hangover as well.

Craig Finn of the Hold Steady is playing a string of dates opening for Vancouver’s Japandroids. For these shows, he has recruited a trio going by the name of the Uptown Controllers. During a stop in North Carolina, Finn revealed that the live band has more of a “big rock sound” than his forthcoming studio album, We All Want the Same Things. He also hinted that the majority of the songs on the LP share the lush arrangements found on lead single “Preludes.”

"Newmyers Roof"

...by Craig Finn

...by Craig Finn

“I think it’s probably the most musical of the three solo albums,” he explained. “The last one we made was probably a little more sparse, and it was really just the three of us [Finn, producer, and percussionist] mostly. With this one, we put a lot more people in the room, so there was more instrumentation. Because of that, it ended up being more musical. There’s piano. There’s horns. I don’t know if I could have a classification other than there’s more going on. There’s more humans and more variation of tones.”

Finn says he wrote about 50 songs for the new LP last year. It’s a staggering number but not all that far-fetched when you take into account that he has always loved to tell a story within the confines of a song. He explained that in his first band, Lifter Puller, a lot of the songs were about partying, and that the Hold Steady continued this tradition but threw in the eventual hangover as well. These days, the tales still revolve around the characters, but their subject matter has matured alongside their author.

“I think that the characters in the songs are older, and it may be smaller in scope,” he explained. “I think that’s sort of more interesting to me these days — writing about people who are unremarkable and how they fit in the world. They’re a lot about people just trying to get by in the world. That just seems more interesting to me at this point, at my age, and where my head’s at.”

Past Event


  • Saturday, March 11, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
  • Music Box, 1337 India Street, San Diego
  • 21+ / $20 - $22

All three facets of the Finn canon (solo, Hold Steady, and Lifter Puller) were active in 2016, but it looks as if Lifter Puller is probably on ice for 2017. The good news is that Hold Steady shows will likely happen this year.

“We did four shows with the Hold Steady in December in Brooklyn, and we’re looking to do more. I don’t think we’ll be getting in the van and driving around for eight weeks. I think we’ll do stuff similar to what we did in Brooklyn — playing multiple shows in a city rather than driving ourselves crazy driving around in circles. Everyone is a little older, some people have kids, so not everyone’s as into touring as I am. But I think that’s one way we, hopefully, probably will do it. I definitely expect there to be Hold Steady shows in 2017.”

Craig Finn & the Uptown Controllers play the Music Box on Saturday, March 11.

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