Holdin Steady - I Speak with Craig Finn

Craig Finn - The Hold Steadyby Sean Taylor

photo by Mike Bouchard

(more photos)

After raging through The Hold Steady's 90+ minute Ottawa Bluesfest set- I had to quickly dry off, change my sweaty clothers and get it together a bit to head backstage. Prior to the show I had been asked if I would like the unique and exciting opportunity to chat with Craig Finn on their tour bus. While this only lasted for a few fleeting minutes- to get to chat with Craig on a personal level was an experience I will not soon forget. As a nice icebreaker he asked me about the "What Would Judas Do?" tee I had been sporting (its a lyric from a rarity in the Hold Steady canon- 'Milkcrate Mosh')- noting that he had seen a couple before, but those were in Minnesota and had a different font. Alright this is going to go fine, hes a rock geek just like me!

Since this had all come up not long before the band took the stage, my preparation of some really knockout interview questions was not possible — but I digress: 

The Hold Steady by the numbers:

Sean Taylor: Band Members?   

Craig Finn: 5

ST: Guitars on the Road This Tour?

CF: 24 (including basses)

ST: Wives on the Road This Tour? 

CF: 0- but not because we wouldn't mind wives....

ST: Preference 10,000 Lakes or 1,000 Islands?

CF: 10,000 Lakes- its just more....

ST: You've got a couple of songs about gambling, so how about you give me some odds. What is the over under on the number of friends you will tell that you shared a bill with Keith Urban today?  

CF: Oh ha ha ha shit I hadn't even thought about that. Hmmmm 9?

ST: Craig if you've ever laid some money down, you know I can't accept a 9.  

CF: Ok then how about a 9.5?

ST: And would the odds get juiced if I had said Kevin Costner?  

CF: Oh yeah, um, for sure- like maybe an 11.5?! (chuckles as he realizes I may be more drunk than he) Thanks for not bringing me big-long-answer-watch-your-mouth-questions; its the end of the tour. This is good.

ST: Covering for jambands our readers have noted over the years that you occasionally bring out a blue telecaster that sported a yellow dancing bear - are you a fan of the Grateful Dead

CF: Well I did see them, let me see maybe three times, but I wouldn't call myself a huge fan. I do like what they did and stood for though.

ST: Why the recent change with the 7 Seconds sticker (he covered up at the tail end of last years Stay Positive tour)? 

CF: Oh, ha ha you noticed? Well I actually had misgivings about that. I wanted to go back to the bear, but the hardcores are harder to deal with than hippies- so I guess 7 Seconds stays. If it helps with your readers, they'll probably be happy to know that I named that blue tele in honor of Jerry- its called 'Stella Blue'. 

ST: You wrote a song called "Nassau Coliseum" with your old band Lifter Puller that references a particularly harsh scene at a Dead show (the lyrics reference a long hair selling domestics in the lot getting beat by the cops). Was that an actual experience you had?

CF: Oh yeah man. That was like my sophomore year so like spring 91 maybe. It went down all around us.

ST: One more just for kicks for our readers..... Having lived in hotbeds for the band near Alpine Valley, and the NYC area since 2004- and travelled the country extensively before that have you ever ventured to a Phish concert?  

CF: None. No particular reason why I haven't- but I guess it just hasn't come my way.

ST: Thanks Craig!