The Hold Steady Returns to the Northland

Paul Whyte

The Hold Steady out of New York may not be a household name per se, but in Minnesota they are known within the indie rock scene for their lyrics that reveal stories about the Minnesota and Twin Cities area and they’ve been a solid rock band that almost immediately found a following in the region. Frontman, Craig Finn, grew up in Edina, Minn. and although he did go on to move to New York and start up The Hold Steady around a decade ago, he often goes back to his roots and ties to this area. Even in the song “Stuck Between Stations,” which was performed on David Letterman some time ago, it gives little hints of Finn’s memories and past with the region.
It’s been quite awhile since The Hold Steady has performed up here but Finn has made note of the acts that are coming out of the Duluth scene and felt that it was time to once again pay the area a visit. We had the chance to correspond with Craig Finn via email and run a few questions by him about the up coming show happening on Sunday, July 6 at Clyde Iron. They are currently on tour promoting their sixth album “Teeth Dreams,” which was released in the end of March. This latest album has been heavily anticipated since their last album, “Heaven is Whenever,” which was released in 2010. The new album was produced by Nick Raskulinecz, known for working with acts such as Foo Fighters, Rush, Alice in Chains and Deftones. Besides Finn the band includes Bobby Drake (drums), Tad Kubler (guitar), Galen Polivka and Steve Selvidge.

Reader: I remember seeing you play maybe seven or eight years ago at Pizza Luce’ in Duluth and there was already a pretty good following for that show. Explain some of your ties with the Minneapolis/Duluth area. You picked a good time to come back by the way, the winter was harsh.

CF: Well, I think a lot of that was spillover from a Twin Cities following. We have always had one foot in Minneapolis and one foot in New York. I’ve lived in New York for 14 years now but still write a lot of songs that mention Minnesota and the Twin Cities. My family is in Minneapolis and I get back a lot, so there is a big connection to the area.
I was excited to get back to Duluth, we played two great shows up there early in the band’s history but haven’t been back since. It’s a really unique place. Since then I’ve met some of the people from up there involved in music. People from Low, Trampled by Turtles, Actual Wolf and others got me thinking we were overdue for a visit.

Reader: You recently released the new album “Teeth Dreams.” It seems that a lot of your lyrics tell a story, what does this album convey for you and how does it stand out to past material?

CF: I was really happy that we made a heavy guitar centered record this time out, even though we are in our early 40s and it’s our 6th record. In a lot of ways people expect you to mellow out as you go but we didn’t do that. I’m proud of that. Teeth Dreams seems to me to be different enough to be a progression but maintains a connection to the older records too.

Reader: You probably get this one from time to time. Is there any story behind the name drop in the TV series “Lost?”

CF: Well, one of my best friends from growing up in Edina is Edward Kitsis, who was a writer on that show.

Reader: Is there anything you plan on doing besides playing a show while you’re up here?

CF: Hopefully get some time to check a few things out and meet some people. You never know how much time you’re really going to have on tour so I’m hoping we have a little bit to look around.

The show at Clyde Iron will start at 7 p.m. and is all ages. Tickets will be $17 in advance or $19 at the door. Additional fees may apply. The Michigan based band, Cheap Girls, will be the opening act. It might be a few years before The Hold Steady makes it back into town, so this is a highly recommended show to make. The band has played in all 50 states, but Finn is now back in the state that he once called home and is ready to rock.


Paul Whyte

A South Shore native and University of Wisconsin-Superior journalism graduate. Lifelong musician, and former open mic host. Passionate about the music scene and politics.

View more of Paul Whyte's work »