Steady as he goes

It’s hard work writing songs with characters vivid enough to fit a movie script or a novel.

rocker Craig Finn’s been doing it for a little less than a decade as
the front man for The Hold Steady, Brooklyn’s beloved bar band. Although
he’s recently taken a brief detour as a solo artist to focus on themes
of displacement and loneliness, there’s no indication of a departure
from the cadre of hard-drinking, drug-swapping, rave-throwing teenage
hood rats who populate his previous work.

came into the studio Monday morning, shook everyone’s hand and by
Friday night, we had 14 songs recorded, or at least the better parts of
’em,” Finn said of the recording sessions for “Clear Heart Full Eyes.”

was a little intimidated. It was outside my comfort zone, for sure. I’m
still a fairly limited musician, so it was a challenge for me. I came
out of it and it turned into something I really loved. I gained a lot of
confidence from it.”

on Hüsker Dü and The Replacements growing up in Minnesota, Finn long
has written lyrics bolted down to emotive, hard-charging rock ’n’ roll
pieces from Tad Kubler, lead guitarist for The Hold Steady and their previous band, Lifter Puller.

solo changed that, but he didn’t head halfway across the country
unprepared. First, Finn challenged himself to write one song a day, and
left with 50. He also drove across Australia by himself just to write
songs, which directly resulted in the album’s opening track, “Apollo
Bay,” and informed much of the rest of “Full Eyes,” which was released
last week.

“I was by myself driving in a car. You
can get really remote. You can get to places where you’re not seeing
other people pretty easily. I was in some touristy areas at times, but
it was in the off-season, so no one was really there,” he said. “I think
a lot of the songs on the record tap into being alone, or solitary. …
But in one sense, we’re all alone in this world, you know? We enter and
leave it alone, so I guess that’s part of the record.”

Photo by Jeremy Balderson

Matt Carney

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