The best bar band in America, nay, the world.


In 2003, vocalist, lyricist, and guitarist Craig Finn and New York City bartender and bassist Galen Polivka began talking about starting a band. Finn and lead guitarist Tad Kubler (both formerly of Lifter Puller) developed the idea of The Hold Steady when, while watching the The Band concert film The Last Waltz, Finn asked Kubler, "Dude, why aren't there any bands like this anymore?"[1] The Hold Steady's 2004 debut album Almost Killed Me, released on Frenchkiss Records, was a sleeper hit among music critics, reaching #31 in the Pazz & Jop critics poll that year, an achievement which Finn described as "like being nominated for an Oscar or something."[2] In May 2005, they were the first rock band to grace the front page of The Village Voice in 15 years. They were Blender (magazine)|Blender's 2006 "Band of the Year".

The band released its second album, Separation Sunday, on May 3, 2005. The album was a loose concept album following the exploits of a character named "Holly" (short for "Halleluiah") and her quest to find a balance between Catholicism and rock and roll through drugs and a metaphorical resurrection. The album was critically lauded, and its religious overtones were picked up by many critics, such as Joe Gross of the Village Voice]', who dubbed it "the most egregiously American Catholic album since X's Under the Big Black Sun, |Springsteen's Tunnel of Love, or that Jewish new waver Billy Joel's The Stranger."[2]

After Separation Sunday, for its third album the band moved from the Frenchkiss Records imprint to Vagrant Records. Released October 3, 2006, Boys and Girls in America was ranked #8 on the Rolling Stone Best Albums of 2006 list, and first by The A.V. Club. Pitchfork Media's Scott Plagenhoff wrote of the album, "[Craig Finn] not only has a commanding, rousing voice but he also says something worth hearing, displaying gifts for both scope and depth that are all too rare in contemporary rock — indie or mainstream."[3] In 2007, the band recorded a modified version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" to be played during the seventh-inning stretch at Minnesota Twins home games.[4] They also contributed a cover of the Bob Dylan and The Hawks/The Band song Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? to the motion picture I'm Not There.

The band's fourth album, Stay Positive, was released in the UK on July 14, 2008 and in the U.S. on July 15. The album was recorded in Hoboken, New Jersey and Wild Arctic studio in Queens, New York with producer John Agnello during January and February that year. Guests on the sessions included Ben Nichols from Lucero, J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., Emilyn Brodsky, and Doug Gillard, who played guitar in Guided By Voices. Finn has said that he believes the album "captures a band hitting their creative peak, as well as enjoying each other's creativity and company."[5] The album is more expansive than previous releases, including talk-box solos, harpsichord, and tuneful vocals (the notoriously gruff-voiced Finn started taking voice lessons). "There are some bands that do five records that all sound similar," says guitarist Tad Kubler. "We've tried to avoid that."[6] Many familiar elements – sing-along choruses, extended piano and guitar solos and lyrics that deal with faith, crime, rumor, loss and love – remain.

The Hold Steady has toured and played with a variety of other artists, amongst them Les Savy Fav, The Constantines, P.O.S., Swearing at Motorists, the Rolling Stones (as mentioned in the Stay Positive bonus track Ask Her For Adderall), The Thermals, Art Brut, Kings of Leon, The Loved Ones, and Drive-By Truckers.

In April 2009, the band released a two-disc documentary and live album set entitled A Positive Rage.[7]

On January 21st, 2010, Franz Nicolay announced that he was leaving the Hold Steady in order to persue his solo career and other musical collaborations. In May and June of 2010 Nicolay will be joining Against Me! as a keyboard player for a European tour.

On May 4, 2010 The Hold Steady released their fifth studio album, 'Heaven is Whenever'. Franz Nicolay recorded keyboard parts for the album prior to his departure from the band, but those recordings were eventually scrapped and replaced by keyboard parts played by guitarist Tad Kubler. Generally thought to be a "departure" from the more raucous sound of previous records (Craig Finn described the album as "less anthemic"), Heaven is Whenever reuinited The Hold Steady with Separation Sunday producer Dean Baltulonis. The lead single, "Hurricane J", was officially "leaked" more than a month before the album's release on, and officially released to radio on May 17. While familiar themes return - faith, struggle, redemption - the album is perhaps the band's deepest dive to date into the use of space, effect, and contextually unconventional instrumental arrangements (e.g., a clarinet solo in "Barely Breathing"). This approach was not limited to man-made sounds: At some point in the recording process, while at an upstate New York studio, Tad Kubler was recorded playing guitar parts outdoors at sundown. As a result, the recording equipment picked up the sounds of crickets and other insects, the sound of which can be heard as the final track on Heaven is Whenever, "A Slight Discomfort", fades out. Despite the moderate adjustment to the band's sound, critical reaction to the new album has generally been positive. Rolling Stone gave Heaven is Whenever a 4-star review in their May 13, 2010 issue.

While touring in support of Heaven is Whenever, The Hold Steady added two new members to their lineup: Steve Selvidge (formally of Lucero) plays guitar while Dan Neustadt (formerly of The World/Inferno Friendship Society) replaces Franz Nicolay on keyboards.

On March 25, 2014, the band released 'Teeth Dreams', their sixth studio album.  The opening track, "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You" is a blistering rock anthem that includes references to past associations to the Cityscape Skins , however the balance of the record lacks specific references to the recurring characters usually found in Hold Steady songs. The band has released two videos in support of the record, one for "Spinners" and a live concert video for "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You."  The footage for the latter was recorded during a "10th Anniversary" concert performed at Music Hall of Williamsburg, in Brooklyn. 

The Hold Steady informally split in January of 2015 to pursue other projects. 

Band Members Edit

Former Members Edit


Albums Edit

Extended Plays Edit

Singles Edit

"Sequestered in Memphis" 7" (2008)

  • Stay Positive 7" (2009)
  • Hurricane J 7" (2010)
  • Rock Problems (2010)
  • The Weekenders (2010)
  • "Criminal Fingers" 7" (2013)
  • I hope this whole thing didn't frighten you (single) (2014)
  • Spinners (single) (2014)

Special Releases Edit

Show Dates Edit

Other FeaturesEdit

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