For Craig Finn, the singer-songwriter and frontman for the Hold Steady, the difference between touring solo versus playing with his more well-known band is pretty obvious.
“It’s probably not as bombastic as the Hold Steady,” he freely admits with a chuckle. “But it’s kind of nice as a storyteller. There’s probably more space to get the words across in the live setting.”
Finn hit the road behind his latest solo album, “We All Want The Same Things.” He took some time to chat with amNewYork about the record, his attempts at world building and the future of the Hold Steady.
How different is writing solo versus with the Hold Steady?
The Hold Steady, we go in a room all together. I pretty much write the lyrics only, not the music, with a few exceptions. Tad [Kubler] plays these riffs, I start yelling into a microphone and a few hours later we have a song. With [the solo music], I start playing guitar, the chords and the vocals, and at that point it’s a song.
I read that you challenged yourself to write a song a day before recording “We All Want The Same Things.”
It was one song every day for Lent. It was about 45. It was a way to generate material. I probably threw out half down to 20 when I started. I’ll show the producer and throw out another 15 and we’d be down to five.
You have these recurring characters in your solo songs, but they’re distinctly different than the characters in the Hold Steady world. Is that a conscious decision?
It’s a different world. As I get older, I realize there’s a lot of people in the world [laughs]. I want to kind of keep the gaze moving to different people. My thinking now is that lingering too long on any character is like when one movie starts doing sequels. You get diminishing returns.
The keyboardist Franz Nicolay recently returned to the Hold Steady to play the 10-year anniversary show at Brooklyn Bowl. Is he going to record with you as well?
We don’t have any new songs so there’s no new plans to record. I think what we’d like to do more of in the near future is play some more shows.
With Franz in the band?
Yeah, I hope so. That’s what I think.