Although this Brooklyn band’s sixth album focuses on anxiety, THE HOLD STEADY’s future is anything but uncertain.
As he began writing for a new album, Craig Finn didn’t have any struggle finding subject matter. “I got really obsessed with the idea of anxiety in our modern age and the role that truth, or lack of truth, plays in it,” Finn says.
The singer and lyricist for the critically acclaimed Brooklyn-based rock band The Hold Steady, Finn explores that concept on the band’s sixth and latest LP, Teeth Dreams (Positive Jams/Washington Square, $12), out this month. “It’s the idea that we can put up a picture of ourselves on Facebook that’s nine years younger and 50 pounds lighter and that it represents us. I think the space between that and what we really are fills up with anxiety.”
Teeth Dreams comes four years after the band’s previous record, 2010’s Heaven Is Whenever. “When we did that, we’d been on a tear, touring really heavily and releasing a record pretty much every year for a long time,” Finn admits. “It felt a bit fatigued.”
Since then, the band — which includes Finn, co-founder and guitarist Tad Kubler, bassist Galen Polivka and drummer Bobby Drake — has tweaked its lineup, adding fresh blood in guitarist Steve Selvidge and reshaping its sound. “It does kind of feel like [The] Hold Steady 2.0,” Finn says. “There’s a refreshed and rejuvenated thing happening. I can certainly feel that physically and emotionally.”
Last summer, the band decamped to Nashville with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Rush) to record the album. With Kubler and Selvidge guiding a piercing two-guitar attack, the music reflects the band’s harder edge, but it also adds a layer of sonic complexities. “We were trying to make a big record but also trying to grow in some way,” Finn says. “On this record, we didn’t just set up mics and play live; it was a little more constructed.”
The resulting 10-track disc is loaded with nervy story songs drawing on Finn’s keen observations about the complexities of our times, an idea represented in the album’s title. “Supposedly ‘teeth dreams’ are anxiety about personal appearance or about money,” he says.
With The Hold Steady set to return to full-time activity and roadwork this year, Finn says there’s no anxiety about the future of the band. “None at all,” he says. “I think we’re all looking forward to being back on the bus and hitting it hard again.”