The Hold Steady, a band of 30-something rockers most effortlessly described as a more abstemious Replacements, have become one of the year's biggest success stories behind their fourth studio record, Stay Positive. The NYC (by way of Minneapolis) band quickly recorded Stay Positive while riding the buzz of their 2006 breakthrough, Boys and Girls in America.
"There's been a little bit made about our age because we're all in our 30s," Hold Steady guitarist Tad Kubler explains. "I think instead of stressing out about how to impress people like bands that are first starting out would, we've always gone out with the attitude that, you know, 'now we have everyone's attention, let's show 'em what we can really do.'"
Stay Positive holds the bar higher than ever, offering a bigger, more ambitious sound and song structures and writing that can only be described as grower material.
"With the amount of touring we did for Boys and Girls, we really got to know what each other's strengths are as far as playing and songwriting. So that really helped us with Stay Positive.
"Everybody is involved with the writing process. Sometimes I'll just bring in some ideas and then Galen [Polivka], Bobby [Drake] and I will sit down and work stuff out and hash some ideas out. Then Franz [Nicolay] will come in - and the guy can play anything!" Kubler explained. "The arrangements then start to really take shape as Craig [Finn] brings in the lyrics and his story.
"Four records ago Craig and I had a band in Minneapolis called Lifter Puller that split in about 2000; Craig moved to New York, I moved to L.A. and then eventually New York. We were hanging out and just thought it would be fun to play music again," Kubler explains when asked about his band's beginnings.
"We had little ambition back then aside from getting together to play. We didn't have plans to tour but thought we might put out a record or something. The digital era had dawned and we realized that if we did record stuff we didn't necessarily have to have a label. Bands have Web sites that offer music and shit like that. It all snowballed and we started touring, so now here we are, four records later, sometimes playing festival crowds with 40,000 people.
"We're not out buying cars and houses. No AMEX Platinum cards or anything," Kubler joked when asked about quitting day jobs and such. "We've treated the band like any other job. We just decided that if we're gonna do this, that's all we're gonna do. And so we have four albums in five years."