The Hold Steady


Things to know about The Hold Steady:
• Teeth Dreams is the sixth album from one of America’s most acclaimed rock bands.
• This is their first release in four years. Their last, Heaven is Whenever, came out in May 2010.
• The songs on Teeth Dreams came together over the past three years. Many of them went through significant changes along the way. Four years is the most time between any two The Hold Steady releases.
• Guitarist Steve Selvidge joined The Hold Steady for the Heaven is Whenever tour. Teeth Dreams is the first THS release where Selvidge participated in the writing and recording. A number of the songs were written at sessions in Memphis, where Steve lives.
• The album was produced and mixed by Nick Raskulinecz. Nick has produced records by Foo Fighters, Rush, Alice in Chains, Deftones, Ghost and more.
• Teeth Dreams was recorded and mixed at Rock Falcon Studios in Franklin,TN. It is the first record that THS has made outside of the NYC area.
• This five-piece line up (two guitars, bass, drums, vocals) of the band showcases a bigger and tougher sound. The guitars are especially present on this release.
• This is the first release on the band’s own Positive Jams imprint, which is in partnership with Washington Square/Razor & Tie.
• The title Teeth Dreams refers to a common nighttime dream. Dreams about teeth are usually triggered by anxiety. Anxiety is a theme that shows up in a number of songs on the album.
• The band recently launched an official fan club called The Unified Scene, and released a five song covers EP to the members of the club.
• The Hold Steady played their first show in 2003. They are entering their second decade as a band. The Hold Steady has been cited as influential by numerous rock acts such as Japandroids, Titus Andronicus, Frank Turner and many others.
• THS has toured heavily, and has played at least one show in all 50 states. They achieved this in summer 2013 when they played a show in Wyoming, the last state on their list.
TEETH DREAMS: A song-by-song breakdown with Tad Kubler & Craig Finn:
1. I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You
Tad Kubler:
There are several things going on here: In the early spring of 2012, we decided to get together and try and work through some ideas. Finn was out on tour doing his own thing and we wanted to make sure to stay creatively limber as a band. Galen, Bobby and I went down to Memphis where Steve has a little home studio behind his house. We holed up there for a week in February and a week in March, 2012 and banged out a lot of material.
Craig Finn:
This is a song about meeting up with some old friends that aren’t such good dudes anymore. Maybe they never were, but you didn’t used to mind.
2. Spinners
Tad Kubler:
This was one of the last songs to be written for the record. The creative process seemed endless, and at this stage it became difficult to trust myself. I could no longer tell what was good and what wasn’t and I needed perspective. Somebody that didn’t have a horse in the race, a person who I had enough in common with sonically and aesthetically. Joby Ford became that person. Joby from The Bronx is somebody who I’d been writing music with for the last couple years and I came to rely on him pretty heavily to tell me what was good and what still needed work. He called me right away and said, “Dude, great. This is a Hold Steady song. Don’t meddle with it anymore.” I sent it off to the guys and we started rehearsing it the next day. But it wouldn’t become the song it is now until we got to Nashville.
Craig Finn:
I think there is something beautiful and hopeful about watching someone all dressed up riding the train into the city.
3. The Only Thing
Tad Kubler:
This is a song we demoed more than almost any other song in the history of this band. But it didn’t really change all that much from the first demo I did in my living room with John Agnello in the summer of 2011. Steve and I worked on the bridge for it and eventually settled on this. I think it sounds like Jefferson Airplane.
Craig Finn:
There is this great part of Infinite Jest (novel by David Foster Wallace) where Hal tells his brother Mario that he has been dreaming of teeth. Mario says it’s a pretty common dream. Then Hal says he isn’t dreaming about his own teeth, but someone else’s teeth. And then the bills start showing up for these teeth.
4. The Ambassador
Tad Kubler:
This is another song I started at home and we finished in Memphis early 2012. I had this little guitar line that I was kicking around. While we were in Memphis, we wrote a lot of rockers. I felt something a little more dynamic and “vibey” was in order. Initially, this song was in standard tuning, but down in Memphis, Steve had this old Epiphone that was tuned to open E. I really wanted to play this guitar, and it sounded really cool the way it was tuned. So I had to rework part of the song around the tuning. Sometimes it’s the journey.
Craig Finn:
This one might have come together the quickest of any song on the record. The guys wrote it in Memphis and I got the lyrics really quickly after hearing the music. It really didn’t change a whole lot after that.
5. On With The Business
Tad Kubler:
Another song from the sessions in Memphis. One of my favorite songs on the record. There is something absolutely sinister about this song. Some of my absolute favorite Craig Finn moments.
Craig Finn:
This is one of the many songs on the record that mentions “truth”. In this case it’s something “technically true”. During the past few years, I’ve been really interested with the idea of how manipulating the truth affects our anxiety levels. We have so many ways to lie to each other these days. To tell a pure truth often feels like a relief and can be euphoric. Lies can be so nerve wracking, especially when you have a few to keep straight.
6. Big Cig
Tad Kubler:
This song came out of some stuff I recorded in the summer of 2011. It changed a lot from the initial recording. Almost more than any other song.
Craig Finn:
A 120mm length cigarette might be more cost effective, but they always look ridiculous.
7. Wait A While
Tad Kubler:
I was screwing around with the opening riff for “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh and stumbled upon this one. This song came together in less than a few minutes. It felt like one of those moments you only hear about. But it literally happened so fast, nobody was really sure what we’d done.
Craig Finn:
Early in the sessions for this record, our producer Nick Raskulinecz told me my vocals reminded him of David Lee Roth. I had not heard this before, but I took it as a huge compliment. I love DLR era Van Halen. This song might have a similar sentiment as “Jamie’s Crying”, although the whole album is
more in the vein of Fair Warning, I think.
8. Runner’s High
Tad Kubler:
This is a song Steve brought in. He sent me a demo of this early 2011. It’s got a great swagger. I think this one evolved a little from the initial idea, but not much. It was rock ready.
Craig Finn:
I wouldn’t listen to this song if you are running a marathon. The chorus says “I’m so sick of running”. That said, I’ve found a runner’s high to be one of the safest, cheapest, and most durable highs.
9. Almost Everything
Tad Kubler:
This is a song that went through some pretty radical changes since it started as a demo in early 2011. We were playing it as a full band and loud and then added this outro to it (this happens a lot). The outro made it about 7 minutes. We continued to flesh it out. and when Nick heard it, he wasn’t sure what he thought of it. He definitely said, ‘Why is that ending bit on there?’ So we ditched that.
When we got to Nashville, he had us do a version of the song with Steve and I playing acoustic guitars. We sat across from each other in the main tracking room as Finn sang in the booth. We did that and I then kinda forgot about it. We finished tracking the rest of the record. Did rough mixes of all the songs. The last night of the recording process we were finishing up and Nick pulled up this track and got a mix going. It sounded like a nice chance to breathe after what had turned into a really dense rock record. We had completely stripped this song down to nothing but the absolute essential pieces. I figured we’d go back and retrack things. Instead it was decided to leave things the way they were.
Finn wanted to rewrite the lyrics. I liked what he had and his initial performance was cool and laid back. We gave him about 30 minutes and then he went in the control room with Nick. They came out and we went in and listened. I got up and walked out of the control room. I needed a moment.
Craig Finn:
The line about Franklin TN was a bunch of other Southern cities first – Atlanta, Nashville, Augusta, etc. It had to be somewhere a Waffle House would be. I ended up using Franklin because we recorded there. That said, I never ate at the Waffle House in Franklin, although we drove by it every day.
10. Oaks
Tad Kubler:
I did the first demo for Oaks about 2 years ago in my apartment. It was comprised of four acoustic guitar tracks that, when I had all the delay and reverb and shit on them, almost started to sound like they were being played in a round. And then the last acoustic track being the melody line that Finn uses throughout the middle 8 of the final version.
The impetus for this track started from an obsession with the Radiohead song “Exit Music For A Film.” I’m not saying this is even remotely as good, or even resembles that song at this point, but I
wanted a song to end this record that was ominous and haunting and gave you this cinematic scope of what was going on. I can honestly say, there was a period of about two years where I believed this would be the last record Craig and I would make together. And I wanted to have a track ready to close out the album that would sound like things weren’t ever going to be the same.
I worked on the demo for about a year before I handed it off to Finn. When he heard it, he mentioned that it gave him a real seasick feeling. Bobby helps to anchor that a bit and when Finn finally wrote lyrics for it this past summer, the whole thing came together far better than I could have expected. The last chorus, before the outro when Finn sings “Call for a taxi, climb into the backseat…” the first time he sang it, the fucking hair on my arms stood up and it felt like somebody just walked over my grave. I was like, “Holy shit. This really sounds like this is the last time I’m seeing somebody…”
Anyone who has a long, sordid history with drugs knows there are times when you would say goodbye to somebody, and as they turned to walk away, you know it’s going be the last time you ever see them alive. And that last chorus feels like that – waiting for that phone call. And then the whole thing shifts again with “…and we dream.”
Craig Finn:
I think this is the longest song on any THS record. The shortest song title too, I think.

Founded 2004

Genre straight up Rock&Roll.

Members Craig Finn [vocals]
Tad Kubler [Guitar]
Galen Polivka [Bass]
Bobby Drake [Drums]

Hometown Brooklyn, NY

Record Label Washington Square

General Manager Dave Gottlieb @ Death Or Glory LLC

Current Location Brooklyn, NY

Contact Info


Press Contact Ken Weinstein @ Big Hassle

Booking Agent Paradigm