Best known as the frontman and lyricist for the Hold Steady, Craig Finn is taking a brief hiatus from the band and going out on his own. His solo record, “Clear Heart Full Eyes,” came out earlier this month and he’s now on tour to promote and preview his new songs.
“We decided to take a four- or five-month break and I needed something to do,” says Finn. “I had made five records in seven years with the Hold Steady and figured I would step outside and get some perspective. That’s the best way to grow artistically. I’m a big fan of pushing forward to the point of discomfort. I took new approaches with this one that would benefit me and the Hold Steady.”
With an educated and spoken-word delivery, Finn’s rapid rants often reflect the passion that Jack Kerouac was able to put to his typewriter with the immediacy of those amphetamine-fueled fingers. But while Finn’s recurring characters strayed from the straight and narrow, his band’s songs usually offered some sort of solace or catharsis in the end — with his solo record, not so much.
“I think [the solo record] lacks some of the optimism that the Hold Steady has,” notes Finn. “The Hold Steady is positive, and there’s a celebrated nature to the music. I chose to take a little break from that.”
Love that dirty water
Finn was born in Boston and went to Boston College. He says coming back to play at Great Scott is an interesting experience.
“I mean, 10 years ago Great Scott was a B.C. bar and there were Grateful Dead cover bands, so it’s funny to be back at Great Scott,” he muses. “It used to mean something totally different in the 1990s, so that’s kind of cool. Everything has changed. When I go back somewhere it’s more about catching up with old friends.”