Craig Finn

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Craig Finn
Craig Finn with the Hold Steady in Cambridge, UK, in 2011
Craig Finn with the Hold Steady in Cambridge, UK, in 2011
Background information
Born (1971-08-22) August 22, 1971 (age 51)
GenresPost-punk revival, alternative rock, indie rock
Instrument(s)Guitar, vocals
Years active1993–present
Full Time Hobby
Thirty Tigers

Craig Finn (born August 22, 1971) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. He is best known as the frontman of the American indie rock band The Hold Steady, with whom he has recorded eight studio albums. Prior to forming The Hold Steady, Finn was the frontman of Lifter Puller.

Described by Pitchfork as "a born storyteller who's chosen rock as his medium,"[1] Finn has released five solo albums to date: Clear Heart Full Eyes (2012), Faith in the Future (2015), We All Want the Same Things (2017), I Need a New War (2019) and A Legacy of Rentals (2022).

Finn began hosting his own podcast, That's How I Remember It, in 2022, in which he examines the relationship between memory and creativity through interviews with other artists.

Personal life[edit]

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Finn grew up in Edina, Minnesota.[2] He was raised Catholic and still identifies as such.[3][4] Finn attended Valley View Middle School,[5] and subsequently graduated from Breck School, and in 1993, from Boston College.[6] Before moving to New York City in 2000, Finn was working as a financial broker for American Express in Minnesota.[7] Upon moving to New York City, where he currently resides, Finn got a job at a live music webcasting company called Digital Club Network.[7] At this point in time, Finn did not play music for two years before forming The Hold Steady.[7] Finn lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with his girlfriend, whom he has been dating since 2006.[8][9]

Musical career[edit]

With Lifter Puller[edit]

Back in Minneapolis, Finn was a member of the band Lifter Puller from 1994 to 2000. The band included Tad Kubler, who later joined Finn in The Hold Steady.[10] The band released three albums, two compilation, an EP and a number of singles. In 2009 the material was re-issued digitally supported by a book: Lifter Puller vs. the End Of.[11] The re-releases included live material and the compilation Slip Backwards.[12]

With The Brokerdealer[edit]

Craig Finn did a short stint of work with Mr. Projectile after moving to New York City in the fall of 2001. The result of this was two EP's.

Untitled EP 1
  1. If Not For Hipster Pictures
  2. Give Me My Body Back
  3. The Last Ones Up Become Lovers
Untitled EP 2
  1. Sophomore Slump
  2. Mommy Can I Go Out and Chill Tonight
  3. Do Me Nails
  4. The Dead Ones Look Like Dolls

With The Hold Steady[edit]

He moved to New York City in the fall of 2001, after Lifter Puller broke up, for a change and because he and his wife knew people there.[13] He has said that lyrically, with The Hold Steady, he's been trying to produce a more positive, coherent, story-based message, in a natural way that he could imagine someone saying.[13]

Work with other artists[edit]

Craig Finn provided his voice to Titus Andronicus's second album, The Monitor. He is the voice of Walt Whitman at the very end of their song "A Pot in Which to Piss" .[14]

He worked with Minneapolis rapper P.O.S on the song "Safety In Speed (Heavy Metal)" which was released on the 2006 album Audition. Always close to the Twin Cities music scene, he also contributed to Minnesota musician Mark Mallman's song "You're Never Alone in New York" on the 2009 album Invincible Criminal.

In between Lifter Puller and The Hold Steady, he did a project with Mr. Projectile known as The Brokerdealer, a techno styled group. They released two unnamed EPs.

In 2010 he co-wrote, with Chris Cheney, the title track from The Living End's 2011 album, The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, while Cheney was in New York City. After working together, Cheney called Finn "a hell of a lyricist".[15]

In 2011, Finn performs lead vocals for a Minnesota Twins tribute song "Don't Call Them Twinkies" on The Baseball Project's second album Volume 2: High and Inside.

In 2012, he sang backup on the title track for Joe Pug's album, The Great Despiser.

On April 8, 2014, Cheap Girls premiered the song "Man In Question" from their Famous Graves album. The track features Finn on guest vocals.[16]

On February 22, 2016, Craig released a split single with Titus Andronicus named "No Faith / No Future / No Problem". On this split, Titus Andronicus covers Craig's "No Future" from his debut solo album, Clear Heart Full Eyes, and Craig Finn covers Titus Andronicus's "No Future" from their debut album, The Airing Of Grievances.


Finn's first solo album, recorded in Austin, Texas, entitled Clear Heart Full Eyes, was released January 24, 2012 through Vagrant Records.[17] A second solo album, Faith in the Future, was released in 2015.[18] Following "Faith in the Future," Craig Finn released the Newmyer's Roof EP featuring the title track "Newmyer's Roof" and 6 songs that were not on "Faith in the Future." The EP was originally made available in June 2015 as a pre-order download via PledgeMusic, but was given a full release on March 4, 2016 via Partisan Records.[19]

In December, 2016, Finn released "Preludes", the first single from his next album, titled We All Want the Same Things, which was released via Partisan Records on March 24, 2017.

On January 30 2019, Partisan Records announced the April 26 release of Finn's fourth album, I Need A New War, and released the first song from the album, "Blankets".[20]

On May 20, 2022, "A Legacy of Rentals" was released on Positive Jams/Thirty Tigers.

Lyrical style[edit]

Finn is most notable for his third-person narrative lyrical style, wherein he frequently makes reference to literature, pop culture, adolescence, partying, religion and drugs. Both with Lifter Puller and The Hold Steady, Finn's songs often follow a storytelling format that features recurring characters and locations, with Ybor City, Fla., and the Twin Cities having special prominence.

Particularly in later Hold Steady albums, Finn's songs have explored the darker aspects of his characters' party-centric lifestyles. Finn told an interviewer in 2012: "Artistically, I have always been really interested in the hangover; not just the celebration and the confetti but also the puke in the gutter."[21] Finn has said that "irony is certainly not something I want to be accused of," instead hoping to bring "honesty and sincerity" through his songwriting.[22] Although his stories involve violence and heavy drug use, Finn states his songwriting is not very personal or "confessional".[23]

Finn's lyrics have been a frequent point of praise for The Hold Steady[24][25] with Uncut Magazine describing his style as "narratives driven less by the wordy exposition of yore than acute observation, devastating detail, by turns exclamatory, epigrammatic and grainily authentic."[26]

In a review of A Legacy of Rentals (2022), veteran critic Robert Christgau describes Finn's albums as an "ongoing series of musical short stories" in which "not everybody loses ... but for sure nobody wins", noting the preponderance of protagonists who are very likely nonvoting "all-white casualties of finance capital and the fossil fuel cartel".[27]


Finn has indicated that some of his greatest lyrical influences include Blake Schwarzenbach from Jets to Brazil and Jawbreaker as well as Bruce Springsteen.[28] In a Guardian article, he described The Replacements' Let It Be as his "favorite ever record."[29] He's also a big fan of Rick Danko of The Band. In an interview with GQ, Finn discussed his love for Danko: "People roll their eyes about his solo records, but I'm just happy to have more songs that I can listen to him sing; his voice is incredible...I would listen to him sing the phone book."[30]

He is also a fan of Drive-By Truckers.


Studio albums


  • All These Perfect Crosses (2020)


  1. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. "Craig Finn: Clear Heart Full Eyes | Pitchfork". Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Chat: Chat with musician Craig Finn - SportsNation - ESPN". 2011-01-02. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  3. ^ Troy Reimink. "The Hold Steady's Craig Finn discusses the role of faith in songwriting". The Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  4. ^ Marchese, David. "Lapsed Catholics and Lost Hoodrats < PopMatters". Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  5. ^ "I was no longer a loser", Craig Finn, The Guardian, May 11, 2007
  6. ^ "Boston College Magazine » Fall 2007 » Linden Lane » Craig Finn's inventions". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  7. ^ a b c "Can't Lose: The Hold Steady's Craig Finn Goes Solo". 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2014-05-13.
  8. ^ Kompanek, Christopher (2012-01-19). "Steady as he goes". New York Post.
  9. ^ Leland, John (2015-12-24). "How Craig Finn, Musician, Spends His Sundays". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  10. ^ The Hold Steady's Craig Finn Reflects on the Legacy of Lifter Puller, (retrieved 18 June 2014)
  11. ^ Raymer, Miles (10 December 2009). "Meet Me at the Nice Nice". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  12. ^ Breihan, Tom (November 11, 2009). "Pre-Hold Steady Band Lifter Puller Remembered With Reissue Series, Book". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  13. ^ a b "Pulse of the Twin Cities - Locally Grown Alternative Newspaper". Archived from the original on November 21, 2006. Retrieved January 31, 2007. Kate Siver, 'The Hold Steady: Ex-Lifter Puller Members Return from NYC Exile as the Hold Steady', The Pulse of the Twin Cities, Wednesday 10 March @ 15:12:06
  14. ^ "Titus Andronicus Enlist Hold Steady's Craig Finn and Vivian Girls' Cassie Ramone for Civil War-Themed LP". Archived from the original on 2012-07-09.
  15. ^ "The Living End Sets New CD Release Date". 2008-06-24. Archived from the original on 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  16. ^ Orr, Dacey (April 8, 2014). "Song Premiere: Cheap Girls - "Man In Question"". Paste. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  17. ^ Pelly, Jenn (2011-11-07). "The Hold Steady's Craig Finn Reveals Solo Album Clear Heart Full Eyes | News". Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  18. ^ "Pop and Jazz Listings and Albums for the Fall Season". New York Times, SEPT. 7, 2015
  19. ^ Bell, Sadie (29 February 2016). "Craig Finn – "Screenwriters School" (Stereogum Premiere)".
  21. ^ "Craig Finn Talks New Solo Album, New Hold Steady Material". 16 January 2012.
  22. ^ "reax magazine :: music + culture » Articles". 2008-01-19. Archived from the original on 2011-12-29. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  23. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2004-08-10. Retrieved 2007-01-31.
  24. ^ "Stay Positive Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  25. ^ "Boys And Girls In America Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  26. ^ "The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls In America - Review". Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  27. ^ Christgau, Robert (July 13, 2022). "Consumer Guide: July, 2022". And It Don't Stop. Substack. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  28. ^ "". 10 August 2004. Archived from the original on 10 August 2004. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  29. ^ Finn, Craig (2007-05-10). "I was no longer a loser". The Guardian. London.
  30. ^ "Craig Finn and the Art of Going Solo by Jessica Hopper". GQ magazine. January 26, 2012.

External links[edit]