Craig Finn Explains the Hold Steady's Change in Approach with 'Teeth Dreams'

Craig Finn Explains the Hold Steady's Change in Approach with 'Teeth Dreams'
After the Hold Steady's longest break to date, the Brooklyn-based rock band are back with their sixth LP in a decade, Teeth Dreams, on March 25 through Razor & Tie offshoot White Square. The record debuts a new lineup for the group, who said goodbye to keyboardist Franz Nicolay midway through the making of 2010's Heaven Is Whenever. Guitarist Steve Selvidge had toured with the band and played on the last album, but he's now a permanent fixture in the Hold Steady, and his participation in the writing and recording process has added much, according to singer Craig Finn.

"I think he added a lot, and it really showcases the two-guitar nature of the band," Finn tells Exclaim! of Selvidge. "Him and Tad [Kubler] are playing guitar — both lead guitar, kind of back and forth — so it ended up being a real guitar-heavy record."

The hard-hitting sound of Teeth Dreams is a point of pride for Finn. "It's our sixth record and I'm 42 years old," he says. "I think when people think you're going to make your sixth record or you're in your 40s that it's time to bring out the mandolins. So I was proud of us that we made a big rock record."

Putting together the album, however, was a bit different this time around. After trying out a post-Nicolay lineup that included an extra piano player and guitarist, Finn says there was "too much music happening" on stage, so they opted to cut out the keys and stick with Selvidge.

The biggest challenge was that of "geographic separation," since Selvidge resides in Memphis, a bit of a ways from the group's Brooklyn roots. In addition to the recording process taking longer, Finn acknowledges that there was an awkward formality to flying Selvidge in and sitting down and saying: "Okay, now everyone write a song."

Still, they ultimately fell into a rhythm that worked and the positive results can be heard on Teeth Dreams. "We pushed through it," concludes Finn. "It was just a matter of getting used to it."

As previously reported, the Hold Steady have a North American tour lined up and that includes a stop in Toronto on April 9. You can see the complete schedule here.

Read our full story on the band's new album here.