Heineken took over The Moore Building this past weekend, and on Friday night the company turned into a rock shop. The event was called Inspire, and everything from the DJs to the bands did just that. Then again, when you give The Hold Steady enough wattage to floor a horde of hipsters, inspiration is bound to ensue. Niteside caught up with singer Craig Finn just before he and his band blew the proverbial roof off the space. Here's what he had to say:
The last time you guys played South Florida was out on the swamp for Langerado, right? Yes, this is our first proper club show in Miami, so thanks to Heineken for bringing us down.
Is this the first of a series you're doing for them? We're doing another one of these at the end of summer, and I think there are four total. So we're doing two of the four.
"Heaven is Whenever" is your fifth album. So you by no means are new at this game. Yeah, we've made five records in seven years so we're working at a pretty quick pace.
That is quick. The opening track "The Sweet Part of the City" seems to have some echoes Bob Seger circa "Live Bullet." Are you a fan of the man? I'm a fan. I like the Seger. And even before his real hit-making days, the stuff he did in the late '60s with Bob Seger System, was phenomenal.
How hard is it to stick to one's guns and why don't you think more people do it? I don't think it's hard, and I don't know why more people don't do it. We're a little older, so we can kind of look back and see what's worked over time. My favorite bands -- The Replacements. The Clash, Husker Du and more modern bands like The Drive-By Truckers -- have been bands that just do what they do. Trends may come in and come out, but this way you don't have to worry about what's coming down the pike.
You mentioned The Replacements and Husker Du, who, like you, are from Minneapolis, as is, of course, Prince. Do you think the fact that the town is smack in the middle of the country has anything to do with all its great music? I think that's part of it. I think the cold weather kept people inside in their basements being creative rather than running around with their shirts off. And I think there's always been a really supportive environment there. The Twin Cities always supports their bands and that's led to a lot of great music.
Well, I know First Avenue is a legendary venue, and it's long been a perfect forum for Minneapolis's finest bands. Did you dream of playing there when you were growing up? I just wanted to play there one time and now we're at this point where we can sell out a couple of nights there and it feels pretty amazing.
Do you go back and play there instead of larger venues? Well, this year we're playing a big outdoor fest and then we'll follow it up with a Fourth of July show at First Avenue.
That'll be wild. The LP title "Heaven is Whenever" comes from the song "We Can Get Together," which in fact is the second half of the line. Is there a story behind that song? It's about listening to records with someone else -- kind of creating your own world, and sort of blocking out everything else. Maybe you meet someone who really loves rock 'n roll as much as you do and you're both like, 'You got to hear this song! You got to hear this song!' Playing records back and forth kind of creates this bubble that I kind of thought was a lot like falling in love.
Speaking of falling in love, if your songs are any indication, you've had crazy relationships, you've had wild relationships, and you've had adventurous relationships, but you've never had a ho-hum relationship, have you? Well, ho-hum relationships don't make for great songs.