Craig Finn

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Craig Finn
Craig Finn with the Hold Steady in Cambridge, UK, in 2011
Background information
Born (1971-08-22) August 22, 1971 (age 50)
Genres Post-punk, alternative rock, indie rock
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1993–present
Labels Vagrant Records
Full Time Hobby
French Kiss
Associated acts The Hold Steady
Lifter Puller
The Brokerdealer

Craig Finn (born August 22, 1971) is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is best known as the frontman of the American indie rock band The Hold Steady, with whom he has recorded six 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's lyrics are often noted for having a strong literary bent, stringing together recurring characters and storylines throughout.

During a five-month break from The Hold Steady, Finn recorded a solo album, Clear Heart Full Eyes, which was released in January 2012, and released a second solo album, Faith in the Future, in 2015.[2]

Personal life

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Finn grew up in Edina, Minnesota.[3] He was raised Catholic and still identifies as such.[4][5] Finn attended Valley View Middle School[6] and subsequently graduated from Breck School, and in 1993, from Boston College. 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][8] 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 Angie Bentfield, whom he has been dating since 2006.[9]

Musical career

With Lifter Puller

While with Lifter Puller from 1994 to 2000, Finn was involved with the release of 3 albums, 5 singles, 1 EP, and 2 compilations.

With The Brokerdealer

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

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.[11] 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.[11]

Work with other artists

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" .[12]

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 on This website has shut down, but the songs are still floating around the Internet.

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. After working together, Cheney called Finn "a hell of a lyricist".[13]

On April 8, 2014, Cheap Girls premiered the song "Man In Question" from their Famous Graves album. The track features Finn on guest vocals.[14]


In July 2011, Finn started a Tumblr account[15] and announced he was recording a solo record in Austin, Texas. He had played a few new songs earlier in the year on a Minnesota radio program. The album, entitled Clear Heart Full Eyes, was released January 24, 2012 through Vagrant Records.[16]

Lyrical style

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." [17] 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.[18] Although his stories involve violence and heavy drug use, Finn states his songwriting is not very personal or "confessional".[19]

Finn's lyrics have been a frequent point of praise for The Hold Steady[20][21] 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."[22]


Finn has indicated that some of his greatest lyrical influences include Blake Schwarzenbach from Jets to Brazil and Jawbreaker as well as Bruce Springsteen.[23] In a Guardian article, he described The Replacements' Let It Be as his "favorite ever record."[24] He found The Doors' L.A. Woman to be influential in a different manner. As he told the same newspaper: "The music meanders, and Morrison was more like a drunk asshole than an intelligent poet. The worst of the worst is the last song, Riders on the Storm: 'There's a killer on the road/ His brain is squirming like a toad' - that's surely the worst line in rock'n'roll history. He gave the green light to generations of pseuds."[25] He is also a huge fan of Drive-By Truckers.


See also


  1. Deusner, Stephen M. "Craig Finn: Clear Heart Full Eyes | Pitchfork". Retrieved 5 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Deusner, Stephen M. (September 8, 2015). "Craig Finn: Faith in the Future". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2015-09-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Chat: Chat with musician Craig Finn - SportsNation - ESPN". 2011-01-02. Retrieved 2012-01-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Troy Reimink. "The Hold Steady's Craig Finn discusses the role of faith in songwriting |". The Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved 2012-01-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Marchese, David. "Lapsed Catholics and Lost Hoodrats < PopMatters". Retrieved 2012-01-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "I was no longer a loser", Craig Finn, The Guardian, May 11, 2007
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Can't Lose: The Hold Steady's Craig Finn Goes Solo". Grantland. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2014-05-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Hold Steady Biography - ARTISTdirect Music". Retrieved 2012-01-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Kompanek, Christopher (2012-01-19). "Steady as he goes". New York Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. The Hold Steady's Craig Finn Reflects on the Legacy of Lifter Puller, (retrieved 18 June, 2014)
  11. 11.0 11.1 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
  12. "Titus Andronicus Enlist Hold Steady's Craig Finn and Vivian Girls' Cassie Ramone for Civil War-Themed LP".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "The Living End Sets New CD Release Date". 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2012-01-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Orr, Dacey (April 8, 2014). "Song Premiere: Cheap Girls - "Man In Question"". Paste. Retrieved April 10, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes". Tumblr. Retrieved 8/7/2012. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Pelly, Jenn (2011-11-07). "The Hold Steady's Craig Finn Reveals Solo Album Clear Heart Full Eyes | News". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2012-01-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Craig Finn Talks New Solo Album, New Hold Steady Material". Pitchfork.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "reax magazine :: music + culture » Articles". 2008-01-19. Retrieved 2012-01-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. [1][dead link]
  20. "Stay Positive Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved 2012-01-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Boys And Girls In America Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved 2012-01-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls In America - Review". Retrieved 2012-01-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. By Jason, 'Keep it Steady',
  24. Finn, Craig (2007-05-10). "I was no longer a loser". The Guardian. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Lester, Paul (2007-06-14). "Sgt Pepper must die!". The Guardian. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links