Q&A: Craig Finn
Minnesota-born singer/songwriter Craig Finn & the Uptown Controllers headline King Tut’s on Sunday 13th October. Support from Laura Stevenson.
You’re also in a band called The Hold Steady, how different is it being a solo artist?
The Hold Steady is such a big sounding band, and I only really write the lyrics for that band. So I’m always trying to tell a huge story, something cinematic with a lot of action in it, etc. With the solo records, I can put a microscope on some smaller stories, that might be more vulnerable or personal. I am really very happy to be able to do both right now, it’s’ like flexing two different muscles.
Tell us about your song writing process?
I very much punch the clock, I sit down and say I’m going to write a song and then over the next few weeks I edit and try to make it a better song. Mostly I try to think about the story I’m trying to tell and how the song can serve that story. The last three records have been produced by Josh Kaufman, who also weighs in on the songs and has a good ear for what’s working and what isn’t.
What music did you listen to growing up?
My first favorite band was the Bay City Rollers! It was the first record I bought, when I was about 6 or 7. A bit later I got into punk rock and hardcore pretty huge though, and also really dug a lot of bands from my hometown of Minneapolis: Husker Du, The Replacements, Soul Asylum. In my 20s I caught up on a lot of classic rock and discovered some deeper songwriters in my 30s. I’m still very into finding new music and go to a lot of shows, etc.
Most memorable gig to date?
There’s been a lot of memorable gigs but one of the coolest was opening for The Rolling Stones at Slane Castle in Dublin. No one goes to see the opener at a Stones show, but it was still super cool! I also got to sing with Springsteen at Carnegie Hall and that was quite enjoyable!
If you could have dinner with anyone in music past or present who would it be, and why?
Joe Strummer -he still inspires me in how he approached the community aspect around the Clash and his fearlessness artistically. I would love for Nick Cave to be at that dinner too, and Springsteen, and….
Favourite thing about New York?
I love not having to own a car. I think walking a lot leads to a good quality of life. I also like the way people communicate here, they are direct and honest.
Favourite thing about Scotland?
So many of my favorite bands are from Scotland, starting with the Bay City Rollers and going through Frightened Rabbit. I’ve had a ton of great times in Glasgow over the years, the fans at the shows are incredible.
Is there anything that you can’t go on tour without?
I need some good trashy rock and roll books. I can’t read anything heavier than that on tour, it’s too hard to concentrate. So a good tell all rock book is perfect. It’s something you can relate to, even if you aren’t living a Motley Crue lifestyle...
Plans for the rest of 2019?
I’ve got a lot of shows. UK/Europe in October. West Coast USA in November. Then we finish up the year with The Hold Steady’s annual 4 night stand in Brooklyn. Not much time off between now and 2020. Which is great, I’m excited for all of it!