New York

The Hold Steady Totally Rocks Some High School


Last night, Pitchfork News dropped the bomb that next month the Hold Steady, the band behind what may be Status Ain’t Hood’s favorite album of the year thus far, would be playing a show at the Littleton High School gym in Littleton, Colorado as part of a program for kids having trouble making the transition from middle school to high school. This seemed pretty awesome, and so Status Ain’t Hood had to get at Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn to figure out what the fuck was up with that.

So you’re playing at a high school in Colorado?

Yeah, this guy e-mailed us, and he came our music through the piece that NPR did on us. He bought the CD and brought it in and started using it to teach these kids he had something about, like, literary allusions, that kind of thing. All the correspondence has been with him, but apparently the kids have taken to it, and he saw that we were coming and we had a day off before, and so he just asked us to come by. They’re having a lot of fun with it. I actually told Pitchfork that they’re having a Hold Steady look-alike contest, which is pretty rad.

So that’s definitely happening?

Yeah, that’s what he said, unless he was making it up. Franz, our keyboard player, has that handlebar mustache, and I predict a lot of entries with him. I think you could do something glasses-based for Tad or me, but after that it gets a little tricky.

So a lot of drawn-on handlebar mustaches?

I’m guessing. I’m hoping that the Hold Steady look-alike contest is on the same day because I want to see that. Hopefully there will be photos.

So you’re not going out to Colorado specifically for this thing?

No, we’re on tour. We have a show that same night in Denver in a real bar.

Is the show going to be anticlimactic after that?

I hope it’s a different type of show. I hope it’s a different vibe. It’ll be interesting to see because you have to figure that these kids’ parents are more likely to be our age, or maybe five years older than us, ten years older than us, but more likely to be into the music we’re playing than they probably are. You know what I mean? Kids today just seem to like hip-hop now. I’m not sure they like rock, do they?

I don’t know.

I mean Staind and stuff like that, but that’s not really, I don’t know.

So are you anticipating a skeptical audience, then?

Maybe! You always wonder, if the teacher’s really into it. But I think it’s really cool. I actually think, and I’m guessing you can relate, most people we know can relate, that there is a really comfort in music. These kids are at-risk.

Yeah, this is a high school for kids…

It’s a program within a high school, I think. It’s at-risk kids, and it’s junior high age. It’s the kids who, I think, are having a hard time transitioning from junior high to high school, and it’s at-risk kids, ESL, etc. I think there’s an English as a second language element to some of it. [Laughing] I think it’s going to be really great; I’m really looking forward to it.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Littleton is where the Columbine massacre happened, isn’t it?

Yes, it was, and I just realized that yesterday; it hadn’t come up to me. That’s an interesting side story as well, in that God knows if this program was created in the wake of that or something like that. Maybe we’ll know more about that when we get there. Columbine High School was in Littleton; I wonder if they closed that school or if it’s still around. Maybe they renamed it or something like that. There is something really interesting about that. But I think it’s really exciting; there is a positivity in rock and roll that I think reflects.

Are you going to be playing an acoustic set like the one at CMJ?

Yeah, we’ve been doing that at those kind of things, things like radio stations and in-stores, for a couple of reasons. One, if there’s not a PA that’s adequate it’s not going to sound like shit. Number two, it usually happens around a real show that we’re going to play, and there’s a lot of equipment and all that. And number three, it somehow keeps our head in the game. It’s easier to focus on doing something on the fly because we don’t rehearse for those things. I think we’re going to do that because I don’t think the school has a sound system that’s going to allow us to play right.

And also, one thing I was noticing at the CMJ show is that you can hear your lyrics a whole lot more clearly.

Well, sure. The lyrics drive it a little more. It is kind of cool for turning on new people who might not be able to hear it when we play live. It’ll be a different audience!

The Hold Steady will be playing at Maxwell’s on Friday.
Download: “Your Little Hoodrat Friend”
Download: “The Swish”

Voice feature: Joe Gross on the Hold Steady

Archive Highlights