The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady
Formed in 2003, The Hold Steady have released six albums, numerous singles and played over 1000 shows during the past 15 years.
The Brooklyn-based band has performed in all 50 states in the USA, nearly every province in Canada and throughout Europe and Australia.
In November 2017, The Hold Steady released their first new music in over three years when they put out the songs “Entitlement Crew” & “Snake In The Shower” ahead of their (now) annual week-after-Thanksgiving four night stand at the Brooklyn Bowl. In March 2018, ahead of a sold out weekend at The Electric Ballroom in London, the band released two more new songs, “Eureka” and “Esther”.
2018 will see The Hold Steady re-issue a 10th Anniversary Edition of their fourth studio album Stay Positive, featuring b-sides and previously unreleased outtakes.
The band will play a series of special weekend shows beginning in July called “Constructive Summer”.
On Thursday July 26 & Friday July 27 we are taking the Constructive Summer to Philadelphia for two shows at the awesome Union Transfer club. The next day, Saturday July 28, we move the party a bit east to Asbury Park NJ with a show at the new Asbury Lanes. We have a cool merch bundle available for these shows. We will also be doing two Soundcheck Happy Hour events, one before each of the shows at Union Transfer. You can also buy a three day pass for these shows. Really looking forward to being with all the friendly friends in Philly and to get some summer beach weather down in Asbury. Join us! Stay Positive!
The Hold Steady is: Bobby Drake (drums), Craig Finn (vocals), Tad Kubler (guitar, vocals), Franz Nicolay (keyboards, vocals), Galen Polivka (bass), and Steve Selvidge (guitar, vocals).
First there’s the choppy E chord, revving the song like a boot stomping a gas pedal: the sound of all that excess energy built up at the start of the night. Then comes James Alex’s fine-grain sandpaper voice: “Play it loud, play it fast / Play me something that will always last / Play it soft, play it quiet / Play me something that might save my life…”
James Alex, songwriter and front man for Philly indie-punk outfit Beach Slang, knows wherefrom he sings. Like a lot of us, Alex is that kid Lou Reed sang about, the one whose life was saved by rock and roll. And A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings (Polyvinyl), Beach Slang’s second full-length, is just that—a crash-and-thunder collection of songs about what it takes to keep yourself going, to make it through the rest of the night—hell, through the rest of your youth—and beyond.
Coming off a string of acclaimed EPs, Beach Slang’s first album, 2015’s The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, won remarkably effusive acclaim from a number of critics, and wound up on several “best-of-the-year” lists. James wrote much of A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings on that album’s support tour, during which he spent a lot of time with the kids who’d picked up the record.
“A lot of the songs [on Loud Bash] are the stories of the kids who got turned on to Beach Slang by the first album,” says Alex. “They’re autobiographical, too, but kind of at a remove—I’m not that young kid anymore, but I used to be. You know how it is; rock and roll is a new crop of 15-year-olds picking up guitars every year and having at it. There was something really cool about documenting someone elses life, but seeing myself in it. I suppose that’s why we connect. We’re all kind of one big gang.”
The same could be said of Beach Slang itself, whose members came together very organically. After logging 15 years in Weston, the much-praised Philly hardcore punk outfit, Alex brought the songs that would become Beach Slang’s first EP to an impromptu jam session with outside musicians, including future bassist Ed McNulty. “It felt right, right away,” says James. “It was one of those rock and roll moments.”
Going into the second record, Alex didn’t feel a sense of pressure to match the broad, unexpected success of the first. “What I did feel was a sense of responsibility to the kids who told me they were finding something in our music that brought them back from a bad place, the ones who were getting Beach Slang tattoos and quoting lyrics to me after the shows. I don’t want to let those people down. As a 20-year-old, I thought, hey, let’s all have fun, we’re gonna live forever. You don’t really see the finish line. Now it’s more like, am I leaving behind work that’s going to matter? What’s this going to say about me when I run out of air, and my son is listening to these records and tapes that I left behind. Is he going to say, “Yeah, my dad was all right”? These days I feel like I’m responsible for things bigger than myself. And I want to do right by them.”
Indeed, Alex is that rare songwriter who can create songs that blend his own Young Man Blues with the grown man’s earned perspective. Check the arresting “Punks In A Disco Bar” and “Spin The Dial” for his skill at merging full-throttle hooks with memorable, whip-smart lyrics, or “Art Damage” and “Wasted Daze Of Youth” for a lesson in how rock and roll can be sinister and dissonant, and still end up beautiful.
For all the volume and the fuzz and the fury, Beach Slang is a band for sloppy romantics who got there the hard way (“I still taste you in the ash / of every cigarette you kill,” sings Alex). And that’s how the band wants it: “Whether this Beach Slang thing flies or falls,” says Alex, “we want to know that we put everything into it. We’re a rock and roll band; we make records and we tour. We want to sweat it and bleed it. We want to do it like the bands we love and respect did it.
“Without these guys,” James Alex says, “my life would feel really, really empty. And I have a full, beautiful life. But you know how some people have the ‘god hole’? I have the rock and roll hole. I’m that kid with the posters on his wall. Whether I’m right or I’m wrong, I’ve convinced myself this is why I’m here.”
Beach Slang—plug it in, turn it up, and let it scream.