Tad Kubler: The Hold Steady are a New York band

Tad Kubler: The Hold Steady are a New York band
Photo by Mark Seliger

As Minnesotans, we just love claiming people as our own. Prince? Ours. Garrison Keillor? OURS. Bob Dylan? TOTALLY OURS. HE WAS BORN HERE. So it's no surprise that every time the Hold Steady returns to the Twin Cities to play a show, we throw up our arms in a welcoming homecoming embrace. After all, lead singer Craig Finn is a born-and-bred native, and his earlier work in Lifter Puller earned him an increasingly nostalgic, cultish local following. And in the Hold Steady, Finn often uses Minneapolis and St. Paul landmarks as backdrops for his lyrical passages, paying homage to landmarks like the Southtown Mall, Payne Avenue, the Grain Belt Bridge, and "Penetration Park" in his songs.

But are the Hold Steady really local? Do we have any right do claim them as "ours"?

In a recent interview with City Pages, guitarist Tad Kubler says that the Hold Steady is without a doubt a New York band. "The band started in New York. It's not like we started in Minneapolis and moved to New York," he said. "I remember Minneapolis fondly, but New York is my home now. This is where my family lives, and my daughter goes to school here. [It's] where creatively my career took off."

Though Kubler joined one of the later incarnations of Lifter Puller and is often regarded as a "local" musician, he actually grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin, and doesn't relate to the history of the Twin Cities music scene as strongly as one might expect. "It's interesting to hear people say, 'Yeah, these guys sound like the Replacements,'" Kubler reflects. "As somebody who writes the [Hold Steady's] music, I don't own a Replacements record."

Finn and his bandmates undoubtedly love playing in Minnesota (they'll be back in town this weekend to play back-to-back shows), and will always have a special place in the landscape of Twin Cities music history. But though their lyrics may suggest otherwise, the Hold Steady are a Brooklyn band.

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