Craig Finn is a devout Minnesota Twins fan, even when the Twins aren’t expected to do very well (which is often). He is a devout boyfriend, a devout music aficionado and an even more devout Catholic. He also happens to be the leader of a very influential rock ‘n’ roll band.
The Hold Steady has captivated and divided audiences for nearly a decade with their wildly unique style. Yet, at the end of the day, it’s the band’s lyricism that turns heads. Finn places an unconventional spin on the typical rock ‘n’ roll fodder. Yes, there is talk of drugs, sex and “killer parties.” But there is also talk of God and salvation. Characters in song narratives drunkenly mix citrus and liquor at a party in one line and “feel Jesus in the clumsiness of young and awkward lovers” in another.
It’s a startlingly complex take on the one-dimensional hedonism witnessed in most pop music—and one that has made audiences take notice. Finn’s first solo record, 2011’s Clear Heart Full Eyes (a not-so-subtle shoutout to Friday Night Lights, one of Finn’s favorite TV shows), delves even more deeply into exploring religious themes. RELEVANT recently sat down with Finn to talk faith, growing older and how a rock show can be just as spiritual as a church service.
You recently turned 40. Did you think you'd be playing rock this long?
[Laughs] I think it’s a matter of just waking up and deciding: How are you going to live your life? What’s going to be important to you? What are you going to get caught up in and what are you not?
I think in some ways, your attitude toward each day will determine the outcome of your life, how things are. I feel really blessed to be able to travel and play music for a living and meet all these people.
Tell us a little about your new solo record, Clear Heart Full Eyes. You sound more content on this release.
It’s a quieter record, so I’m not yelling at the top of my lungs. [Laughs] I think I’m in a good place and that some of my struggles are behind me. I get to do what I want.