Craig Finn (born August 22, 1971) is an American singer and guitarist, best known as the front man for The Hold Steady and his former band, Lifter Puller. Described by Pitchfork as "a born storyteller who's chosen rock as his medium," Finn's lyrics are often noted for having a strong literary bent, stringing together recurring characters and storylines throughout.

During a five-month break from The Hold Steady, Finn recorded a solo album, Clear Heart Full Eyes, which was released in January 2012.

Personal life

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Finn grew up in Edina, Minnesota. He was raised Catholic. Finn attended Valley View Middle School and subsequently graduated from Breck School, and in 1993 from Boston College. In 2000, Finn moved to New York City, where he currently resides. Finn lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with his girlfriend Angie Bentfield, whom he has been dating since 2006 .

Musical career

With Lifter Puller:

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With The Brokerdealer:

Craig Finn did a short stint of work with Mr. Projectile after moving to New York City in the fall of 2001. The result of this was two EP's.

Untitled EP 1

If Not For Hipster Pictures,

Give Me My Body Back,

The Last Ones Up Become Lovers,

Untitled EP 2

Sophmore Slump,

Mommy Can I Go Out and Chill Tonight,

Do Me Nails,

The Dead Ones Look Like Dolls,

With The Hold Steady:

He moved to New York City in the fall of 2001, after Lifter Puller broke up, for a change and because he and his wife knew people there. He has said that lyrically, with The Hold Steady, he's been trying to produce a more positive, coherent, story-based message, in a natural way that he could imagine someone saying.

Work with other artists:

Craig Finn provided his voice to Titus Andronicus's second album, The Monitor. He is the voice of Walt Whitman at the very end of their song "A Pot in Which to Piss" .

He worked with Minneapolis rapper P.O.S. on the song "Safety In Speed (Heavy Metal)" which was released on the 2006 album Audition.

In between Lifter Puller and The Hold Steady, he did a project with Mr. Projectile known as The Brokerdealer, a techno styled group. They released two unnamed EPs on http://www.thebrokerdealer.net/. This website has shut down, but the songs are still floating around the Internet.

In 2010 he co-wrote, with Chris Cheney, the title track from The Living End's 2011 album, The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, while Cheney was in New York. After working together, Cheney called Finn "a hell of a lyricist".

Solo:

In July 2011, Finn started a Tumblr account and announced he was recording a solo record in Austin, Texas. He had played a few new songs earlier in the year on a Minnesota radio program. The album, entitled Clear Heart Full Eyes, was released January 24, 2012 through Vagrant Records.

Lyrical style

Finn is most notable for his narrative, storytelling lyrics that make reference to literature (ex: Sal Paradise and John Berryman on "Stuck Between Stations," William Butler Yeats and Nelson Algren on "Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night") and pop culture (ex: Rocco Siffredi on "Most People are DJs," Joe Strummer on "Constructive Summer"). Frequent references to youth culture, partying, religion and drugs are also made in Finn's lyrics.

Both with Lifter Puller and The Hold Steady Finn has woven various characters (ex: Charlemagne, Holly, Gideon) and locations (ex: Ybor City, Mississippi River, Twin Cities, Osseo Minnesota) through his songs. Finn has stated that "irony is certainly not something I want to be accused of," instead hoping to bring "honesty and sincerity" through his songwriting. Although his stories involve violence and heavy drug use, Finn states his songwriting is not very personal or "confessional".

Finn's lyrics have been a frequent point of praise for The Hold Steady with Uncut Magazine describing his style as "narratives driven less by the wordy exposition of yore than acute observation, devastating detail, by turns exclamatory, epigrammatic and grainily authentic."

Influences

Finn has indicated that some of his greatest lyrical influences include Blake Schwarzenbach from Jets to Brazil and Jawbreaker as well as Bruce Springsteen. In a Guardian article, he described The Replacements' Let It Be as his "favorite ever record." He found The Doors' L.A. Woman to be influential in a different manner. As he told the same newspaper: "The music meanders, and Morrison was more like a drunk asshole than an intelligent poet. The worst of the worst is the last song, Riders on the Storm: 'There's a killer on the road/ His brain is squirming like a toad' - that's surely the worst line in rock'n'roll history. He gave the green light to generations of pseuds."