AD: The Hold Steady recently played a set at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO. How did that come about? Good experience? Receptive kids?
Franz: Amazing, and genuinely both strange and exhilarating. This teacher, Mr. Thom, who runs a program for troubled teens making the transition from middle-school to high-school, was using “Separation Sunday” as the basis of his curriculum all semester: the English classes studied the lyrics for literary references; the geography classes did reports on all the cities we were going to on tour; the math class figured out how much gas between all our stops would cost (answer: a lot.) They called it the “Hold Study”. So he emailed us to see if we could come play seventhperiod when we were in Denver. We said “hell yeah”, and when we got there, they had a huge, homemade “Welcome Hold Steady” banner over the school entrance and allthe kids lined up cheering. One kid playing the”Hoodrat” riff on his guitar. A gym done up like a pep rally, with “Hold Steady Rocks” signs over the bleachers. A HS look-alike contest. An interview by three of the kids, which was actually the best interview I’ve done all year (no offense). Those kidsreally got into it: What would you tell kids about drugs? What do you think about teachers? Do you guys fight, and what about?
AD: As 2005 comes to a close, what exciting things to you see on the horizon for modern music in the next half decade?
Franz: I barely have enough time to think about what I’mdoing this week musically, not to mention trying tokeep body and soul safely apart. I bet all the otherindividuals who comprise modern music feel the sameway. If whatever happens looks retroactively inevitable, it’s for the same reason all the ants inthe hill manage to keep the queen alive.
AD: Being that this is for a music Blog, I want to ask if you are much of an “Internet guy”, and if so what are some of the Web sites or Blogs you tend to check out?
Franz: I don’t sleep that well, which almost by definition makes me an Internet guy cause after a while I can’t be banging on a piano after a certain hour. Helps me keep up on my correspondence but not my sleep. The only Blog I read regularly and will tout to the four winds is Superlefty (www.superlefty.com), who I’ll just say that some newspaper needs to give this one a column post-haste. MP3 Blogs and that stuff I just haven’t had the chance to get into yet. Don’t really know where to start, actually. I’m like most people, I only like reading stuff about my friends. Or Googling myself. Or snooping on total strangers’ most private (except for the entire Internet) musings.
AD: Any 2005 albums you can recommend for our readers?
Franz: Stuff like the New Pornographers, Constantines, Mountain Goats, and Antony & The Johnsons I guess don’t need my endorsement at this point (though they are all totally awesome). In indie-land, I thought people might have missed The Oranges Band’s “The World and Everything In It”, which feels like some kind of culmination for a veteran band; and Demander’s debut,a first step for a band which is gonna do a lot more. Circus Contraption from Seattle is a underground circus troupe that just happens to also be amazing musicians: they’ll do mid-air duets and juggle in the dark, then step over to the piano for a faux-aria, sawsolo, or beer-bottle orchestra finale, and they putout a new record of it called “Grand American Traveling Dime Museum”.
AD: Thanks for your time, before I let you go — what can we look for in ’06 from you and your various groups?
Franz: New Hold Steady record, in the fall maybe? We’re still writing and demoing. In the meantime we’re going to Australia in February. World/Inferno is recording right now with legendary hardcore producer Don Fury (Agnostic Front, Gorilla Biscuits), out on the picturesque off-season Coney Island boardwalk. It’ll probably be out mid-summer on Chunksaah. We’ll betouring Europe in April and July. Guignol is scoring a documentary on the legendary sideshow promoter Ward Hall, and also hopefully going to Europe. And last but most busily, Anti-Social Music: a rather high-profile Merkin Hall show in February, the release of the soundtrack record to our indie-opera “The Nitrate Hymnal” in March on Lujo Records, a tour to theMidwest to record our collaboration with His Name IsAlive, and at some point a split with Dalek of our collaboration: a 20-minute electronic piece, rescoredfor 15-piece amplified orchestra.