Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Dec 1st 2009 4:10PM by Dan Reilly
"It's more negative, maybe more nihilistic," Finn tells Spinner of his old songs. "When we started the Hold Steady, I became more aware of trying to make things more positive because I felt a duty to do something. Lifter Puller was pretty much all in the gutter. But when you're 26 or 27, you spend more time in the gutter and feel better the next day."
While the upbeat attitude might be missing, Finn says his time in the "gutter" with Lifter Puller was a great period in his life. "Lifter Puller was always somehow wilder. It was more dangerous," he says, comparing it to his current band. "Lifter Puller would make a more entertaining movie than the Hold Steady. There is kind of an 'us against the world' thing that I feel when I see the older photos."
The band eventually split amicably in 2000 but somehow managed to see their fan base grow. "Nine months after we broke up, out of nowhere there was an article in the Village Voice about us," Finn says. "It wasn't a timely review but it was a very good review. That was kind of weird. When I was living in New York, people started stopping me on the street. I never felt like we got that much recognition and I just started meeting people that told me they loved Lifter Puller. Word of mouth travels slowly but it does travel and I think that's what happened."
After a few years and a handful of reunion shows, Finn reconnected with Lifter Puller bassist Tad Kubler to form his current band. "It was baby steps. With Lifter Puller, the one thing that was tough for a band at that level is you want to play music but you end up really dealing with your van a whole bunch," Finn says. "Your van's always breaking down and you end up learning a lot more about automotive stuff than you wish you would. I wanted to remove that from the Hold Steady -- I was just not interested in hauling gear. Eventually it just kind of snuck up on me and here I am hauling gear most days."
Now that he's out of the proverbial gutter and in a largely successful rock band, Finn says he thinks his style of songwriting has changed along with his lifestyle. Sure, Lifter Puller's tunes feature his unique voice and a fictional universe of hard-partying characters like the Hold Steady's Charlemagne and Holly, but Finn is more concerned with the technical aspects. "Generally -- and I hope this is true -- I've become more musical, paying attention," he says. "In Lifter Puller a lot there wasn't always a ton of attention paid to what the other guys were doing. It was just me yelling all over the place -- I had a page of lyrics and I was going to say it sometime during the song, just kind of spouting off. Now, I try to think musically about my parts"
But most of all, one of the main thing Finn has noticed about being in Lifter Puller came from looking over all his old photos. "Everyone looks really skinny," he says. "That's the difference between being in your 20s and your 30s."