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- Posted on Jan 27th 2010 3:30PM by Mike Ayers
"In the Hold Steady, I was kind of a fox in a hedgehog band, the Isaiah Berlin thing about the hedgehogs who have one defining idea and the foxes who have a lot of different ideas." Nicolay said. "So this is going to let me indulge a lot of those different ideas. "[The Hold Steady] have their one big idea -- making literate, wordy lyrics over big anthemic rock -- and the last two records were about as good as I felt like I could do with that idea."
This shouldn't come as too big a surprise. Nicolay's been cultivating a rather theatrical solo career over the last few years, culminating so far with his first solo release, 'Major General,' last year. But he's also played in Klezmer-leaning bands such as Guignol and World/Inferno Friendship Society, as well as recording with the Dresden Dolls.
"I'm appealed to by the vaudeville tradition because I think it's the tradition in American popular music that's really strong and really unique to American history and a little bit forgotten," he said. "These multi-talented performers who were on the road for 300 days a year and they could do a little tap-dancing and they could do a little singing and they knew a couple jokes ... toward the end of whatever works, whatever entertains, whatever gets them over."
He further elaborated that his girlfriend's Christmas present to him was tap lessons, and that the next step he'll take is trying to figure out the easiest way to incorporate a banjo into the routines he fleshes out.
Yet the question still remains: is the fickle indie world that he's known in ready for this sort of thing? Tilly and the Wall have successfully incorporated tapping as a percussive instrument into their act, and Sufjan Stevens pretty made the banjo cool while wearing giant butterfly wings on stage. So, really, anything is possible.