by Matt Kelchner
After a very successful PledgeMusic campaign and a new EP last year, The Hold Steady return this year with their sixth studio album, Teeth Dreams. This year also marks the 10th year anniversary of the band, another milestone most bands cannot say they’ve met. Last week I caught up with longtime and founding guitarist, Tad Kubler, to chat about the new record and the big differences between it and their PledgeMusic funded EP, RAGS.
I spoke with Kubler on April Fool’s Day and while no pranks were played on one another, he shared one of his all time favorites that he has assisted with. Back in the early years of the group, Kubler handled booking the plane tickets for their former front of house sound manager to meet them at the first stop of the tour. “When you book plane tickets [for someone other than yourself], you have all these options you can give them,” Kubler tells me. “It’s everything from a kosher meal to a wheelchair. You can even mark if they’re blind and need assistance”.
Kubler goes on chuckling along the way as he recounts the pranks. “I used to check at least three or four of those things. When he would show up in New York he would be exhausted from trying to explain to people that not only could he see but he also did not need a wheelchair.” This was not a one time thing, either. These unexpected surprises would come up every time the band toured. “It got to the point where every time he flew to New York, he knew it would it a fucking adventure,” Kubler adds right before we move on.
Once we finished discussing Kubler’s favorite pranks, we got in to what the band has been up to these past few years. In two years they have two released, one EP and one new album. For the EP, the band took to the music based crowd funding site PledgeMusic. “I wanted it to be something that was extracurricular and fun and different, something outside of a record release,” Kubler tells me. They wanted to do something outside of the typical rock life-cycle of releasing an album, touring behind it, come back and write a new one.
The band had two goals in setting up the Pledgemusic fund. The first was to setup a fan club scene and structure and to create a platform for better connecting with the fanbase. The second was to raise money for a foundation in honor of the band’s late close friend, Jersey Mike, and his family.
For Teeth Dreams, the group’s recently released album, they decided to do things in a more traditional fashion. “For an album, I still believe that the best way to do that is to partner with a record label,” Kubler explains. The group still values the specialization each role in the record making process holds. He adds, “our expertise as a band is not putting out a record, it’s making them”.
For Kubler and company, they leave the business side of the music industry up to those within the record labels. They handle the creative process and leave the business process up to their label. It’s a familiar formula that has suited The Hold Steady well throughout their successful careers so far.
Teeth Dreams was released last month and already has stellar reviews from fans and media alike. In keeping up with the cycle, they are also currently on tour to help support it. On Monday, they come to the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, one of Kubler’s favorite venues in the entire country. Next month, they return to the area to take part in Non-COMM at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.