Its not often I find myself in a dark corridor speaking to musicians surrounded by medieval torture paraphernalia with Italian tourists milling around. But thats exactly what happened as 2011 came to a close in Banshees Labyrinth part way through a UK tour with Brighton’s Chris T-T.
For those that don’t know, Franz Nicolay was the moustached keyboardist in The Hold Steady from 2005 - 2010. I first met Franz in a karaoke bar in Manchester in 2008 and at the time if you told me I’d be interviewing him a few years later, I would probably have laughed. Before that Franz was a member of Anarcho-punks World/ Inferno Friendship Society and founded NYC based collective Anti-Social Music. In 2009, Franz released his first album, “Major General” which was largely a collection of songs written over the space of a few years. The autumn brought us “St. Sebastian of the Short Stage”, a 10” with the opening track being a Johnathan Richman cover done with Dresden Dolls. “Luck and Courage” dropped in early winter 2010. A soft beauty of a record with a small backing band providing a solid base for Franz’s talents on the banjo and accordion (which appear on most of the songs).
In between all this, Franz has hardly been off the road taking up live keyboard duty with Florida punks Against Me! through summer 2010 alongside his own solo tours.
This year will see the release of his third LP “Do the Struggle” which was funded entirely through Kickstarter. Naturally there will be more touring, some of which will be following the Trans-Siberian railroad and on through China before returning to the West.
Interview after the jump