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The Hold Steady's Craig Finn on Depression and Obama

August 5, 2008 4:12 PM ET

In Austin Scaggs' interview with the Hold Steady's Craig Finn (RS 1058), the frontman spoke briefly about how the quintet's fourth album is fittingly optimistic. "It's a rage against the dying of the light," Finn says of Stay Positive. "The record ended up being about holding on to youthful ideals in the face of aging." Here's more from Finn about how rest, writing and Obama helped the transition:

The evolution towards optimism began with the recording of the band's third LP, Boys and Girls in America: "I was thinking a lot about depression, and the relationship between depression and creativity. Certainly there's been any number of artists that have done both," he says. "Stuck Between Stations" came from Finn's awareness of getting out of a darker place and starting to take better care of himself. "There was this transition period, where I wondered, 'Wait a minute! This is going to be awful if I get in shape and lose my creativity.'

"At 36, I have to admit there's a lot of time and energy spent on just staying healthy," Finn admits. "If you're not working at it, it's kinda working against you." His checklist of things to monitor includes the standards: drinking ("try to limit it"), exercise ("I'm just trying to stay fit, physically and mentally") and the right amount of rest (sleeping on the tour bus is "like going into this sensory deprivation chamber").

Finn also says the upcoming election — and, in particular, Barack Obama — are giving him new reasons to be swept away. "One of the things I've done with this election is try to be really informed," he says. "In my lifetime, I've never heard a modern speech that makes me feel as inspired as when Obama speaks. This is the most unique presidential election we've seen."

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

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