Franz Nicolay Leaves The Hold Steady; Scene Seems Noticeably Less Sunny

Mustachioed Hold Steady multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay has announced he’s left the band. Nicolay, who has served as the group’s keyboardist/accordionist/yelping handclapper since 2005’s Separation Sunday, wrote on his website Wednesday:

You should know: I’ve left The Hold Steady. I told the band I’d be leaving in early September, played my last show with them in Minneapolis around Thanksgiving, and dotted the t’s and crossed the i’s this week. Five years seemed like a nice round number. Thanks to everyone who was a part of the experience, especially the Unified Scene, who are nice folks. I’ll see you all soon in any case.

Many Hold Steady fans, myself included, have come to rely on Nicolay for his disjointed, “Piano Man”-drunk keyboards and regular ‘whoa oh-oh’s on staple songs like “Stay Positive” and “Chips Ahoy!” With his unique talents and stage presence, Nicolay will no doubt be difficult to replace. Though, as The Hold Steady moves forward as a post-Nicolay band, there will be one element glaringly missing: fashion.

Nicolay really raised the style bar for the band, with his aforementioned moustache, newsboy cap, and nicely pressed vest and slacks combo. Without him, The Hold Steady are just five grungy middle-aged dudes with stained pants, ironic t-shirts, and original pressings of Let It Be; not exactly rock stars. But I have faith that Craig Finn and co. can recover this loss by following a few simple tips:

1. Craig Finn needs to buy an ascot, and never be seen without it.
2. Lead guitarist Tad Kubler should bleach his hair, begin wearing muscle t-shirts, and refer to himself exclusively as “T.K.”
3. Hire Daniel Radcliffe as Nicolay’s replacement. The kid is hyper-fashionable, isn’t averse to doing shocking things on stage, and already loves the band.
4. Introduce a new character to the long-running Holly/Charlemagne/Gideon narrative based on Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass. ‘Chuck Crass’ is probably an appropriate name.

Franz Nicolay’s first short story collection, Complicated Garden Techniques, is out in February, and he is currently producing an LP for Brooklyn’s The Debutante Hour. Let’s hope he has many more massive nights down the road.

[Photo: Tad Kubler]

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