The Hold Steady is a Brooklyn-based rock band formed by vocalist/guitarist Craig Finn (ex-Lifter Puller) in 2004. Wanting to capture the sound of bands such as The Replacements and The Grifters, he recruited guitarist Tad Kubler (also ex-Lifter Puller), drummer Judd Counsell, and bassist Galen Polivka. In 2005 the band grew to include Franz Nicolay (of The World/Inferno Friendship Society) on keyboards and Bobby Drake took over on drums following Counsell’s departure.
Recording mostly live, the band released its debut, Almost Killed Me, on French Kiss Records in March 2004 and Separation Sunday a year later. In April 2006 the band signed to Vagrant Records and entered the studio on the 1st of May to begin work on their third record, Boys And Girls In America. Released in October, it was one of the most critically acclaimed records of 2006 and reached a much larger audience than its predecessors.
On July 15, 2008, the band released their fourth album, Stay Positive, recorded again with Boys And Girls In America producer John Agnello. It debuted at #30 on the Billboard 200. It debuted on the UK Album Chart at #15 on July 20, the third-highest new entry. It ranked #1 on the UK Indie Chart. The album was named the best of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly. The song “Constructive Summer” was number 56 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Best Songs of 2008. After Nicolay's departure from the group, the band released their fifth studio album, Heaven Is Whenever, recorded with producer Dean Baltulonis, on May 4, 2010.