The Hold Steady Perform a George R.R. Martin-Penned Tavern Song

The third season of Game of Thrones is well underway, and in this week’s episode, things started to get real. We won’t give away spoilers, but there was quite a bit of mood whiplash thanks to the choice of end credits tune, the aforementioned Hold Steady cover of "The Bear and the Maiden Fair." After a rather intense installment of the show, Craig Finn took to the "boisterous tavern song" written by A Song of Ice and Fire scribe George R.R. Martin and the show’s composer, Ramin Djawadi.

And, although it may not have been the best fit for time and place, the raucous, boozy sing-along sounds very comfortable in the Steady’s lineup. And appropriately enough, the band will release it as a 7" this weekend, just in time for Record Store Day. If you haven’t watched the episode yet and don’t want to wait until Saturday, though, you can listen to it now below. 

The Hold Steady Performing Original Song By George R.R. Martin

It’s that time again—time for some Game of Thrones news to tide you over until Season 3 begins (It’s so soon, you guys! You’re all doing so great.). Following up on The National’s performance of George R.R. Martin’s original House Lannister conquest anthem “The Rains of Castamere” last season, the show is embracing even more rock musicians, including Coldplay drummer Will Champion and Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody, who both have cameo roles this season.

And another Game of Thrones song is coming soon, too. America’s favorite bar band, The Hold Steady, has been tapped to perform “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” a “boisterous tavern song” written by George R.R. Martin and GoT theme music composer Ramin Djawadi. The song tells the story, unsurprisingly, of a bear who tries to woo a maiden fair. Partnerships with Brewery Ommegang and an old-timey tavern song sung by The Hold Steady? There is a very specific bro demographic HBO is trying to court here with their marketing, methinks.

Just imagine Craig Finn singing Martin’s verses:

“A bear there was,”

“A bear, A BEAR!

“All black and brown,”

“And covered with hair!

“Oh come they said,”

“Oh come to the fair!”

“The fair? said he,

“But I’m a bear!”

“All black and brown,”

“And covered in hair!”

Let’s hope this song makes it into their live sets. Sadly, there’s no recording of this yet, but there will be soon, and the band will release a 7” of it as a Record Store Day recording. In the meantime, let’s listen to The National’s “The Rains of Castamere” again, especially because it includes some rather unfortunate foreshadowing of a big and violent event that will happen this season.

[via Entertainment Weekly]

BlackBook Tracks #4: There Are No More Original 4th of July Puns

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, sure, but why not carry on the party through the rest of the week? Let’s hear it for a five-day weekend, everyone! With that in mind, here’s a loosely patriotic playlist to pair with your upcoming weekend’s woeful lack of a fireworks display.

Primal Scream – “Country Girl”

Sure, Primal Scream are Scottish, but their take on Americana still sounds pretty good.

The Hold Steady – “Atlantic City” (Bruce Springsteen cover)

The Brooklyn band looks to Jersey in this spirited take on the Boss.

The Black Keys – “Dearest” (Buddy Holly cover)

Dan Auerbach may not sound as charming as Buddy Holly, but the Black Keys’ offering was a highlight of last year’s Rave On covers collection.

The Apache Relay – “State Trooper” (Bruce Springsteen cover)

This Springsteen cover from rising Nashvillians the Apache Relay starts off minimalist and slowly builds, showcasing Michael Ford, Jr.’s earnest vocals.

Yelawolf – “Made In The USA” (ft. Priscilla Renea)

According to my sources, Yelawolf is popular abroad because the Alabama rapper is seen as being really good at representing America. Exhibit A.

These United States – “Let The River In”

The band name alone says it all, but this cut from These United States’ self-titled new album will hold up well while you’re throwing some burgers on the grill tomorrow.

Vampire Weekend – “I’m Going Down” (Bruce Springsteen cover)

Vampire Weekend delivered this mellow rendition of the Springsteen classic on their 2010 live EP.

LCD Soundsystem – “North American Scum”

For those of us who have complicated relationships with being American.

Kid Cudi, Best Coast, and Rostam Batmanglij – “All Summer”

While this isn’t an ode to California, it’s a little more inclusive and will sound great while you’re swimming/barbecuing/bald eagle-watching.

HEALTH – “USA Boys”

It’s called “USA Boys,” so it must be them

The Hold Steady Discuss and Perform Their New Album in L.A.

When you’ve done as much press as The Hold Steady, an interview is no longer a creative, cathartic conversation. It’s a planned, predictable performance: verse; chorus; verse; chorus; “We love you, (insert unlovable city here);” and repeat. Fielding questions at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum on May 3rd–the night before the release of the boozy Brooklyn band’s fifth outing, Heaven Is Whenever–bespectacled frontman Craig Finn spouted insightful, if frequently familiar, sound bites. Remembering the accessible appeal of his Minneapolis hometown heroes The Replacements, for example, Finn ripped a line right from a recent Hold Steady interview in Vanity Fair: “[Singer Paul Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson] looked believable. They looked like people I knew. You just don’t know people who look like Steven Tyler!”

You can’t blame Finn for reusing the line. It’s a telling quote, one that demonstrates how The Replacements opened the barroom door for an unlikely rock star like Finn, whose geek-chic style, warm, charismatic smile and infectiously sentimental sing-alongs bring new meaning to the word approachable.

Besides, The Hold Steady have never shied away from repeating themselves. Over a roughly seven-year career, they have crafted a singular sound–combining the communal intimacy of obscure ‘80s hardcore with the universality of ‘70s stadium rock–and populated this musical landscape with a cast of recurring fuck-ups seeking redemption, but settling for a good party. While some bands strive to distance themselves from their past output, The Hold Steady use every release as a chance to do their best Hold Steady impression.

Somehow though, the group’s music always feels as fresh as it is familiar. During a ten-song acoustic set following Monday night’s interview, Finn and company breezed through a series of immediate new tracks stacked with characteristic heart-on-sleeve sincerity and tongue-in-cheek wit. It felt like the first time you were hearing those songs and yet also, the thousandth.

Only the instrumentation sounded completely new. Backed with coffeehouse guitars and twinkling pianos, Finn’s adenoidal emoting stood naked. It was the look of a rock band getting their Counting Crows on. And yet, it never came off as cheesy. Instead, as Finn noted during the interview, the music felt age-appropriate. In a city where most 40-somethings show up to their Botox appointments dressed like toddlers, it was refreshing to see adults who actually look like adults, performing the kind of confident, contented songs you’d hope for from a group that loves what they do.

For many Hold Steady fans–grown-ups who no longer feel represented by most rock music–Finn provides the same type of relatable figure that the singer once found in Paul Westerberg. Finn and company rattle with the energy and inspiration of youth, while also offering the thoughtful peace of mind that comes with adulthood. Similarly, their propulsive tunes hit you like it’s the first time. And yet, when the second chorus hits, you can take comfort that you already know the words.

Industry Insiders: Taavo Somer, Rustic Freeman

Freeman’s and Rusty Knot co-owner Taavo Somer talks about his failed busboy career, the proper use of porno paneling, and why he strives for simplicity when doing three jobs at once.

Point of Origin: I moved here when I was 27, for a job at Steven Holl Architects. And my first day was an immediate wake-up call that it wasn’t gonna work out. I had been working in big firms for years, and this was my dream job. And when that disillusionment came, I thought: screw architecture. I’ll do something else. A friend there knew Serge Becker. I thought I’d be a busboy, learn to tend bar. When I met him, he was like, “Why do you want to work in a bar? I have no busboy openings but I have a project.” It turned out to be Lever House, which he was working on with John McDonald, and the designer Marc Newson. Serge didn’t have a trained architect in his office, so he said, “Do this until a busboy position opens up!”

Occupations: I co-own Freeman’s and the Rusty Knot. I was going to throw a big New Year’s party at a club Serge was opening in Brooklyn. The club didn’t open in time, and Serge felt bad, so he introduced me to this space on Chrystie Street. The landlord was cool with the party, but he said we had to use the alley entrance off Rivington. As soon as I saw the alley, the party dissolved, and I wanted to open a café. I already had a concept for a restaurant, and I just put the concept in the space. That’s how Freeman’s came about. The Rusty Knot is a 1950s nautical bar, really mellow, cheap materials, cheap drinks, 50-cent pool table, free jukebox. It’s got porno paneling, you know, fake wood like the Calvin Klein basement ads. The building itself is pretty unremarkable. But if you find yourself being a snob about something, my instinct would be to embrace and explore it, and that’s when epiphanies occur. It’s born from the location on the West Side highway. It’s not beautiful.

Side Hustle: I never wanted to do just one thing. When I was first in New York I was spending a lot of time in NoLita, which back then was really kinda cool. I started going into Selvedge and lamenting with Carlos [Quirarte, now of Ernest Sewn] about the state of New York nightlife, how there’s no Mudd Club. Where was the good rock party? So we decided to throw our own at the Pussycat Lounge. I started making T-shirts. And we sold them at Selvedge. Then we got in trouble, because the owners didn’t know. But they sold out. If I didn’t have the discipline I learned from architecture I wouldn’t be making clothes today. Now, we have Freeman’s Sporting Club. I design suits and shirts. The aesthetic of the restaurant definitely influenced the aesthetic of the clothing and the store itself. There’s also a barbershop in the store, and we just opened another, FSC Barber, on Horatio Street.

Favorite Hangs: Between Freeman’s and the Rusty Knot, there’s only a couple of nights a week that I’m free. I go to the Spotted Pig, because it’s like family there. I usually eat dinner at Il Buco once a week. I still go to Frank and Lil’ Frankie’s once in awhile … I have friends there. I go to a lot of the dive bars that I used to go to, like Joe’s Bar. In London I go to Rules, and in LA, for whatever reason, I like going to Dan Tana’s.

Industry Icons: Luc Levy, who owns Café Gitane. I love his set-up … he’s got his spot, it’s been open for 11 years, one owner … it’s an effortless business plan. Serge Becker, definitely. You could throw out ideas, and if he used it, he’d always credit you. This guy Jason Mclean from the old Loring Café, in Minneapolis. The place had Shakespeare one night, and a gypsy wedding the next, just weird shit happening. Freeman’s got its artichoke dip from there. Sean McPherson and Eric Goode, too. Even though they have a lot of projects, they’re still hands-on and obsessing about doorknobs. When I designed Gemma, I would go antiquing with them and saw just how much they labored over small details.

Known Associates: William Tigertt is my partner for Freeman’s and Freeman’s Sporting Club. My partner at the Rusty Knot is Ken Friedman, who also owns the Spotted Pig and is about to open John Dory. There are a lot of musicians that I love. My friends, kids I grew up with, are in the Hold Steady. I like what they’re doing. Their approach to music, in contrast with what’s happening in the rest of the industry, is really pretty awesome.

What are you doing tonight? I’ll be upstate. I have a house. I’ll just cook and hang out and garden.