Known for his waxed mustache and theatrical keyboard work with The Hold Steady, Franz Nicolay has just released his second solo album, Major General. Nicolay showcases his eclectic style throughout, tinkering with piano, accordion, guitar, mandolin, saw and harmonica. His tenure with The Hold Steady has given him a rock aura somewhat tempered by his founding of the Anti-Social Music Collective and his work with the gypsy-klezmer troupe Guignol. Starting in 2007, Nicolay mixed all of these styles into a set of solo demos that he sold at performances. The next year, he began work on Major General.
Full of smart, poetic lyrics sung in Nicolay's hyper-emotional tenor, the album is a blend of punk, rock and cabaret. Tracks range from rolling piano ballads to jingling klezmer tunes. He's enlisted the talents of Yula Be'era of Nanuchka, Brian Viglione, Jared Scott of Demander and World/Inferno saxophonist Peter Hess to craft a solo record of intriguing diversity.
Here, he joins host David Dye at WXPN's studios.