Tad Kubler is practically a Madisonian.
The lead guitarist for the Hold Steady grew up in Janesville. He lived in an apartment on Gorham Street (next to Riley's Wines of the World) for a couple of years in the mid '90s. And he remembers making road trips up here to see shows when he was still in high school.
Now Kubler lives in New York City with the other members of the Hold Steady, who play a sold-out show at the Orpheum Theatre's Stage Door on May 18. The indie band are known for their thundering coming-of-age guitar and piano rock. Their sound frequently draws comparisons to Springsteen. Rolling Stone named their Boys and Girls in America one of the Top 10 albums of 2006.
When I called Kubler for an interview last Sunday, he was riding on the band's tour bus. The Hold Steady were en route from Pittsburgh to Cleveland. For 25 minutes, he recalled his Madison memories and the friends and relatives he still has here.
"My mother lives in Madison and works at the university," said Kubler. "One of the closest friends I made back when I lived there was Dave Barber [former member of Inspector 12, now owner of Ear Wax on Gilman Street]."
Kubler, 33, spent a year attending UW-Rock County, where he majored in music. He moved to Madison after that.
"I spent my time there dealing acid and drinking a lot," he said. "And that's about it. I moved to Minneapolis to straighten myself out after my time in Madison."
His earliest Madison memories date back to the 1980s.
"I used to drive up there with friends in high school to see shows," said Kubler. "I remember seeing the Descendents at the New Loft in '87."
In Janesville, Kubler lived across the street from longtime Madison promoter Ken Adamany's ex-wife and two daughters. "They were among my first musical influences. I'd borrow their records, and they brought me the Cheap Trick albums."
Kubler's commanding guitar work is a signature element of the Hold Steady's sound.
The band have the day off after their Orpheum appearance, and Kubler plans to spend some time visiting his old hangouts around town. One date is already arranged.
"I've got an appointment set up at Capitol City Tattoo."