Franz Nicolay is a multi-instrumentalist and producer based in Brooklyn. Absurdly prolific and constantly working, Nicolay has been involved as a session player, arranger, collaborator, touring entity, and long-term member of countless bands, as well as maintaining an active solo career. Nicolay began playing piano and accordion in the long-running circus punk collective World/Inferno Friendship Society in 2000 and played with the band for seven years. Another of his notable gigs was as keyboardist/backing vocalist for the booze-soaked working-class rock of the Hold Steady, a position he held from 2005 until 2010. In addition to these bands, Nicolay worked intermittently with Guignol, a Gypsy-punk band he founded with clarinetist Peter Hess in 2002, as well as Anti-Social Music, a nonprofit collective he founded in 2001 with a host of other N.Y.C.-area musicians and composers.
His solo work began with a limited collection of demos he sold at shows in 2007 entitled Black Rose Paladins. A more official debut came in the form of 2009's Major General, followed by Luck and Courage in 2010 and the Kickstarter-funded Do the Struggle in 2012. A slightly more traditionally grounded follow-up appeared in early 2015 with fourth album To Us, The Beautiful. His solo compositions tended more toward lyrical and storytelling songwriting, but incorporated elements from his eclectic and ravenous musical interests. Along with his more regular pursuits, Nicolay has made prominent guest appearances with a wide array of acts including Leftover Crack, the Dresden Dolls, and others. ~ Fred Thomas