The Faint | More Dancing (and Clark’s drums light up)

prof the-faint-daWe try to write about what’s true to us. If world politics are on our mind, we might write a song like “Paranoiattack” or “Erection” as a reaction.



Listening to The Faint’s new album Doom Abuse, I was struck by how solid the album was from a band who had been apart for an extended period of time. Their last album, 2008’s Fascination, had done better than any previous Faint album, but the band decided to take some time away from each other. They went silent, except for a few eclectic appearances, including contributing to a 2009 OMD tribute album, performing “Enola Gay” and appearing, somewhat awkwardly, on the kids’ TV show Yo Gabba Gabba in 2010. The band returned in 2012 to tour for the 10th anniversary of Danse Macabre, their breakthrough Saddle Creek album.

In 2013, The Faint officially reunited and began to create music again. The process of making Doom Abuse deviated from the band’s previous, all-consuming efforts of record making. Fascination had taken the band nearly six years from inception to release. Doom Abuse was created partially in the studio, the band having come in with sketches of songs.

When The Faint took time off after Fascination, they cited the fact that they were not having any fun making music. Anyone who has seen The Faint on stage knows that their music, while often intelligent and moody, is certainly energetic and fun. PLAYBACK:stl’s last chat with the band was during the Wet from Birth tour, an amazing multimedia event with videos, light shows, and the Saddle Creek glow all around them.

The band—Todd Fink (vocals, keyboards), Jacob Thiele (keyboards, backing vocals), Dapose (guitars), and Clark Baechle (drums, percussion)—is currently on tour backing the April release of the very solid Doom Abuse, appearing at the Gothic Theatre in Englewood on Thursday, June 12. We talked with keyboardist Jacob Thiele (with other band members chiming in) about touring, being The Faint, and making Doom Abuse.

prof the-faint-500

It’s been six years since Fascination. Other than the one-offs and the Danse Macabre tour, what is the Twitter synopsis of what you have been up to?

Todd Fink: Dancing to minimal, futuristic techno. Shooting pool. Studying my biases. Unlearning “reality.” Living in CA, GA, and NE with the amazing Orenda Fink [his wife].

Dapose: Drinking tea, watching the world grow in my garden. Working at a nursery. Learning permaculture and traditional Chinese medicine and cooking.

Clark Baechle: Golfing. Drumming. Programming my computer to make art. Programming my brain to understand how to write the code needed to make such art.

Jacob Thiele: Reading, drawing, dancing, learning, exploring. Falling in love. Spending more time with the family. Making electronic music. Not making music for a while.

The band self-produced Fascination, while Doom Abuse was produced by Mike Mogis, who produced Wet from Birth as well as a good chunk of the Saddle Creek catalog. What were the benefits and drawbacks of self-producing Fascination vs. the Mogis-produced albums?

JT: We find that it’s better to have somebody outside the group who really knows their stuff listen to our music and use their magic to make it sound as good as it possibly can. Mike is a genius, and we consider ourselves very lucky to get to work with him and learn some of his secrets.

We’ve survived several previous Faint concerts (and by that, we mean danced ourselves well into coma). What can we expect from the new tour?

JT: We try to bring something fresh to each tour in terms of stage design and production, as well as which songs we play. Since we’ve got a whole new album out, we’ve got a whole new set of songs to choose from, and for the most part they’re fast and upbeat. So yeah, more dancing. And Clark’s drums light up!

What is your definition of “punk”?

JT: Context is key in defining punk, because to so many people it really is just fashion. As a kid, I got into hardcore music and punk meant something more to me. It was anti-establishment and subversive, and serious about its values. But to some people, punk is just an anarchy shirt they bought at Hot Topic, and I respect them for at least trying to be different.

I’m going to be right up front here: One of the songs on Doom Abuse reminds me of OMD (“Damage Control”). What are your musical influences?

JT: I would say OMD is an influence, one of many over the years. I honestly don’t remember any “OMD moments” in the studio for this record. Between the four of us, our influences are all over the place, minimal futuristic techno to classical to no-wave to whatever. If we’re writing a part and it reminds us of something we like, it usually stays in the song, unless it’s just too similar. If we write a part and it reminds us of something we don’t like, it usually doesn’t stay in the song, unless it’s made cool by the new context. It’s complicated when you’ve been doing this for a while and your musical library has amassed as much as ours have.

Saddle Creek and most of Omaha sounds a bit like an incestuous commune (and I mean that in the best way). Obviously, it has been working for many of the groups involved. Is there a downside to it, as well?

JT: I suppose bridges get burned and smaller get-togethers could become uncomfortable. Mostly it’s an upside, though, because we’re kind of challenging each other and competing in a friendly way. And we learn from each other and loan each other gear, time, expertise, and practice spaces. It’s almost entirely a good thing.

In tandem with the previous question, there are lots of side projects that each of the band members participates in. How do you keep future Faint projects flowing with all these distractions? Also, what are the benefits of these side projects and how do they add to a Faint album?

JT: I think that we all learn from any musical project that we get involved with. Depressed Buttons taught Clark and Todd and myself a lot about producing electronic music, just like Dap learned a lot about synthesis and programming while doing his solo projects, Vverevvolf Grehv and Dapose. I think Todd learned something about writing songs quickly some time after joining Digital Leather. We mostly have these projects to fill in time between Faint projects.

Generally, does your music reflect the larger world or more your personal environment? I can listen to the new album and Wet from Birth and not hear much difference outside of perhaps some improving-with-age artistry and my own read on lyrics.

JT: We try to write about what’s true to us. If world politics are on our mind, we might write a song like “Paranoiattack” or “Erection” as a reaction. Some of them are obviously more personal. We just try to always be honest in our songwriting. Musically, I feel like our personal environment and what is going on in the rest of the world have become somewhat synonymous since the internet came around. We try to react against trends and make music that we think is cool and fresh in a way that hasn’t really come into style yet.

What are your animal needs?

JT: Let’s see… Sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll—wait, animals don’t need drugs or rock ’n’ roll, although I’m sure some enjoy them! So I guess: sex, water, food, shelter most of the time (living in Omaha, anyway), sunlight, family, friends, and fun. Those are the bare essentials. | Jim Dunn

Catch The Faint when they play The Gothic Theatre in Englewood, Colo., on Thursday, June 12. Doors at 8 p.m., show at 9, 16+; tickets $26; Reptar and Darren Keen open.

About Jim Dunn 126 Articles
Jim Dunn grew up in NY in the 70s and 80s. Even though that time in music really shapes his appreciation it does not define it. Music, like his beloved history is a long intermingled path that grows, builds and steals from its past. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and a wild bunch of animals.

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