The Faint | Self-Fascinated

prof_faint_cd.jpgWe’ve entertained a few offers. But the decision was pretty easy to not take the money and run, or do anything stupid like that.





Some background: The Faint, for those uninitiated, is an Omaha-based throwback ’80s synth-rock band with deep dance undertones and one hell of an engaging live show. They’ve released four CDs on Saddle Creek, including the uber-awesome Wet From Birth and Dance Macabre; the latter also appeared in remix form on Astralwerks. They’ve just issued a new album, Fasciinatiion (yes, the extra i’s are intentional, something about a broken laptop; read on) on their own newly formed label, blank.wav. To say expectations were high would be an understatement.

So maybe it’s partly due to the elevated anticipation, but I’m finding the new disc less than its predecessors. It’s slower, for one, let focused and ass-shaking. Maybe it’s also a result of the band’s split with longtime producer/collaborator Mike Mogis. Or maybe The Faint are puttering out, a novelty band that, oftentimes brilliant, has possibly run its course.

I like to believe that Fasciinatiion is an anomaly, the result of a band following its independence and encountering a few hurdles along the way. Maybe it should be viewed as a debut disc, rather than the follow up to two of my favorite CDs of the past ten years.

But really, what do I know? SPIN gave the new disc high marks; after all, these are paid critics, not doing-it-for-the-love-of-the-game writers like myself. Either way, the guys in The Faint are still good interview material. Below are excerpts from my amiable chat with keyboardist Jacob Thiele.


I’m going to ask pretty much all new album questions, which is probably exactly what you want me to do. First and most obviously, why did you spell Fasciinatiion so strangely?

It was the only choice that we had, in a way. [Laughs] Todd’s keyboard on his laptop…he always seems to have the weirdest problems with computers. For some reason, every time he typed the letter "i," it would type a double "i."

This new album is the first on your own.

We just kinda wanted to try something different; we didn’t know what that was going to be. Originally, it seemed like we were going to go [with a] major [label]. We talked to recruitment and different people. We have these opportunities, and for once we should probably pursue them. But with digital sales and stuff, we had always talked about having our own label. It just seemed like the right time.

Didn’t you guys get some sort of major offer on the last album and then decide to stay with Saddle Creek?

We’ve entertained a few offers. But the decision was pretty easy to not take the money and run, or do anything stupid like that.

I always think that after you’re established, going out on your own is the smartest thing you can do, because you’ve already had the promotion and everyone knows who you are. And then you get to keep all of the money.

Essentially, labels often act like a bank anyway. Now we can spend all this money from all these copies of our albums. The first week or so, that probably cost a couple hundred thousand dollars to do. It’s kind of a scary thought; but then again, it’s like a house. You have to pay off a house for that long.

For this disc you also built your own studio.

The new place is called Enamel. We like to think of the studio as like the dentist polishes that strengthen your teeth. That’s how we think of it, the recording process for the songs. The songs are like teeth, and if you don’t protect them, they won’t stand the test of time.


Here is what I want to leave you with: The Faint have a very impressive pedigree and have long proven themselves as frontrunners in the wave/dance/techno field. Maybe this new disc is a hiccup in their catalog; or maybe it’s just a major leap forward and it’s me who’s stuck in the past. In any regard, Fasciinatiion deserves a listen or two, some time for you to form your own opinions. I’m just one person—a longtime fan, to be sure, but a single listener. I actually hope I’m proven wrong, and that The Faint’s foray into running their own show is wildly successful. After all the great music over the years, these guys certainly deserve it. | Laura Hamlett

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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