In 2012, Omaha-natives The Faint burst back onto the scene following a 4-year hiatus by heralding the coming of a remastered deluxe edition rerelease of their much-beloved album Danse Macabre. The corresponding tour included explosive stops at The Fonda and Coachella 2013, both of which managed to surpass my already-lofty expectations. Having recently released their sixth studio effort, the decidedly punk-leaning Doom Abuse, the band is poised to do the same with a trio of shows at The Roxy this weekend.
I recently had a chance to chat with frontman Todd Fink in between tour stops about the decision to rerelease Danse Macabre, the inspiration behind Doom Abuse’s punkier sound, and how he got that cool last night.
You guys came out of the woodwork to rerelease and tour my favorite of your albums, Danse Macabre. Why that particular album?
For a lot of people, that was the first record they heard from us. I think it’s a good record, too. It wasn’t an even number of years or anything, but we always play a lot of music from it anyway, so we decided to repress it as a special edition.
Your latest release, Doom Abuse, comes six years after your last album, Fascinatiion. What was happening behind the scenes during that hiatus?
After Fasciinatiion, we all kind of lost interest in doing The Faint. I had always looked at the band as something we’d be doing for a while, but once we stopped, the idea of that sort of faded. After we wrapped up with the last album and tour, I moved to California for a year and a half and then moved to Athens, Georgia for a year. For a while I thought about settling down there, but I already have a house and family in my hometown, Omaha. I came back home with no real plan of getting the band back together, but after some time, it ended up falling into place.
Compared to past releases, you guys have pulled back a little on the electronic elements and dialed up the punk for this latest release. I thought that was an interesting shift given the larger mainstream acceptance of electronic music since your last release.
A lot of us have spent the time post-Fasciinatiion making electronic music of one kind or another. I got really into it, personally. I enjoyed learning the production of it and understanding how it all works just because there are aspects of music present in that world that I hadn’t really focused on in the Faint.
I think by the time we were excited about working as The Faint again, we were reacting against how electronic everything had gotten. We just wanted to play in a room, play loud, and feel excited and in the moment, which is kind of the opposite of what electronic music has become, for me at least.
Not that I’d categorize your past stuff as “uplifting” per say, but the tracks and videos for Doom Abuse have hit a new level of dark for you guys. Anything motivating that?
Not really. When we’re in the studio, we make songs we want to play, and that’s just what came out. We made songs in the past that are “happier” sounding — major key songs — and a lot of times we don’t really feel like playing them live as much. We concentrated on creating songs we’d know we’d want to play live on this record.
After releasing several albums via Saddle Creek, you went to your own record label, blank.wav, for Fasciination in 2008. Your newest record, though, was released on SQE. What prompted the switch back to a label?
Regardless of the label, we’ve pretty much always had creative control. For Fascinatiion, we realized we could do it ourselves so we did. We weren’t being bossed around by Saddle Creek or anything; it was more a matter of “Well, why not?”
For this record, we just wanted to concentrate on the music part. Labels help you get the records made and distributed, loan you money to make your videos, and whatnot. When it came down to who was going to put out our record, we compared deals and we went with the label one of our managers’ assistants left to start, SQE.
Personally, I think this is bullshit, but LA crowds have a rep for being uptight at live shows. With you guys, though, every show I’ve caught live over the last several years has been insanity! What are your thoughts on LA crowds and LA as a city?
I lived there for a year and a half, and I loved it! I don’t think the crowds are harder to get going compared to any other place. One of our first shows in LA forever ago at The Smell was one of the sweatiest shows I can remember.
A feat you’re probably going to repeat during your upcoming three-night stand at The Roxy.
Yeah, I like playing smaller places with low ceilings. I feel like it just keeps the energy higher. I was reading one of David Byrne’s books last year, and he talks about how music is made to be played at certain venues and how the sound of an album is actually influenced by where the person who’s making it thinks he’s going to be playing it. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. When we first started making the album, I was thinking of where we would be playing the songs, and yeah, I was picturing small rooms.
In addition to being a fan of The Faint, I also really dig your wife’s band, Azure Ray. Do you guys keep your music lives separate or is there a co-inspiration dynamic there?
We’ve been working together a lot more over the last several years. During my break from The Faint, I spent a lot of time honing my skills in music production. I did an EP for Azure Ray a little while back. [Orenda] will also have me do different beats for her live shows. She’s got a new Orenda Fink solo album that’s coming out, and I’ll be playing in her band’s shows when I get home. We’ve been posting other tracks and covers on SoundCloud, but we’ll probably get a real project together up at some point.
Cool with sharing the story behind taking her last name?
Yeah, around the time we were getting married, she had just done her first solo album outside of Azure Ray as Orenda Fink. It didn’t seem like her changing her name at the time was the right thing to do, though she was fine with it. We didn’t know if we were going to have kids or anything, but if we did, I didn’t want to worry about which name the kid would have if we each kept our names, so I just decided to go with her name.
My last name is impossible to pronounce. Baechle. I don’t think anyone’s ever gotten it right just trying to sound it out, so it was easier and more convenient for me anyway. The whole process was kind of a hassle, to be honest. They make it a lot easier when women are getting married — you just sign some paper on the way out. I had to hire a lawyer, pay a bunch of money, and make several visits to the courthouse to get it finalized.
The Faint will be coming to The Roxy for a three-night stand on June 6th, 7th, and 8th. Tickets for the June 8th show are still available.
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