Back To The Future: The Faint Reissues Danse Macabre

The Faint

In anticipation of their upcoming remastered release of The Faint’s Danse Macabre, the band are sharing a preview of director Jonathan Tvrdik’s short documentary from the Deluxe Edition’s DVD. The band’s personal collection of videos documenting the recording of Danse Macabre, behind the scenes tour footage, and live shows from the time were mined to offer a glimpse at the world of The Faint circa August 2001 when the album was originally released.
Click HERE for a first look at The Faint’s DVD preview.
The remastered release, which features six bonus tracks from the era as well as an extensive booklet, will be available digitally on October 30 and physically on November 19 in either a triple-disc format with a DVD, or double vinyl that also includes the CDs and DVD. Additionally, the DVD will include the above mentioned archival video footage from the band, live projection videos from that era’s tour dates, the “Agenda Suicide” music video (directed by MK12), some live footage, and more. Copies of the physical release will be limited to 5,000 for the 2xCD/DVD package and 3,000 for the 2xLP/2xCD/DVD package.
In September of 2001, I interviewed The Faint frontman Todd Fink (formerly Todd Baechle) during their Danse Macabre support tour for a feature that was published in Strength Skateboarding magazine.  I kept the full text of the interview, as well as a colorful little that also ran at  It provides some keen insight into where the band was at during that era.  Here it is for your enjoyment Ghettoblasters…
Through the smoke and past the strobe lights, The Faint explodes with the lush electronic textures that are a siren song drawing listeners to the dance floor.  There is an eerie definition to Todd Baechle’s eyes as he bends and bobs through the slight gaps in light and texture.  An uncanny bit of definition — like one of those trick paintings where the subject’s eyes follow you around the room.
Up close, one realizes that the definition to Baechle’s eyes are a trick of the trade — a little eye liner, penciled on to add clarity – to bridge the unspoken distance between performer and observer.  After speaking briefly with Baechle about the aesthetic of the band, one also realizes that while The Faint capitalizes on the familiarity of neo new wave aesthetics (the sonic smoke and lights if you will), they deliver a uniqueness both musically and lyrically to establish their clarity of purpose.
So do you guys have jobs at home or is this a full-time gig?  It seems like you guys are on the road a lot…
We don’t have jobs at home.  We mostly do band related stuff.  We are either writing new music or trying to prepare for a show or working on artwork.  Who knows what else? Working on fliers or whatever.  It always seems like there is a lot of stuff to do.  It doesn’t seem like it is going to stop.
Do you guys have your fingers in all the artwork for the albums?
Yeah definitely. The artwork is definitely as important to us as the music.
It is a package?
If we are going to make a flier or an album cover or whatever we are doing with art stuff, we put as much time into that as we would into a song.
How old are you?
Twenty-seven. Everybody else is younger.
So is The Faint going to be a long term career then?  Can you speculate as to how long you’ll continue to do this?
I don’t think any of us have plans to stop doing this ever, but hopefully we’ll be able to one way or another continue making music and art without having to work jobs.  It’s not likely that that would happen but hopefully we can continue as long as we can.
Did you guys go to school for music?
I did.
Did anyone else or did they just pick it up?
The rest of the people in the band know about music.  They know enough theory to be able to understand what they are playing.  I don’t think of our group as like studious or anything like that.
It seems like most of the folks who write reviews of you guys tag you with a retro label.  Do you think that is deserved?
When we did Blank Wave Arcade the album had a new wave theme.  We had a new wave themed record.  Although we don’t think of our band as any kind of throw back all bands are based upon things that have happened in the past.  We purposely made a record that referenced it in a big way. 
There aren’t very many songs the whole way through where you would think that it is an older band.  There is always something that we put in there that would give away that it is not what it seems.  We just had fun doing it.  This is supposed to be for fun.  When the songs started happening and Joel and I stopped playing guitars the sounds just started sound like that anyway.  We said this is more fun for us to play, it is going to be more fun for us to perform, let’s just do a record like this.  That is pretty much how it came about. 
We haven’t purposely stayed with that sound, but we’ve performed those songs so many times, for years now, and while we were writing our new record we had a little different angle.  But while time passes and things change…we didn’t purposely make it another new wave record but it definitely influenced this record.
It seems like in the mid-nineties there was a media push that made electronic music big.  “Electronica” was a buzz word and then it kind of fell flat.  Was the media premature?
It seems like America bases its trends on European trends.  I don’t know if that is true or not but it seems like if electronic music is huge in Europe it must be the next big thing in America.  The culture is a little different, I don’t know it seems a little different.  I’ve never even been to Europe but I ordered import CDs for a record store for quite a while in Omaha so I had some kind of ear for it.
What record store was it?
It is called Homers it is a little chain.
I’ve been to one down in The Old Market?
Yeah.  There are three good record stores down in that area.  One of them is like a bookstore as well and that one is really great for vinyl and punk and rare jazz and different things like that.  It is more vinyl oriented.  There is another one that is more t-shirt based.  They also sell a lot of underground music. 
The one that I worked at just had a little bit of everything.  It had vinyl and CDs and imports and stuff.  I liked it because it seems like when you work at another type of store you start to think “We’ll this kind of punk music is cool and nothing that we sell outside of our store would be interesting.”  I just kept going from genre to genre.  I would be like I love regae now, I love country now, I love goth, or I love world music.
Do you think that writing music in a place like Omaha provides you with a more or less catalyst rich environment than a place like Los Angeles or New York would?
There are a lot of different things going on in big cities.  There are a lot of different things happening.  When you are in a smaller city it gives you an outside view of what is going on in general.  I guess if you are interested in what is going on you can find out — it’s not like we don’t have magazines about anything.  I like being off the track a little bit though.  It seems like it could be good either way, but I prefer it.
It seems like some bands in the Midwest will make music in their little scene that just doesn’t make sense to anyone and then they get to a big city and people start to get it. You guys don’t really sound like any of the other hot indie or post-punk bands out there.  Do you think not having the outside catalyst of other bands sounding similar helps or hinders you from making the sound you make?
We are definitely consciously avoiding sounding like other bands.  I’m not going to lie.  We are being ourselves completely but if we are writing a song and it starts getting to close to one thing or another, whether it is present or past, and we realize it and it reminds more than one of us of another band, we do something else.  We can think of something else to do. 
I guess that is why we might sound a little bit different, but as a band we are tired of indie rock.  After our first album Media we thought we had tried a bunch of different songs.  I thought, “You know, I don’t even like the way I play guitar.  It sounds like any other band I might go see.  I want to do something different.”  It took time though, it wasn’t just like that, it took a couple of years between the two records.  It seems like a big jump from one to the other, but it really wasn’t.
Did Blank Wave Arcade come out in 1999?
So you guys toured for it for a while then?
It officially came out November 1st but I think we were probably selling it for a while before that.
Do you think it took people a while to catch onto it and to understand it?  I heard Media while I was in college and I graduated and all of a sudden there was a “buzz” about you again.  The last time I came to Little Brother’s to see you I wasn’t expecting to see the crowd that I did, but the place was totally packed.  Do you think it took folks a while to catch on?
It seems like right when that album came out it was significantly different when we were playing live.  More people.  It first happened in Omaha.  We were a band and we had a CD and some people would come to see us and it was cool, we were happy with it, we were doing what we loved.  By the time the CD actually came out and people had it the shows just got more consistently good.  More people came out the longer the CD had been out.  I don’t think it was that the record was one thing or another but we were becoming a little bit better band.  The shows were getting more entertaining, the CDs were getting a little bit better, and it has been steadily growing.
Is it hard to write a dance song that has a message?  To be honest, the first time I heard Blank Wave Arcade I likened it to bands like New Order or Psychadelic Furs, other bands that I love.  Not that I could pin one band or another to the exact sound of that record.  But, it took several listens to realize there are a lot of moral and ethical ideas being presented in that record or the new record…
Well, the way I look at it is that I write the words partly because it is a song and the words are important.  Those were all concerns of mine or interests of mine in one way or another, but that is mostly for when you are sitting down to listen to it.  You know you are listening to the words and you are listening to the music.  But, when we play live I’m not up there hoping that everyone is getting every point that I’m making.  I am really just  a little more realistic about it.  A lot of times you can’t understand the words live.  So I am just trying to have fun with it live, have everybody dancing. 
Some of the songs deal with just letting you enjoy your life and not worrying about if you are dancing funny or who is looking at you.  I think you should live every day like you are going to die at the end of it so even though listeners may not get the message then, just being there you get that kind of message.  You know most people can’t dance well.  But you don’t have to dance well to step out of yourself and have fun.  I think that is one of the best things we can do live.
Who recorded the new album and produced it?  How much of a role did you guys have in that?
We work with the Mogis brothers usually at a local studio.  Mike and AJ Mogis.  The first two records were AJ and the last one was Mike and they were in a band called Lullaby For The Working Class and they are incredible musicians.  Mike is usually playing with Bright Eyes, but he is a really good engineer and producer.  We ended up engineering a pretty good amount by ourselves.  They showed us what to do and we’d stay there really late or all night doing this or that.  But, that is not the hard part, just recording stuff isn’t the hard part.  Just the way that things are put together or mixed, an ear for the mix is something that I envy.  We are all getting better at it as time goes on but it is an art form just being able to listen.  It is more important than being able to play.  The better you can listen to things and understand what you are playing, the better musician you are.
How has Saddle Creek supported The Faint?
Saddle Creek is a cooperative label.  It was started to put out music that we like.  Some people got some money together to start putting out music.  It was obvious which releases were going to be put out.  There weren’t that many bands and it was all people from Omaha in different bands and they have always been really supportive.  I think it is beautiful.  Now it is run by one main guy who has a few people who help him.  The hard part is over really.  It has become a label who can put things out when they want to and be able to promote and make enough CDs to continue.  All the bands I really loved were from there.
How important are the visual aesthetic of your performance?  You have the smoke, you all wear black – is there a significance other than it is entertaining?  What are the bands’ ideas about the significance of that live show?
For years and years we talked about making it more than just playing some songs on stage.  I don’t think it is quite there yet.  It would be nice to have a more theatrical performance with something really to see.  I figure we are going to be around for a lot longer and at some point we’ll probably figure it out.  But, we have to do what we can afford to do now, which is wire a bunch of lights together and try to create a certain atmosphere that is good to dance in.
Do you guys all dance.
Yeah, we go out to the clubs together.  I hurt my neck recently though so I don’t know how much dancing I’ll do for a while.
A couple other things.  Danse Macabre just came out and we expect to do another remix record of that.  We did a really limited edition remix record of the last one.  We are looking forward to putting together another good one for this next one.
Have you met the folks who have remixed your songs?
They are all people that we know now.  I guess maybe there was only one person that we didn’t know before.  We also do some of our own remixes on those because we know what we want.  Hopefully we will have that down the road.  We have some songs that didn’t go on Danse Macabre that we’ll be releasing on 12” only on GSL records. 
Why didn’t you put those songs on the record?
We don’t like having long records.  We were happy with how long the last one was.  I wouldn’t have been upset if there was one more song on it since all the songs were pretty short and there’s nine.  This time we kept with nine but made the songs longer.  I don’t think we want to do records that are much longer than that.  One of the songs that we did is a cover so we didn’t feel right about putting that on an actual album. 
What song did you cover?
Sonic Youth. We had been playing that one for a while and figured we’d do it in the studio to see how it turned out. I’m actually really happy with the way it turned out.
(Catch The Faint on tour in 2012 at one of these dates:

* = with Trust
^ = with Casket Girls
# = with Icky Blossoms

11/08: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre *
11/09: Salt Lake City, UT @ In The Venue *
11/10: Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory *
11/13: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom *
11/14: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
11/16: Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades *^
11/17: San Francisco, CA @ Regency Ballroom ^
11/18: Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theater
11/20: San Diego, CA @ House of Blues ^
11/21: Pomona, CA @ The Glass House
11/23: Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom *^
11/24: Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues *^
11/27: Dallas, TX @ House of Blues *#
11/28: Austin, TX @ Emo’s East #
11/30: Nashville, TN @ Cannery Ballroom *#
12/01: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade – Heaven Stage *#
12/02: Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel #
12/05: Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club *#
12/06: Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero *#
12/07: New York, NY @ Terminal 5 *#
12/08: Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club *#
12/09: Montreal, QC @ Club Soda *#
12/11: Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy *#
12/12: Chicago, IL @ Metro *#
12/13: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue *#
12/14: Omaha, NE @ Sokol Auditorium *#)