Column 340: He Disappeared: The Rise of Depressed Buttons
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
It’s not possible to talk about the debut of Depressed Buttons at hot new dance club House of Loom on Sept. 9 without first talking about the apparent demise of The Faint.
Three members of The Faint — frontman Todd Fink, keyboardist Jacob Thiele and drummer Clark Baechle — make-up Depressed Buttons. So before we talked about the new project, Fink and Thiele set the record straight on The Faint, who haven’t released an album since 2008’s Fasciinatiion or performed live since their appearance at the 2010 MAHA Music Festival. Is the band kaput?
“I would say that it’s not happening,” Fink said last week via a phone call that included Thiele. “It could happen again, but it’s not happening and there are no plans for it to happen at this point. Joel moved to California, and I guess he quit.”
Joel is The Faint’s bass player, Joel Petersen. “He doesn’t want to do the band,” Thiele said. “He really kind of lost interest a while ago. He doesn’t really want us to do the band without him because he wouldn’t like the music we’d make. This way he’s not embarrassed by The Faint’s music.”
“He quit the band and assumes the band was over when he quit,” Fink added. “But we’re not just characters in his life. We all have invested the same amount of energy into the band, and felt like we could do it. His quitting is just that, and if we did do some more shows, we would consider checking with him to see if he wanted to do it, but assume he would not.”
Fink said the remaining members of the band talked about doing a Faint tour next year in conjunction with a possible rerelease of Danse Macabre, The Faint’s career-defining album, released 10 years ago this past Aug. 21. The record sold 147,000 copies, making it the band’s all-time bestseller and among the best selling Saddle Creek Records releases. A new live show would be center on Danse Macabre “and maybe Blank-Wave Arcade,” Fink said. “I’d like to see those two remastered. I think they could be improved a lot.”
If Petersen declined an invitation, Fink said, “We could do it with four of us. There’s plenty of people in the band, or we could find someone else, too. I’d rather just do it with the four of us.” The band is rounded out by guitarist Dapose.
As for Petersen, Fink said his quitting was the right thing to do if he didn’t want to be in the band. “I don’t have any hard feelings about it,” Fink said. “People are just complicated.”
Through Fink, Petersen said he didn’t want to comment for this article. There’s more to The Faint story and everything surrounding it, which will appear in next week’s column.
Fink said Depressed Buttons grew out of Faint after parties DJ’d by Fink, Thiele and Baechle. “One thing led to another and we ended up doing that a lot,” Fink said. “We found ourselves wanting music that we couldn’t find, and thinking we should just make our own tracks, what we want to play.”
The trio soon began taking more bookings outside of the after parties. Fink said Petersen, who doesn’t like DJs, didn’t want the events to be listed as “The Faint DJs.”
“So we thought of a new name, Depressed Buttons, to kind of make fun of electronic music,” Fink said.
Last December, Depressed Buttons released its first EP, QWERTY, on Mad Decent, an L.A.-based label owned by Thomas Wesley Pentz, a.k.a. Diplo, the Grammy-nominated producer of “Paper Planes,” by M.I.A. “We plan to keep releasing our originals through them,” Fink said.
Depressed Buttons also has remixed such acts as Of Montreal, Boy 8-Bit, Boys Noize, Shinichi Osawa, Teenage Bad Girl, Herr Styler, CSS, LOL Boys, Para One, Reset!, Felix Cartal, Tony Senghore, Tommie Sunshine, O+S, Autoerotic, Beataucue and Crookers.
The trio’s DJ stints have included NYC’s Webster Hall, Moscow’s Solyanka Club, shows in Vienna, Nottingham, Berlin, and a headlining gig in front of thousands at the mammoth Avalon Hollywood.
Fink said Depressed Buttons wasn’t made for Faint fans. “The point of it is different,” he said. “The Faint was songs. You could dance to them if you like the song. Depressed Buttons may have words, may have lyrics, does have samples, but think of it as instrumental music. If there are voices, they are used as other instruments.”
As for the upcoming Loom performance, which is part of a monthly residency at the club, “This is a dance party with club music,” Fink said. “There’s no performance aspect to it unless you like watching people tweak knobs and faders and press buttons. The point is to have fun and to dance and to expose Omaha to the type of things that are happening in the world in the electronic club scene. It’s some futuristic stuff; it’s not really for Faint fans, but we are people from The Faint.”
“Depressed Buttons is forward thinking, it’s one second ahead of the rest of the club scene,” Thiele added. “It’s sort of about the science of music. There’s a lot of new music being made that couldn’t have been made until now because the technology didn’t exist. If you’re in the right mindset, in the right club with the right vibe and sound system, it can be a really enlightening experience. I think some people prefer not to dance, but to close their eyes. It’s avant-garde.”
“You can’t go too crazy,” Fink responded, laughing. “It’s still dance music.”
Depressed Buttons performs Sept. 9 at House of Loom, 1012 So. 10th Street. The 21+ show starts at 10 p.m., cover is $5. For more information, go to houseofloom.com.
Also tonight, Ft. Worth dreamcore band Burning Hotels returns to Omaha, this time at O’Leaver’s. The four-piece opened for Thunder Power and Mynabirds a year ago last May at TWR (read the review here). Wonder if they’ll have room for those fluorescent light fixtures… With Rock Paper Dynamite (headlining) and The Big Deep. 9:30, 5 p.m.