Column 341: More Questions (and Answers) with The Faint; Deleted Scenes tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:40 pm September 15, 2011

The Faint press photo

Column 341: More Questions (and Answers) with The Faint

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This week continues last week’s interview with Todd Fink and Jacob Thiele of The Faint, who, along Clark Baechle, also make up Depressed Buttons. DP had its world premier at House of Loom last Friday night.

I figured while I had Fink and Thiele on the line, I might as well ask a few questions that have been burning in the back of my mind for a long time. Questions like:

Why did it take so long — sometimes between three to four years — for The Faint to put out a record? Will writing music for Depressed Buttons be faster than writing music for The Faint? 

“Yes,” Fink said, “but anything would be faster, absolutely anything. Writing a symphony would be faster.”

The story goes that The Faint has always been run like a democracy — nothing gets done without unanimous consent from every band member, which also includes guitarist Dapose and former bassist Joel Petersen. And as we all know by watching our own government, democracy can bring progress to a grinding halt.

“We could bang out a song quickly,” Thiele said, “but then a couple months later, we would decide that we should probably do a version with a different bass line, and then do a whole new version.”

“The fact that we were too democratic was a problem,” Fink said. “There were too many people who were full of themselves. If there was a bully in the band, it was probably me. Making records is tough if you want them to be any good. Having a record done is always so awesome, but it started to become more work than it was worth. It got harder each time, and less fun.”

Fink, who wrote The Faint’s lyrics, also said coming up with the words could be tough, especially since he has a rather random thought pattern. “It’s kind of hard for me to write songs that make linear sense,” he said. “I don’t think the words themselves are hard if you have something to say, but I don’t like to write when I don’t have anything on my mind.”

So why not simply tour with old material? Are you afraid you’d be milking your past success?

“When you go on tour and don’t have a new record, you lose momentum,” Fink said. “Your name is not out there as much, and you’re not in people’s consciousness. It’s inevitable that you’re attendance will go down. And that could be fine, but that is milking it, and eventually you end up with no more milk.”

Still, Fink and Thiele said you’re more likely to see The Faint on stage before you hear a new Faint album. “We love playing shows,” Thiele said. “At this point, we’re putting our efforts into Depressed Buttons. But I’m guessing someday something will come up and someone will want (The Faint) to play a show.”

“It’ll probably be a festival tour,” Fink added. “It’s a big deal for us to get to the point where our show is ready to go. There’s a lot more involved than anyone understands. If we’re going to do a show, were going to do a tour; it would be a huge cost time-wise to do just one show.”

In fact, Fink said The Faint may never make another album. “It seems more likely that we’d just play shows and record a couple songs, because albums… I don’t know about albums,” he said. “It would be cool if you could put them out on vinyl, but otherwise I don’t know why everyone has to put out a collection. We knew when we made the last CD that it would be our last CD, even though we weren’t planning on breaking up.”

If recording is now going to take a back seat to performing, then what about Enamel, the 100-year-old brick building renovated as a state-of-the-art recording studio in downtown Omaha, owned and operated by The Faint?

Thiele said Enamel was always former member Joel Petersen’s idea. “It was sort of his project, his idea to spend our money on it,” Thiele said. “He was recording and mixing bands there for awhile. But he didn’t want to stick around and do it.” Petersen, as mentioned last week, has moved to Los Angeles.

Thiele said the band now uses Enamel for personal projects, including Depressed Buttons, and also rents the space to other bands — a process that resulted in one band’s engineer blowing up some of their sound equipment. Fink said once the studio is back up and running, bookings will resume “and maybe (we’ll) get someone in there that takes it on full-time. We’ll use it when it’s not being used.”

Finally, whatever happened to Goo, the off-the-hook dance party series that launched at The Slowdown shortly after the club opened in 2007?

Fink said Goo parties were hugely successful, that is until Slowdown decided to make the parties 21-and-over. “We thought that room would be too big to do without (the under-21 crowd),” Fink said. “That’s where the energy is — the kids that show up early and start dancing. We were worried that it would become a crappy party, so we only do Goo for holidays and special events, which has been awesome. We’ve decided not to do anymore at Slowdown for now, and are going to try restarting it at Loom on Oct. 28 for Halloween.”

The Halloween connection makes sense, since costumes have always been a part of Goo, whose DJs also included Derek Pressnall (Tilly and the Wall, Icky Blossoms) and Nate Smith. “The difference between Depressed Buttons and Goo is that Goo is kind of a dress-up party centered around themes,” Fink said. “We play classic stuff, some ridiculous things, some indie remixes, some hip-hop, even some commercial-type stuff. Goo is the gateway to actual electronic dance music.”

“For Goo, we’ll play whatever it takes to make a great moment, even it’s the theme song from Team America or MC Hammer,” Thiele said. “We kind of live to see who can play the craziest shit sometimes.”

“Depressed Buttons is more of an artistic expression,” Fink said. “We listen to hundreds of thousands of electronic producers and come up with the best things on the planet (according to us) and share that vision and sound.”

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And though this is getting rather long in the tooth, there’s still more with The Faint that I couldn’t get to in this column or Pt. 1:

What do you think of the Loom concept?

Fink: I think Loom is great. I think Brent (Crampton, one of the founders of Loom) really is good for Omaha, bringing people together, creating awareness for art and music, cultural diversity issues, I think it’s cool that he has a hub at House of Loom to host all this kind of stuff. We’ll see how it is as a dance club. I’ve really only been dancing there once so far. It’s kind of weird to me because it’s a bar, but I think we can turn it into more of a club feel.

With The Faint on hiatus, how do you guys make a living?

Fink: I married a successful musician (Orenda Fink, whose projects have included numerous solo records, O+S, Art in Manila and, of course, Azure Ray), so I’m kind of really lucky in that way. We’re doing fine, but at the same time, we’re living in a house that I bought from a friend 12 years ago and really don’t have much mortgage to pay.

We make a pretty decent living going around DJing; it pays well. It’s on par with what we made with The Faint, which was not much. We never made much money because we bought that building, and then the studio.

So Todd, how did  you end up back in Omaha after moving so many times?

Fink: The last place I lived was Athens, Georgia. I like it there, and it’s no secret that it’s great. We looked at houses there, but all the good places in town are expensive. You don’t get much at all. A tiny house (in Athens) costs twice what it costs here. And we’ve bought enough houses to where we’re really picky. We really want the location to be right and we want the house to be right. It’s prohibitively expensive to get everything you want in Athens. Orenda wanted to move back, and the master plan was to live in this house and never worry about money, and we could leave during the winter and enjoy the summers here.

That’s it for now. If you missed Pt. one of the interview, check it out here. To find out more about Loom, check out their website.

* * *

Tonight at O’Leaver’s, it’s the return of Deleted Scenes. Their latest album, Young People’s Church of the Air, was released Sept. 6 on Sockets Records and already has garnered a 7.8 rating at Pitchfork (right here). The band describes itself as “something like the Dismemberment Plan playing under water.” With their dreamcore arrangements and heavy use of delay throughout the recording, I’m more apt to compare their sound to Beach House. Check out their latest video (produced by Love Drunk) and decide for yourself. Also on the bill is Betsy Wells and The Benningtons. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Column 340: Todd Fink on the future of The Faint and the rise of Depressed Buttons; Bon Iver tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:33 pm September 8, 2011
Depressed Buttons, from left, Jacob Thiele, Todd Fink, Clark Baechle.

Depressed Buttons, from left, Jacob Thiele, Todd Fink and Clark Baechle.

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.

* * *

Bon Iver, whose self-titled album (4AD/Jagjaguwar) received a whopping 9.5 by Pitchfork, and which now sits at No. 14 on the CMJ Radio 200 list, plays tonight at Stir Concert Cove. Tickets are still available at $35 a pop. Opening is Canadian alt-country singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards (MapleMusic). Show starts at 8 p.m.

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.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

The Faint’s Depressed Buttons…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 5:38 pm April 27, 2010

Like everyone else, I like to keep up on the weekend party plans in San Francisco, which is how I stumbled upon this item about members of The Faint’s new “Euro-friendly DJ/production team” called Depressed Buttons. According to the SF Weekly blog, the team consists of Clark Baechle, Todd Fink and Jacob Thiele, who they refer to as “the three Omaha-based bandmates” — though last I heard, Todd and Orenda still lived in El Lay. The writer goes on to say they’ve “upped the distorted synths and head-knocking dance beats of their previous gig, The Faint.” Previous gig? So who’s that playing at the MAHA Festival this year? “There isn’t much music to hear from the act online, but we’d wager Depressed Buttons bring it like The Faint conducting a rave.” Hmmm… where did I leave those glow-sticks…

* * *

Tomorrow: Jeremy Messersmith…

Lazy-i