Welcome to the first egoeccentric interview!
The Faint have been releasing amazing albums for a few years now. Having started as a traditional guitar-rock band (with one Conor Oberst briefly as their frontman), they came into their own with a genre bending twist through 1999's Blank Wave Arcade. The album's blending of dance and techno elements with rock sensibilities saw the band become an underground sensation. 2001's Danse Macabre is a party classic- their sound delving further into electronic territory with fantastic results.
Their 2004 follow up, Wet From Birth further widened the band's scope, and suggested to many listeners that these guys could do no wrong. On top of their amazing recorded output, the Faint have garnered a reputation of being one of the best live acts around (a fact I can personally verify, having caught them touring Wet From Birth in San Diego), and a band that are not afraid to push the boat out in terms of creativity while always delivering the most important thing in music: great songs.
As The Faint prepare to release their much anticipated new album, Fasciinatiion, keyboardist Jacob Thiele takes the time out to answer some of our questions.
Egoeccentric: So how goes things with the new album? Is it pretty much finished or is there lots more to do?
Jacob Thiele: It's pretty much done. The music is done, it's mastered, the album cover is designed. We have to finish the packaging and shoot some press photos. And get some sweet remixes!
E: The band seems to have rapidly evolved from album to album, each one sounding significantly different to its predecessor. Does that trend continue with Fasciinatiion or is it closely related to any of the older records?
J: I personally think it's got similarities to our last three albums. But not in a redundant way.
E: How does Enamel compare to where you recorded Wet From Birth? Did you all move in to write record or was it a very different process?
J: We recorded Wet From Birth with Mike Mogis at Presto Studios in Lincoln. The new record, Fasciinatiion, was recorded at our studio, Enamel, which we built in a 100 year old building that was at one point a mortuary, a printing company, and a church. We recorded it ourselves, which was challenging but fun. I think we learned a lot from the process.
E: When you joined the band was the dance-y direction already a done deal, or was there an element of ‘Well we’ve got the keyboard player… now lets make a DANCE record’?
J: I joined before Blank-Wave Arcade. The band made a conscious decision to incorporate more synths, and I was brought on as a full-time synth player. The sound of that album was inspired by the basement dance parties that played on the tour in which we wrote most of the album.
After that we decided we just liked dancing so we'd go to the gay clubs in Omaha, which were the only places to dance. We wanted to make a record that sounded good in a dance club, and Danse Macabre was what we came up with.
E: You guys don’t seem to be prolific remixers, yet you recently contributed a track to NIN’s remix album. How did that come about?
J: We'd love to do more remixes. We heard they were doing a remix album so we thought we'd offer our services.
E: Is there a particular remix-fiend in the band, or does everyone throw in their two-cents?
J: We all want to do remixes. We collaborated on the NIN one. In the past Clark has been the main brain behind our remixes. He still is in most ways, but we like to offer up ideas while he's composing.
Joel has done quite a few remixes as Broken Spindles.
E: Are remixes something you can see the band doing more of?
J: Absolutely, if we could just find more time to do them!
E: Much has been said in the past about the possibility of The Faint ‘going major’. Is there something in particular that has kept you guys on Saddle Creek?
J: It was a label started by our friends that originally was a co-op. Eventually they made it into a real business that grew with the bands. It definitely was a good place to call home for all our past records. But we're putting out Fasciinatiion on a different label, called blank.wav.
E: That said, have you ever been tempted by the prospect of lots and lots of money?
J: Certainly, but then you realize how it is that they can offer you this money and how it will change your life. It's always too good to be true, in that there's always some kind of catch.
…and some quick ones…
E: What’s your favorite Faint song to play live?
E: What artists are you listening to at the moment?
J: Crystal Castles, MGMT, Boy's Noize
E: What was the last gig you caught which blew you away?
J: Mars Volta in Guadalajara, Mexico.
E: Anything stand out as the best gig you’ve ever been to?
J: Fantomas at Coachella, 2005. I got to stand right behind Dave Lombardo and right in front of Danny DeVito!
T. Raumschmiere at Eurockennes in France, 2005.
Unwound at the Cog Factory, 1998.
Nine Inch Nails at Omaha's Civic Auditorium, 1998.
E: Finally… Any plans to play Ireland on the Fasciinatiion tour?
J: We're keeping our fingers crossed!
Here's a taste of The Faint in action...
The Geeks Were Right from the forthcoming Fasciinatiion:
Click for mp3
Agenda Suicide, from Danse Macabre:
I Disappear, from Wet From Birth:
May 12, 2008