The Faint's Todd Fink on Danse Macabre: "We Wanted People to Either Love It or Hate It."
The Faint will makes its triumphant return to Phoenix next week, following a two-year hiatus.
This isn't just any show: The band is playing its landmark synth-punk record Danse Macabre in its entirety. The concert will include a few new songs as well as fan favorites, so you will get your fill of "Glass Danse," "Agenda Suicide," "I Disappear," "Desperate Guys," and "Worked Up So Sexual" all in the same night.
We recently caught up with frontman Todd Fink to discuss the band's decision to tour on Danse Macabre, what Fink listened to while he was working on the album, and why The Faint made itself a polarizing band.
Up on the Sun: Of all the albums you could play, why did you go with Danse Macabre?
Todd Fink: I feel like a lot of people heard us first on that record. A lot of those songs are songs that we already play or have played since we made them in the first place. We just have to learn a few songs that we never play to do that record, it sounded like a fun thing to do. I think the label wanted to do a new version...re-press the record, so we went to have it remastered and did the whole deluxe package for it. We thought sure, let's play the record.
As a follow up question, why release it now? Were you aiming for a 10 year anniversary tour?
[Laughs.] We've been on this hiatus for a little while, we just took a couple years off. We're just coming back to it, we wanted to go out on tour also to get back in the swing of things, it seemed like a fun way to do it.
Have you guys been working on any new material?
Yeah, we just recorded some new stuff before we left. We're working on stuff while we're on tour as well. We should have the 12-inches that we just recorded by the time we get to Phoenix.
Do you guys play some of that stuff live?
Yeah, we recorded four new songs and one of them is kind of an instrumental jam. It isn't a song so much, it's just a bunch of circuits. But the other three, we're playing two of them. The third one we know how to play, but it's not quite right yet, so we're working on it at sound checks and stuff.
How is your live set arranged? Do you play Danse Macabre all together, or do you break it up?
Yeah, we're going to play it all at once, but not right at the beginning. I think we're going to play a handful of songs first to get warmed up and then play it.
I want to hear a little bit about the songwriting process of this album- what inspired you? What were you listening to at the time?
I remember...that was about the time that I met Dapose, who joined the band in the middle of that record on guitar. I remember driving around town when I first met him listening to dancehall reggae and death metal. Pretty much thinking, "This is kind of a strange thing pair of things to be into right now." But yeah, that's what I remember being into at the time.
How did you guys meet?
I don't remember how exactly. I think we just kind of knew each other and just started hanging out more. He was hanging around, he helped out with the artwork of the band originally just because we wanted to concentrate on the music at the time. He was good at guitar, he's great at guitar, so we ended up using him a lot.
How do you feel about Danse Macabre today?
I'm still happy with it, and that's pretty much all I can really hope for. There's things about it that I would have changed, or wouldn't have done the same today, of course.
Omaha seems to have a very tight knit music community. How did living there define your sound?
I think that what we got from the bands in Omaha is not direct musical inspiration but just more...we also wanted to be unique like they were. So we don't sound the same, but we wanted to have a style of music that only we could do, that only this particular combination of people would make. We wanted to find what we had in common and do that, even if that wasn't what people wanted to hear or what people expected.
Did you guys have any challenges finding a niche or reaching audiences when you first started out?
When things changed for us and when we started to figure out what it was we were trying to do, I think it was probably at the same point where we decided we wanted to be polarizing, I guess. We wanted people to either love it or hate it. I think that that attitude gave us the freedom to just go all the way when we felt like it without being scared because you accept that people are going to hate it. In my mind, that gave us the freedom to really explore. It turns out the people that hate your music aren't around as much.I saw you guys a couple months ago at FYF in Los Angeles. How did you end up being a last-minute headliner?
It was just lucky, I guess. The had booked the schedule and I guess they decided they wanted something like us, or maybe...I don't know how it happened, but we were really excited to have such a great spot on a festival coming back from our couple years off. It was a really good way to get back into it.
The response to you guys was insane. How would you say your performance at FYF compares to your typical show- is there the same amount of spectacle?
I think so. We don't usually play outside, but otherwise, it felt like...and it was more people than are usually at our shows, but aside from that, it felt about the same. It was awesome. We don't like to play outside because we have to play during the day, but if we get to play at night, it's pretty cool.
You're going to be doing Danse Macabre for a couple of months. Have you considered adding some more dates or maybe playing another album in full?
It's fun to play this record, I think it would be fun to play Blank-Wave Arcade as well. We'll probably do that some day, maybe another one, I don't know. Usually we don't do this kind of stuff because we're promoting some other record that we just made, that's why we're out on tour playing it for people and right now, we're coming from this break and making new songs. They're not out yet, so we're just not sure, it makes sense to do it, it could happen again.
As far as the new stuff is concerned, are you going to stick with 12-inches, or do you plan on releasing a full-length album?
These are early versions of the songs, I think we're planning on putting these songs or picking songs from this 12-inch or maybe others to put on a record at some point. We'll probably develop them more by the time we put them on a record. We haven't really talked about how we're going to do it, we just wanted to make something before we went out on tour playing an old record. We wanted to feel like a current, active band, not one that's just coming back to play an old record. We just recorded it wherever we were at with the songs we just started.
What did motivate you guys to start playing again?
We just needed a break. We've just been doing the cycle of making a record and touring on it for too long, we just had to get away from it. It became time to do it again. I've been moving around a little too, and now I'm back in Omaha, so that probably was part of the reason. We weren't all together in the same place until recently.
That's cool, you didn't get too far away from your home.
Yeah, actually I'm living in the house that we all lived in when we made Danse Macabre. It's fixed up more, it's gone through a lot of changes since then, but yeah, same house.
The Faint is scheduled to perform Friday, November 23, at Crescent Ballroom.
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