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‘Sorting through fun archives of weird, old shit’ with The Faint at The Regency Ballroom

Photos by Mike Frash // Written by Molly Kish //

“We’ve been bringing terrible weather with us wherever we go,” commented The Faint‘s tour manager Danny as I approached him outside The Regency Ballroom this past Saturday night.

While I usually arrive to an empty venue, hours before the doors open to the public, I found myself amongst a crowd of dedicated and very damp fans. Superfan make-up was running, coffees were in hand and the die-hards were willing to brave the autumn showers in order to be the first attendees in the venue for the only Bay Area stop on The Faint’s 10-year anniversary of their Danse Macabre tour.

I usually conduct interviews at this venue in one of the tiny upstairs green rooms, competing with the background noise of the opening band’s sound check. Danny suggested a much more intimate environment for the night’s conversation, however, and he extended an invitation to conduct the interview on the band’s tour bus. This was ideal for me, not only for the aesthetic principles of sound quality and context, but something as a fan I could have never anticipated having the opportunity to do.

While on board waiting for guitarist Dapose to join us, drummer Clark Baechle and Danny made sure I was comfortable, engaging in small talk about the tour and offered me a hard cider, the band’s current tour libation of choice. Taking initiative to create such a relaxed setting for us to carry out our conversation was such an unexpected surprise. Once Dapose arrived, the setup provided for a laughter-filled and character-revealing interview with The Faint.


Showbams: As opposed to both Media and Blank Wave Arcade, Danse Macabre focused on less guitar driven songs and more on synth, keyboard and vocally arranged dance tracks. Halfway through it’s completion, Dapose came on board having a background playing bass in the death metal band LEAD. What made you guys want to take the electronic route?

Baechle: Well, that was the idea for the album from the get-go. Blank Wave Arcade was right when we first started trying out things on keyboards, and we thought you could make a lot more sounds with keyboards and synthesizers than just a guitar. That was really interesting to us. Blank Wave Arcade was kind of just rawer; we introduced it as a rock band kind of, whereas the next one we really wanted to see if we could make some dance-y tracks, now that we were into keyboards and stuff.

Dapose: Blank Wave was also kind of written for house parties, literally like basement parties and small clubs. With Danse Macabre, we were actually planning on playing real venues with an actual PA and we were like, “Let’s really get a dance party going!” You know whereas before, we were only getting house parties going (laughs).

Showbams: I know Dapose that you initially came on to help out more with the video projections the band used in live performances and on the artistic level. Did you ever expect or anticipate playing in such a heavily electronic-fueled band?

Dapose: Not as a child or anything (laughs), but no, I don’t know? I’ve always liked a lot of different kinds of music and being into death metal in my teen angst years, I was really interested in the energy of it most. It’s very intense and maybe at times a little too much, but I think this band has a similar level of intensity. Some of it’s in creating tension and reserving, or just going really for it with the high energy dance tracks. The striking qualities of the music that they were doing before I was in the band definitely interested me. It’s something I still look for in other bands.

Showbams: After releasing four consecutive albums on Saddlecreek, really solidifying your name as a staple on the label and bringing its content to the next level, why did you choose to split off? What was behind the decision to release Fasciinatiion on your own label, Blank.Wav?

Baechle: Really, the industry was changing. Even with Saddlecreek, they would hire an outside publicist, distribution, etc. Everything was separate. We just kind of thought it would be fun to try it on our own. There’s no bad blood. We’ve had a great time working with them on this re-issue, and they’re still good friends of ours.

Showbams: Now, the chicken-and-the-egg question … how did the tour come about? Who asked who, was this tour something you had been wanting to do or was it in support of the release?

Baechle: We’ve been talking about re-mastering that record for a long time. Not because it didn’t sound good, but other people had suggested that maybe we do so, and we were going to re-press it anyways. We literally were out of the physical copies of the old ones, and we thought if we’re going to pay money to make more of this old album …

Dapose: We might as well make it cooler (laughs)! Yeah, we put a bunch of fun stuff in it that was really exciting to do. I help put together all the artwork for it with Zack at Saddlecreek who helped out a lot. I got to go through fun archives of weird, old shit, assemble a collection of images and then we did the same with video content and the DVD, too. Like the projections on the DVD, which are the actual image files that we used while playing live through out that era!

Showbams: I know that beyond the six unreleased tracks from the era of Danse Macabre on the re-issue, you are selling exclusively at the shows the new 12”, featuring the first new music you guys have released in four years. Is this a teaser of new material to come?

Dapose: We’re definitely doing more music, whether or not it ends up being an album, I don’t think is necessarily our specific goal. Our goal is just creating new music and putting it out.

Baechle: Yeah, albums … I feel like things are changing again. No one even listens to full albums, and it takes us so long to even make one. So we thought, “Let’s just make music and these four tracks.” We’re like, “Let’s just put it out!” It’ll be fun to have something new to play and have something for this tour. They’re also the first tracks we’ve made in a long time, and they’re kind of all over the place. It was fun for us to do whatever we wanted, not thinking it has to be a follow-up album. Just see what happens and release whatever we make. We like them all, and we think they’re cool.

Dapose: As far as like, listening to it thinking, “Boy, this is what their next album is going to be like,” you wouldn’t have any good direction of what that would be (laughs). I mean, there’s some fun stuff on there.

Showbams: I know you guys are choosing to make it a tour exclusive for the time being, but are you planning on further disseminating it after the tour?

Baechle: I think the actual 12” that we made of it, we’re planning on keeping it tour exclusive for a while. We’ve already put one of them online as a digital download. As far as the other ones, I don’t really know. I assume that if people start ripping horrible samples of them and putting them on the Internet, I’m sure we’ll want to put the real ones out there. But the actual product, the physical vinyl we’re going to keep as a tour only thing.

Showbams: In the past few years, fans have seen your music pop up in different ways, with your song on Guitar Hero for the iPhone and on Yo Gabba Gabba with a slew of other performers. What was the motivation behind being part of these projects?

Baechle: Those ones we were asked if we wanted to do it, and we were like, “Yeah, that sounds fun!”

Dapose: We just pick stuff that doesn’t seem like … we almost want to have the opportunity to show a slightly different side of ourselves. We put so much into our albums, our music and the live show, and it doesn’t always represent every side of us.

Baechle: It’s fun to be really lighthearted for a day on the set of Yo Gabba Gabba! It was great. We all had a blast!

Showbams: Currently you’re on tour celebrating Danse Macabre‘s 10-year anniversary, which has really become an album defining the dance-rock genre. How do you in turn feel about the progression of electronic music, and what it has evolved since the release of said album?

Baechle: There’s definitely more and more bands with keyboards, but I think that’s just technology. Keyboards and computers have gotten better and easier to use, and with the means of making electronic music at home, it’s bound to become more prevalent. I think that’s it’s just a natural progression. I like electronic sounds, so there’s a lot of stuff out there I like.

Dapose: I’m really interested in all the different uses of electronic music and dance music. I like hearing people take electronic music that may be used for dance and do totally different things like noise, rock or metal. I love synthesizers, and they’re so dynamic. I used to think only a handful of people have ever put their hands on them. Now, like Clark was saying, more and more people have them and they’re so much more available in the ability to use them interestingly.


Once done speaking with the guys, I stuck around for a bit discussing their upcoming dates, plans for post-tour and gauging their interest in getting back on the festival circuit in 2013. We finished up our drinks in the alley, traded funny stories about previous SF performances and said farewell until the concert.

That night, they played to a packed crowd filled with fans of all ages at The Regency. Fans sang in unison to a greatest hits set that highlighted Danse Macabre‘s extended re-issue track list in full. The ground floor of the venue became absorbed by a sea of pitch-black fans, camouflaged by the absence of house lights, which starkly contrasted the strobe lights and visual effects.

The stage visuals featured abstract projections that timed perfectly with their driving beats, and this made the set feel visually indecipherable. The band was seen through their body outlines and erratic movements from my perspective, adding mystery to their performance.

Beyond their quintessential dance-rock album, the band played a melange of hits, keeping the energy upbeat as the crowd belted out lyrics in unison with frontman Todd Fink. Instead of the usual banter between songs, the band played continuously throughout the evening, hammering out their catalog to an audience that didn’t need explanations.

Staying true to form on every song, The Faint played as though they were playing songs for the first time. Their intention behind remastering Danse Macabre seemed to be so they could present it in an actual venue to catalyze a dance party. If this was the intention, this was achieved at this show at The Regency.

Resuscitating one of the most noted genre-defining albums of an era and bringing it to the live stage could be a daunting task for many. For The Faint though, the challenge was easily met and annihilated.

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Comments

  1. Looking forward to their new release.
    Great interview

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