Rock Candy Interview: Todd Fink of The Faint talks ‘Danse Macabre’ and getting the band back together

The Faint will play ‘Danse Macabre’ in its entirety at a homecoming show for Clark Baechle, Dapose, Jacob Thiele and Todd Fink on Dec. 14 at Sokol Auditorium. Get tickets here. (Photo by Bill Sitzmann)

A few years ago, fans found out The Faint was no more.

The band’s admirers were sad. No more dark thrash dance tunes to rock out to, unless you replayed the Omaha band’s records.

Members of the band wanted to take a break after self-releasing “Fasciinatiion” and bassist Joel Petersen moved away. Petersen asked that his bandmates wouldn’t continue making music as The Faint. The obliged.

In the intervening years, guitarist Dapose worked on various projects and Todd Fink, Clark Baechle and Jacob Thiele made music as electronic trio Depressed Buttons.

Then in April, The Faint posted a photo on Facebook of the band practicing in its recording studio, Enamel. Fans got excited and they followed with the announcement of shows in Omaha, Des Moines and a headlining spot at the FYF festival.

Then the band announced it would be remastering and re-releasing its album, “Danse Macabre,” on Saddle Creek Records. It dropped recently with all kinds of goodies including videos, live footage and some never-before-released tunes.

The band is on tour playing “Danse Macabre,” one of Saddle Creek’s best-selling records, in its entirety, and recently released its first new music since 2008.

We caught up with Fink while the band stopped in Arkadelphia, Ark., where Fink and the band were stopped at a motel (Fink was making a gingerbread house) while The faint was on its way to Nashville.

Q. How has this tour been going?

A. Really good. Very good. I don’t know if we feel rejuvenated from taking time off or the crowds are really good. It’s been amazing.

Q. What did it take for The Faint to come back from being broken up or on hiatus?

A. I don’t think we ever planned on it being a band breakup, but obviously when people say their band is on hiatus, a lot of times means it’s over.

I guess we just waited until we were coming back to each other saying, “I think it’s time.”

I had moved back from out of town. I had lived in California and Georgia for a couple few years during that time. Once I came back, I guess it became time. It just felt like doing it again.

I think before when we took the break, we were just exhausted of doing that cycle.

It’s not like we got tired of doing that stuff, but it came time to write a new record, and it didn’t feel like we should do it because we were supposed to be a band.

We wanted to wait until it felt right. We feel that again.

Q. People love your live shows. Did getting back onstage have anything to do with coming back together?

A. We were itching to play as a band again, but I think even more than that we were anxious to make music. Playing live is more like a celebration of the music that you’ve worked to make in a way that everyone can agree upon. ‘This is as good as we can do.’ It’s a celebration of that — being finished — every time you play it.

Right now, I think we’re way more interested in making new songs than playing live. We love to play live, but the reason we got back together is to make new music.

Q. You guys historically took a long time to make music, but the just released “Evil Voices” pretty quickly after getting back together again. Has something changed?

A. I don’t know if we’re gonna be as picky about what stuff gets made or what. I think we’re gonna take a different approach — just making sure that it’s about fun and making things instead of waiting and waiting for something amazing to happen and then spending a bunch of time retooling it.

I think now we’re just trying to get back to the point, the way that it was early on, when we were just making things fast and furious.

Q, There’s something to be said about making a record really fast. I know some bands long for the days they cranked out a record in a couple days instead of taking weeks or months to lay everything down.

A. There’s something magical about working fast and I think we’d like to rediscover that. We just recorded some new songs and that came about way faster than anything we’d done in years and years. That might have been too fast. (laughs)

I think it would be good to get out and play like we’re doing now — play the songs before the final version gets recorded. Originally, we were gonna make a couple song EP, get out and play it, and consider that the demos. Then, we’d record the actual version after we see how it goes.

Unfortunately, it’s kinda weird to re-record something once people hear it. Everyone always had the first impression. Even if it’s better, it’s hard to make something better than what was first heard.

Q. Will the songs from “Evil Voices” be a part of a bigger album or will you guys do a series of EPs?

A. I don’t know what we’re gonna do at this point. The songs have developed some by playing them live. We may pluck a song from that EP or two and put it on an album in the future. We may put out a series of EPs and compile it into whatever.

Who knows? Formats could completely change by the time we finish this album.

Q. How much did the band have to do with the “Danse Macabre” re-release?

A. Dapose put a lot of work into that. It all came together really quickly. Zack Nipper (graphic designer at Saddle Creek) worked real hard on it, too. A bunch of people at Saddle Creek, too.

It was really nice to work with Saddle Creek again, actually. It was cool. They were really great to work with. I shouldn’t be surprised or anything, but it had been awhile.

Q. It’s been more than a decade since the album came out.

A. I know, weird. It was 2001, sometime.

Q. Does having that kind of space from the album give you any new perspective on the songs?

A. It’s interesting to have spaced away from it, from all the songs, actually — all The Faint songs — and then come back to them with new perspective, having not thought about the songs or how they really go for awhile. It was interesting to see in relearning to them what I like now about them or what was working about them and why. I could see it from a new perspective after some time away.

Q. I bet you hadn’t played some of those songs in a long time if ever.

A. I don’t think any of us knew if it was gonna be fun to play those songs. There were reasons why we hadn’t played them before, but I’m really happy with how they turned out.

They were all brilliant, I think, if not great. “Violent” might be my favorite to play, and that’s the first time we play this one.

Q. A lot of the songs on that album have dark themes and melodies. Where did that come from?

A. I guess I think that “Danse Macabre” was The Faint becoming conscious that we like minor melodies more than major melodies. In realizing that, we just did a lot of dark melodies and I think even played with how dark they could be.

The point of it wasn’t darkness all the time, but how silly darkness is. That’s an easy point to miss. It’s difficult to be sarcastic in a song. Who can do it but Pavement, right?

Anyway, it’s dark and fun. That’s a real quick version of what I think The Faint goes for.

I don’t think it needs to be dark but that’s our melodic sense. Those are the types of melodies and chords we don’t get tired of as fast. We have more patience for minor melodies.

Q. EDM has become really mainstream since “Danse Macabre” came out and you guys were using a lot of those sounds in your music back then — and even earlier than that. What do you think about that?

A. Yeah. But the electronic death music that I like now and the rest of The Faint guys like in general is not the most poppy commercial mainstream stuff. It’s probably the opposite.

But we definitely have a lot in common. The Faint’s a pop band, basically. I think most people would perceive it that way. But to us, that’s not all it is. Like any musical artist, you want it to be artistic. You want it to make a contribution in some way.

Q. What’s the status of Depressed Buttons right now?

A. We haven’t really been doing it lately. I want to get some more Faint stuff running before we do that. We’re still throwing the party sometimes. I think we have one planned in House of Loom. For now, it’s more of a dance party for underground electronic music.

I am still working on remixes here and there and have some stuff we can put out but I don’t know if we will for a little while.

Q. Have guys been making new Faint music on the road or are you waiting to get back to Omaha?

A. We’re trying to make stuff while we’re on the road. We’re either sleeping, playing, eating or we’re just too drunk to make anything (laughs). Sometimes, I’ll plan on, “I’m gonna make something.” By the time I’m actually sitting down in front of a drum machine or computer or whatever, it’s pass out city. The plan was to make stuff while we’re on tour, but it hasn’t happened that much.

Q. You’re playing Omaha last on this tour. Is it stressful to play in front of friends and family and stuff?

A. Yeah. That’s why we prefer to play Omaha at the end of tour. We don’t want to just be getting our (stuff) together in front of all those people. If it goes really bad, “Ugh. Cringe.”

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