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Broken Spindles: Finding His Voice

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: June 23, 2004

Broken Spindles
w/ The Show Is the Rainbow, The Mariannes
Friday, June 26
9 p.m.
Sokol Underground
13th & Martha

Want more? Check out an Oct. 2002 profile of Broken Spindles where Joel Petersen explains his project's origin and the making of his debut CD.

Two years after releasing his debut on indie label Tiger Style Records, Broken Spindles, a.k.a. Joel Petersen, is back with a follow-up, this time on Saddle Creek Records, the home of his other bands, The Faint and Beep Beep.

Fulfilled/Complete blends the same mechanical Euro-dynamic of his debut but with a newly discovered humanness that comes complete with a voice -- Petersen's own -- a sinister new instrument blended into the tone-ride of electronic doo-dads and live-action musicians armed with strings.

Petersen said his voice grew naturally into the arrangements from the fertile soil of his imagination.

"I was working on a stripped-down portion of the music that ultimately became 'To Die, For Death,'" Petersen said while driving on a freeway about 100 miles outside of Dallas headed to a gig in Denton that evening. "Instead of some melodic lead or bass line, a vocal line popped into my head and I went with it. I completed the whole song in about a day with the lyrics and everything, and said, 'I better not think about this for a few days.' I was comfortable when I came back to it. It felt refreshing to express ideas in words, something I haven't done before."




On 'To Die, for Death,' a low-key, jittery number off the new CD that sounds like a room filled with clocks, Petersen "sings" like U2 guitarist The Edge on 1993 hit "Numb" -- a sort of monotone recitation of words until the he gets to the line, "Ready to die, I'm ready for death," which breaks the chant by rising above his machine-like voice without breaking the beat. He continues the fuzzy monotone on "Fall In and Fall Down," a track that carries a synth line and dance beats that would be at home on the upcoming Faint CD. "Will you fall in, and down on to your knees?" Petersen asks like a robot.

"Most of the lyrics revolve around my overall content-ness in life," he said. "'Fall In and Fall Down,' is about me being comfortable about not believing in organized religion, a decision that, once made, has made me happier in life."

As a whole, Fulfilled/Complete is a more realized recording than Broken Spindle's debut, and much more enjoyable. Petersen has fleshed out his basic recipe of synths and sounds and rhythms and beats, with clearer, more memorable melodies that are only enhanced by his spoken/sung words, while the instrumental tracks are colorful and cinematic (thanks, in part, to the addition of live strings), creating a world of their own filled with static, worried tones.








"I was comfortable when I came back to it. It felt refreshing to express ideas in words."







"'Fall In and Fall Down,' is about me being comfortable about not believing in organized religion, a decision that, once made, has made me happier in life"



Petersen hopes to enhance that strange electronic world on stage, again by using a self-produced video projected on a screen while he and sideman Eric Bemberger, his colleague in Beep Beep, perform and dance like metal marionettes. For the video, Petersen teamed with film maker Steve Berra, a former Omahan best known for his skateboarding ("A high-impact skater -- 50-50 transfers down 12 foot drops," according to and for being married to actress Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers, Starsky & Hutch).

"Steve was able to devote two months of his life to working on this," Petersen said. "He was in charge of the video's main character. All of his stuff was filmed in Los Angeles and then sent to me to edit. I think Steve's work is awesome."

Petersen is in for a busy year. After he finishes the tour in support Fulfilled/Complete, he'll begin preparing for a fall tour with The Faint in support of their new CD, Wet from Birth, slated for release by Saddle Creek Records Sept. 14. Practically at the same time, Petersen's third band, Beep Beep, will be releasing its debut, Business Casual, also on Saddle Creek. That means Petersen will be pulling double-duty when Beep Beep and The Faint tour together throughout the U.S. and Europe.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "On The Faint tours, I've always acted as the responsible one, which is way more draining than just getting up and playing for half an hour. With Beep Beep, I'll be allowed to just play bass and won't be bogged down in the paper work."

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Published in The Omaha Reader June 23, 2004. Copyright 2004 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.