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The Faint : Life During Wartime

 
story by tim mcmahan


 

 

Lazy-i: April 9, 2003


The Faint
w/ Les Savy Fav, Schneider TM
Friday, April 11
$10
Sokol Auditorium

13th and Martha
Omaha

More Faint:
Lazy-i -- Aug. 15, 2001-- The band talks upon the release of Danse Macabre.

Lazy-i -- Nov. 4, 1999 -- Back in the salad days, just after Blank-Wave Arcade was released..

 

Omaha electric-punk band The Faint has been playing a couple new songs on their current European tour. Among them, "Take Me to the Hospital," from the new Saddle Creek 50 compilation CD, was given a whole different meaning after the band's April 3 show in Sheffield, U.K.

"The song is kind of like an anthem for being willing to get hurt doing the things you really love doing," said Faint synth player Jacob Thiele. "Dapose can testify to that."

During the second song of their set at Sheffield, guitarist Dapose had an up-close-and-personal experience with frontman Todd Baechle's microphone. In a fit of stage pageantry, Baechle swung the mike and hit Dapose in the face.

"It was bizarre," Thiele said. "There was something dripping off Dapose's face and I said to him, 'I can't believe you're sweating so much.' Then I looked down and noticed he was bleeding. That's when he ran off stage."

Dapose eventually was taken to the hospital, where doctors treated a broken nose. "He's got a little bit of bruising today," Thiele said, the evening after the accidental assault. "His nose looks like a big lump and is a little crooked on the top."




 

 

It's just another wacky story for a band touring Europe during war time. In addition to Todd Baechle, Thiele and Dapose, The Faint is rounded out by Todd's brother, Clark, on drums and bassist Joel Petersen. With two albums of dark, sleek, digitally driven rock -- 1999's Blank-Wave Arcade and 2001's Danse Macabre, both released on Saddle Creek Records -- the Faint have garnered an international reputation as high-style dance-floor stalwarts of 21st century New Wave electronic synth-pop.

The band's most recent European tour began March 25 with shows in Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Holland. Thiele talked via cell phone from London amidst a week of opening dates with U.K. phenoms Placebo, who just released their fourth album, Sleeping with Ghosts, on Astralwerks, the same label that released a new collection of remixes of Danse Macabre songs by artists including Paul Oakenfold, Photek, Medicine and Junior Sanchez.

Thiele said despite the war, the band never thought twice about traveling to Europe for the tour.

"Right now, we'd be freaked out no matter where we were," he said. "There were a lot of people who were freaked out that we were still getting on a plane. We didn't want to cancel the shows. I don't think it's any less safe here than anywhere else."

He said being abroad has provided a whole different point of view on the U.S. war with Iraq.

"You can't say there's anything cool about what's going on," he said, "but it's kind of cool to see it from this perspective. The largest protests in history have happened over here recently, and Tony Blair has ignored them. There's a march on the U.S. Embassy tomorrow. It's good to see how the media and people from a different country are viewing all of this. After our shows, we go back to the hotel and watch the news. You wonder if what we're seeing is getting reported back home."






"There were a lot of people who were freaked out that we were still getting on a plane. I don't think it's any less safe here than anywhere else."


 

 


"We all think we're visual artists."


 

Thiele said while anti-U.S. sentiment exists in Europe, it isn't pervasive. "I've talked to a lot of people, and they're usually surprised that we're so anti-war and don't have anything good to say about it all," he said. "No one's starting any fights or anything, or trying to pick an argument. The situation is about the same as when we were here last November. I've only had one person call me a stupid American, and that's because we bumped into him in a crowd."

The band has voiced its views on war from stage by performing their other new song, "Paranoia Attack."

"It's about paranoia and fear and ignorance that leads to a situation like we have in Iraq right now," Thiele said. "It's also about how the media sort of places those feelings on you, and how they make you paranoid, fear people and ultimately get behind a propaganda-style thing like the American government has been doing."

The song's performance is highlighted with a video prepared as part of The Faint's new multi-media stage show, an endeavor they've been honing to perfection for months. The staging includes two large screens that show two videos perfectly synchronized with the music, along with new "more versatile" lighting effects.

The video shown during "Paranoia Attack" is an assemblage of network newscasters reporting on the war with defiant facial expressions superimposed with Todd Baechle's mouth to give the illusion that they're actually singing the song. Another image is a small, animated film created by Thiele based on an advertisement he saw in a Holland alternative newspaper. "The center spread showed drops of oil and a Pac Man with an American flag inside of it. He's gobbling all the oil drops, leaving behind a trail of small white crosses. I turned that into an animation."

Thiele said everyone in the band was involved in creating images for the videos. "We all think we're visual artists," he said. "We edited the film, animated it, did whatever we know how to do. This is our first effort -- the foot in the door -- and something we've wanted to do for a long time. It's such a huge undertaking. We couldn't have imagined how much time it was going to take to put together.

Unfortunately, the band hasn't been able to show the videos at their European dates with Placebo. "There's so much shit on stage that there's nowhere to put the screens," Thiele said.

He said the full multi-media presentation would be shown at the April 11 Sokol Auditorium show, the kick-off of their U.S. tour that runs through mid-May. The Sokol's large stage actually provides a different sort of challenge. Thiele says they'll get it figured out. "These days our sound checks with the video stuff lasts five hours," he said, laughing. "I haven't even had a chance to eat anything today. It keeps us pretty busy."


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Portions published in The Omaha Weekly-Reader April 9, 2003. Copyright 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.