Faint : Life During Wartime
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: April 9, 2003
w/ Les Savy Fav, Schneider TM
Friday, April 11
13th and Martha
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.
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
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."
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
Thiele said despite the
war, the band never thought twice about traveling to Europe for
"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
"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
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."
all think we're visual artists."
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
"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."
Portions published in The Omaha Weekly-Reader April 9, 2003. Copyright
© 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.