An Interview With Todd Fink of The Faint
Tabloid magazines are made in hell. Luckily, music blogs are not. Well…some of them anyway.
I recently had the pleasure of getting some interview questions to electronic indie dance punks, The Faint. The Omaha, Nebraska band recently released their fifth full length record, Fasciinatiion (spelled with four i’s, fyi) on their own new label, blank.wav. They are currently supporting the new album with a headlining world tour.
Lead singer Todd Fink, as he admits at the end of this interview, cannot type. So, he sent me an audio recording of his answers. Through-out the clip, there is a soundcheck being conducted in the background, which he mentions periodically as it disrupts his thought process. However, he still managed to answer all questions gracefully and with plenty of detail, going into the stink of his on-stage lab coat and the theoretical significance of long beards (among other *fascinating tidbits).
This is also the first interview ever featured on My Poproks! Hope you enjoy.
What made you guys decide to start up blank.wav?
I guess it just seemed like something we always meant to do and wanted to do. The time was right with digital sounds. I mean, we still had to make vinyl and cds and all that. I think the time for us, it just works, because we can get distribution – we’ve got enough of a name to get distribution – and what a label does can be done. Anyway, we tend to take as much control of our band as we can. No good reason. It just made sense.
Do you have any plans of signing other bands to your label?
Yes. Well, no plans yet. We’d like to at some point. If we can get the loan from this project paid off, and feel like we can continue as a band without having to get jobs, ya know…definitely. We’d like to. We talk about bands we’d like to do something with, and I think we’d like to put our side projects out and that kind of thing as well, and friends’ bands…and maybe bands that we’ve toured with that would consider being on the label. I dunno, yea. We’d like to someday.
This is the first record that you guys have done pretty much entirely on your own. What did you feel you got to do differently from your previous records?
[drum soundcheck starts in the background] Oh gosh, they got the soundcheck goin’. Well I’m gonna keep going. i guess we got to decide when we wanted to start over. If a song wasn’t going in a good direction, we could just throw it away and start a new session…try it again. And that’s something that would be too annoying to someone that was actually engineering with us. We’d feel guilty for doing that, so that’s what we did this time. And we did have time limitations, but at least they were…[drums get louder]. This is hard to talk when the sound is going but…[keyboard soundcheck starts] I think in the future, you’re gonna see the music change some, because we can record one song at a time, instead of waiting for the whole thing – a whole album – to be ready to record
How was recording in the ENAMEL, and how was it different from your previous recording space (which I hear was filled with broken washing machines?)? Oh, and what is the ENAMEL?
It was way different. Recording…i mean, where we’ve recorded before is much, much different. We got to make ENAMEL exactly what we wanted. We picked the paint, we picked the fabric, the wood, the furniture. Everything is just made for all of us to be comfortable in. It’s just nice. We love to be there. I think it’s important to record in an environment you’re comfortable in. It doesn’t have to be nice like this, but it sure makes it sound better. I guess we chose the name ENAMEL as kind of a…it’s a coating you can put on anything…that finishes it; protects it. You can also polish it to…I dunno. No great reason. We have a lot of dental x-rays. We have a stack of ‘em that we’re making curtains out of for the front of it. Maybe it came out of that, self-consciously.
My favorite track off of Fascination is probably “Fish in a Womb.” What’s yours?
I would say…oop you spelled “fascination” wrong, first of all! There’s four i’s! I guess we’re gonna insist on it now cause it’s written on the front of the record. The reason that that happened is just my “i” key was stuck on my computer and that was the name of the demo folder…it just stuck. What’s my favorite song? I like “Machine in the Ghost” a lot. I was excited about that one most probably in the recording process. But it’s also probably ’cause it’s the newest one. I dunno. I do like that one.
Who is the white-bearded old man in the ” Geeks Were Right” video?
That was a choice made by Raster Lord, who is a friend of ours who made that video. He did all the post production work [keyboards still going in the background]. We went to a green screen across the alley from our place, and recorded hours of green screen footage. He used some of that, and he added a few other things, so..the bearded old man is unknown, I suppose. But we did talk about having beards…long beards work with this record. It seemed like…they represent wisdom. Not that the record’s wise, but it kind of praises philosophers and thinkers or anybody who’s thinking about where humans are going and what they’re up to…and predicting the futures, learning from the past…that kind of thing. Also, scientists, alchemists…
The first line on the record is “tabloid magazines are made in hell,” and the last is, “is every bomb we drop in God’s name?” Is the message of Fasciinatiion that we are all fucked? Or is there hope?
‘Tabloid magazines are made in hell’…obviously that’s a tongue-in-cheek line, it’s ridiculous. I don’t think they make anything but superstitious suffering in hell, but how would I know? [a keyboard riff strikes up in the background] Ah, you can hear the samples from “Desperate Guys” in the background. Yup, we use samples! Nobody’s playing that on stage when we play. It was hard enough to get it to happen in the recording room. It’s a pretty difficult line. Is there hope? There’s always hope, until you give up on it.
You guys have an incredible energy on stage. What is your favorite song to play live, and can you explain Todd’s goggles (pictured here)?
If I click on that, I dunno. This recording might end, but I know what goggles you’re talking about ’cause I wear them everyday. The only explanation for the goggles and the lab coat I have is that it makes me feel like a time traveler. Pseudo scientific, dorky, sci-fi time traveler. And man, that lab coat is filthy. It stinks so bad. I couldn’t even stand myself on stage last night. We have to hide it away from the rest of the band. Well, from their noses. We tried to wash it in the sink, but it’s not helping. I dunno what I’m gonna do with it. I guess I could get another one, but it wouldn’t…it doesn’t work with the time-traveler theme. The experience of the lab coat is tough on it. I like to see how it degrades. Which…it doesn’t degrade that fast cause its made of synthetic material, mostly.
So, what is The Faint listening to right now? I’ve noticed things like Justice and The Kills on your myspace blog. Give me more! Guilty pleasures are especially welcomed.
Ahh…I don’t…I don’t know. Jacob and I have been DJ’ing a lot under the name Depressed Buttons. We’ve got hundreds and hundreds of songs we like to play, but to name examples? I just don’t know why, I don’t do it much. I can never think of any! Well, why don’t I say…shit I’m trying to look some things up. Guilty pleasures…well I don’t think it should be a guilty pleasure, but a lot of people think that the band Yello is a silly band. Because of their “Oh yeah, chica chicah” son from Ferris Bueller and that stuff. That’s an excellent band. So I would say maybe some people think that sucks. I think it’s pretty cool though. They’ve got a bunch of good songs. Very strange pair, kind of like a…sparks of electronic music, way ahead of their time. I like Boys Noize. We got to work a little with Boys Noize recently. Check – is this thing still on? [snaps] Shit, I hope so. Um, I like the first song on the new Conor Oberst record a lot. Um, Mr. Oizo we’re fans of. The Switch remixes. Yeah, well anyway, I guess that’s it. I hope this file works. I can’t type. Bye.