“Hello… this is Josh with Kaffeine Buzz. Am I speaking with Jacob?” “Yeah, hey can I call you back?” “Sure! Talk to you in a bit.” “Hey this is Jacob, is this Josh?” “Yeah, hey I have a call. Can I put you on hold and disconnect with them really quick?” “Sure, actually why don’t you call me back on this number XXX-XXX-XXXX. I have a bad connection.” “Ok, sure, call you right back.”
So went the first couple minutes of my interview with Jacob Thiele of The Faint. But being the professionals we are, we made the best of a bad phone situation and this is what happened:
KB: So, your album Fasciinatiion is coming out on August 5. Those of us who have been to shows have heard some early versions of the songs. How similar are the studio versions to the live versions we’ve all heard?
JT: For the most part they’re pretty much the same. “A Battle Hymn for Children” changed the most. Because we got to play a lot of them live we were able to see where we needed to make adjustments.
KB: That’s a nice way to test out a song.
JT: Yeah, the melodies are all pretty much the same but playing them at shows allowed us to make little tweaks to them.
KB: So, how does this one compare to previous albums?
JT: Well, it’s kind of an amalgamation of all the previous albums. We took a lot of the styles and sounds of the other albums and built it from there. Like some of the earlier ones, we mainly put it together in a basement. It’s kind of nice recording that way, but we’ve realized there are shortcomings to recording with that method. Wet from Birth differed because we built each song; in the studio and stuff. Lots of times we would come up with an idea for something, let’s say a bass line, and we’d all sit down with a bass and go to our corners and see who would come up with the best bass line. Then we’d give it to whoever could do the most with it. Like we know Clark is the best programmer, and certain bass lines only Dapose can play, and I’m the guy for synths.
KB: Sort of like a survival of the fittest concept?
JT: Well not quite that tough, sort of though. But this album is kind of like taking all of those experiences and blending them together.
KB: On that note, which album, would you say, was the most challenging?
JT: Well, I guess this one in a way. We would play songs from the album but it was frustrating because we knew it would be like 4 or 5 months till it came out.
KB: You guys have released the first single from the album, “The Geeks Were Right.” Now I’m curious; were the geeks actually right?
JT: Heh. Hmmm. Yeah I guess so. I guess we were hoping the geeks were right. The whole idea for this song kind of came from this dream, or vision, that Todd had for the future and science. He’s really into science and technology, and gets really excited thinking about where it will take civilization. This song is about those smart, geeky guys actually doing something to further that. It’s funny; I went to my high school reunion, my 10 year reunion, for some reason. I guess because I don’t really have anything to be ashamed of and it was interesting to see what happened to everyone. The “cool kids”, the jocks and those guys, were just working the same jobs they were since high school, while the geeks were actually doing really interesting things with their lives. They were proving that the geeks were right by doing things to better the world.
KB: So, do you guys consider yourselves geeks?
JT: Yeah, I think we’re all geeks. Todd, of course, “geeks out” on science and that kind of stuff. Joel “geeks out” on compressors and Clark “geeks out” on music software; then he teaches that stuff to Todd. It’s funny though, we actually used a lot of 70’s and 80’s synths on that track; even used a Commodore 64 on it.
JT: Yeah. We had this quote posted on the board while we were recording. God, what was it?! Something about the old future. You know like how the future was predicted to be. The way 1985 was supposed to be. We were comparing it to the new future; the way it actually happened. I think the new future is where it’s at.
KB: So I’m curious. What are some of the influences or bands that you guys draw from?
JT: Well, when I joined the band, I know I was really into the Urgh! A Music War stuff. Bands like Devo, Gang of Four. Hmmm, New order as they were coming out of Joy Division, old Human League, Vince Clarke, Depeche Mode; all those bands. More recently I’ve been really into Mr. Oizo. He just writes this stuff that’s really strange and interesting. It helps to hear his music when I feel like I’m in a rut, helps me get out of it. I really like the oblique strategies. Heh, the way the French say it, they call him Mr. Wazoo.
KB: Haha, those French!
JT: Oh yeah, and Sebastian. He’s been doing some really cool stuff. Actually there’s a lot of interesting music and art I’ve been noticing in the last five years or so. It’s interesting the way art and music fight the backwards-thinking, conservative minds in office. It seems to happen every so often, when we have a president like that in office.
KB: True… true. I notice you guys are releasing Fasciinatiion on Blank.Wav Records. What prompted the creation of Blank.Wav?
JT: Well, I guess we just kind of wanted to do our own thing; do everything for ourselves. We met with Saddle Creek and some other labels and told them we really wanted to do our own thing. We just felt like everything is heading towards digital sales; something like 50% of all sales will be digital by Christmas, so we felt like the time is now. So many artists are doing that and have been successful, and it just seemed logical. Of course, we know there will always be those people who find it for free somewhere. I’m not sure where they get it, but digital is big. Last I checked it’s not available as a free download somewhere, but I haven’t checked today yet (haha).
KB: Yeah, I know those guys and I’m sure they’ll find a way.
JT: Heh. Yeah, me too. I’m not mad at those guys. We spent all of our money, and then some, paying to put this album out. But if they feel like they deserve the music without paying for it…
KB: So have all the ties to Saddle Creek been severed?
JT: Well, things are undefined with Saddle Creek right now. We’re still cool with those guys and still hang out with some of them. They still have all of the previous albums, but things are kind of up in the air. We just felt like we could do what we want with Blank.Wav. Maybe we’ll sign some bands in the future.
Fasciinatiion will be out Tuesday, August 5 on Blank.Wav Records. If you know what’s good for you, you can also catch them live at the Ogden Theatre on July 29, 2008