It's been a long time coming. Three years ago, before we cared about politics or terrorists, or even dance music, a little-known band from Omaha, Nebraska quietly put out a record that suddenly got people out of their seats and moving. It was Danse Macabre, the sucker punch that came after their 1999 transitional Blank Wave Arcade, which gave The Faint national attention. A dark meshing of synth dance beats, gothic fixation and punk noise, Danse Macabre was released a mere three weeks before September 11, and it record ushered in the dance-punk craze, hinting at the electro-clash movement that came to define indie rock in the years to come. At long last, more than three years later, The Faint has followed up with Wet from Birth, a further diversion from their essentially inde-rock debut, 1998's Media. Jacob Thiele, the band's electronic force, sat down with us to talk about Omaha, the genesis of Wet from Birth, and raccoon penises.
Prefix Magazine: Can you talk about how the band started and how you all met? You guys have been together for about ten years now, right?
The Faint: Well, in some form or another. Clark and Todd [Baechle] are brothers, and they used to skateboard with Joel [Peterson, bass]. You can't skateboard all the time in Omaha, so they started playing music at some point, and that was like ten years ago. I joined the band in 1998 or 1999 and Dapose [guitars] joined in 2000. That's the lineup. PM: And you do synthesizers?
The Faint: Yep. PM: Didn't Conor Oberst used to be in the band?
The Faint: Yeah, that was before it was the Faint, back when they just started playing, before I was in the band and everything. PM: Did they play under a different name back then?
The Faint: It was Norman Bailor for a while, it was like ten different incarnations of Norman Bailor, and so there have been a lot of different people who have played with the three core members, Clark and Joel and Todd. PM: Have any of those people gone to form anything else out of Omaha?
The Faint: Yeah, a lot of them have been in several bands, a lot of bands that did things and a lot of bands that didn't do things. I guess the most notable would be Conor. PM: Did you record on Media?
The Faint: I didn't, no; the first record that I did with them was Blank Wave Arcade. PM: There was a complete shift in sound between those two records, and that probably has a lot to do with your addition to the band.
The Faint: Yeah, and the reason that I joined the band was because they wanted to change it up and start using keyboards and different electronic instruments and techniques. PM: You were living in Omaha back then?
The Faint: Most of us have lived in Omaha all our lives. Bob and Joel were born in elsewhere but we all pretty much grew up here. PM: How long have you been playing synthesizers and electronic music?
The Faint: I started fucking around with that kind of stuff probably not more than a year before I started talking to Todd about playing in the Faint. I have pretty limited musical knowledge so I just kinda learned how to do the programming and stuff on computers. PM: Were you a big fan of new-wave music in the '80s, like the Human League and all that?
The Faint: I was then. My favorite Human League album came out before I was born, so I didn't really get into at the time. I got into it like twenty years later. PM: Do you consider your main influences rooted in '90s rock or new wave? Both?
The Faint: It's both. Some stuff that we missed out on the first time around, we went back and thought it was pretty interesting, especially late-'70s, early-'80s stuff. The stuff we listened to in high school and college when we decided to start bands was obviously a big influence on us, too. The biggest influence on us was our friends in Omaha who had started bands before we did.