If idle hands are indeed the devil's plaything, then The Faint may well be sipping magma with the worst of them before all of this is over. Born of Omaha's Saddle Creek scene which inexplicably produces some of the most dynamic melodic shock this side of the '80s The Faint's over-the-top kineticism is nothing short of a post-punk, post-goth revolution, one perfectly timed with the dance-floor leanings of the recent indie-rock lipstick embellishment. Throw out the jeans, bring on the plastic.
"I was acting indifferent at the merch booth, putting on makeup," crows singer Todd Baechle on "Desperate Guys," the opening track from their latest offering, Wet From Birth. And the sly pumping doesn't end there. Styles ranging from Moroder-lush to fuck-you punk punch up the proceedings, leaving nary a dark stone unturned, if not often reminding you of what might happen if your little brother discovered your Joy Division collection. It's utilitarian, it's revisionism and it's perfect.
To its fortune (or maybe not) The Faint has been lumped in with the current electro-craze, which has been spun from its last failed incarnation: electroclash. Here, bands like The Killers and Scissor Sisters are wearing their New Order and Duran Duran buttons on their torn sleeves, swearing allegiance to a time past, while taking the piss out of the present. And if it seems a little formulaic, well, it isn't. At least not in The Faint's case.
"I think more than anything, we want to be unique," says keyboardist Jacob Thiele on the phone from a tour stop in Chicago. And unique they are, reportedly going as far as to utilize the bone of a monkey's penis percussively during the recording of Wet From Birth. While such absurd machinations may seem a gimmick of ridiculous indulgence, actually speaking to a member of any of the Nebraska front typically reveals otherwise. There's a real mumbling humility there that in no way betrays the in-your-face product that is being promoted.
The disparity between music and member is indeed frightening. It's as if they just happened upon a sound and it was, like, no big deal. But looks (and sounds) can be deceiving. Widely hailed as an intense live act, The Faint are no posturing pretenders when it comes to pushing the visceral live experience.
"I read one review that said that we had too much going on onstage, and I couldn't really disagree," says Thiele. "I mean, with lights and video and everything else, it can be too much."
When it came time to record the follow-up to their buzz breakthrough, Danse Macabre, The Faint veered away from manicured electronica and incorporated live drums and more organic sounds (like monkey penises) into their signature frenzy. The result comes off a bit like a battle between man and machine, a futuristic fight to the death.
"It's kind of like a tag-team wrestling match," says Thiele. "We were pretty tired of the Stratocaster through twin Fender amps, that same guitar tone and derivative style."