Get light-headed with The Faint and Bright Eyes

Jason LeRoy

Despite naming their newest album Wet From Birth, The Faint appears to be pretty dry in this photo.

Credit: Jason LeRoy

Omaha-based indie dance band The Faint presently find themselves in the spotlight on a few different charges. For one, they record for the increasingly prolific and publicized Saddle Creek label, which is orchestrated by beloved indie troubadour Conor Oberst, better known as Bright Eyes (who was actually in The Faint before he became Bright Eyes).

Additionally, The Faint’s combination of new wave dance-pop with hipster sensibilities and a punk sneer has earned the band many comparisons to the other new wave-influenced bands popular at the moment, such as The Killers.

Their most recent album, Wet From Birth, has garnered the band the best reviews and highest visibility of their career, and has yielded the dance hit, “I Disappear.” Below, Faint frontman Todd Fink (formerly Baechle) chats with the Daily Kent Stater about his sudden marriage, those new wave comparisons, and what really happened when Oberst left the band.

Daily Kent Stater: So what can the fans expect from the shows?

Todd Fink: You mean the Bright Eyes fans? (laughs) Well, we’re both playing. Three of the five of us (in The Faint) are playing with Bright Eyes; I’m not one of them. There are also two string players we’re sharing. It’s been fun having practice with string players for a change. The plan is to split the shows equally. I think Conor should play the encore, though.

Do you have fun at your shows, or is there too much performance anxiety?

There’s no anxiety. The tough part is beforehand, planning it out. Like right now, we’re just trying to get this whole show organized. But then it just kinda starts to happen, and actually playing the show is great. But the planning beforehand is important just so that when we’re out there actually playing, we’re not thinking, “Fuck, we should have changed that.”

What’s the last song you heard that really rocked your ass?

Oh, it was this one song from Bjork’s CD Medulla, called “Where Is The Line?” I just like to listen to that one really loud in my headphones, you know? The first time I heard it, it just blew me away. It’s very futuristic. It’s like, it won’t be dated in fifty years. In some ways, Bjork is kind of a window into the future.

So what about all the media attention suddenly being lavished on Saddle Creek and the whole Omaha scene? Is it the next Seattle? Will Conor end up like Kurt Cobain?

I think it’s a special time here. I mean, I’m really happy for everyone who’s been making good records. It’s been pretty lucky that everybody keeps making good albums. It seems like with each album, people across the country end up liking it, and it puts more emphasis on Omaha.

I guess it seems like there are always some good records being made here. I don’t really understand the outside perspective on this, though. I mean, people could be thinking it’s overhyped or bullshit or something. I don’t know, I think it’s pretty cool.

Are you guys trying to distance yourselves from the whole new wave revival thing since so many bands have popped up and decided to take part in it?

We’ve been trying to not be that ever since (our first album) Blank Wave Arcade. We never have wanted to be a revival act; we don’t see ourselves that way. To use influences that are nostalgic to you, and to mix those with the current decades, is a lot better than trying to bring something back. It’s better to combine things that are old and current into something new. That’s how we’d like to think of it. No sound will be interesting forever, whether there’s a popular consensus or not.

So the bio you wrote for The Faint says that Conor “quit/was kicked out of the band.” So which was it?

Well, the way I remember it is he quit, and then he came back to practice one day and we were like, “Uhh, didn’t you quit?” And that was that.

What would you say is your top priority in life and music?

Well, I just got married a couple of weeks ago. I took my wife’s last name, Fink, because I thought that would be a good thing to do. Yeah, I never thought I’d get married, but it just turned out to be the right thing for me. Surprise! But I don’t think that will alter my musical path too much. Not in the way that people normally think, where when you get married you slow down. That’s not the case at all. My wife is not the Yoko of The Faint. But she does sing on some of the records, so maybe she’s the Linda.

Contact Pop Arts reporter Jason C. LeRoy at [email protected].