Omaha, Nebraska's the Faint have gone through countless changes in their relatively short career, but with each shift, both in terms of personnel and style, they have made a distinct new impression and turned more and more heads.
Originally called Norman Bailer and featuring current members Clark and Todd Baechle (later he changed his name to Todd Fink, after marrying future Saddle Creek recording artist Orenda Fink of Azure Ray), as well as bassist Joel Petersen, the group's early years were a mix of lo-fi pop and tongue-in-cheek easy listening with a touch of punk rock ideals borrowed from their early skateboarding days. Along with a prepubescent Bright Eyes and a recently formed Cursive, the band was one of the seeds that spawned the explosive Omaha scene as well as a flagship act for the highly regarded Saddle Creek Records.
A very limited cassette release and a few tracks on split 7"s and samplers were the band's only output, but the spark was there, and after adding Matt Bowen to the mix, the Faint proper first came into being around 1998. Media, the group's first full-length, was still a far cry from their later sounds, but the record was a fitting introduction to the band that featured a bevy of conflicting sounds, from new wave-inspired pop to Lullaby for the Working Class-style acoustic dirges. It wasn't the perfect record, but it was an inspired start that gave the Faint a good idea of what they were, and more importantly were not, striving for. In the wake of Media, the band set out to add something special to its live show, and in the course of the year, Bowen left the band and Jacob Thiele joined up to add the all-too-important keyboard sounds into the mix.
Early 1999 saw the band reenter the studio with a new agenda, focusing on danceable beats, catchy keyboards, and an '80s-influenced sound that both revered and reinvented the past. The result was Blank-Wave Arcade, a pulsating record about sexuality, transportation, and mass consumption that instantly attracted hordes of new fans who were blown away by the group's distinctive new sound. The new material, along with a seizure-inducing D.I.Y. live light show and incorrigible on-stage energy, created a major buzz, and soon the Faint were revered as the second coming of new wave genius. A series of remixes on both a limited-edition LP and a tour to support a CD from Insound furthered the hype, and by the time the Faint entered the studio yet again in early 2001, the buzz had grown to a resounding roar.
In August of 2001, the group released its third LP, Danse Macabre, a somewhat darker exploration of the styles hinted at on Blank-Wave Arcade. They also added a guitarist by the name of Dapose (born Mike Dappen), whose death metal past worked perfectly with the gloomy, but still oddly upbeat, sentiments of the new record. The disc was released to instant acclaim and almost immediately became one of the label's best-selling titles. The band followed it up with even more touring and also found the time to release the Mote/Dust 12" on the GSL label in October of 2001, featuring two more remixes, a Sonic Youth cover, and a new track featuring Bright Eyes songsmith Conor Oberst.
The Faint were all quiet on the recording front until March of 2003, when they released an album of remixes from Danse Macabre called, strangely enough, Danse Macabre Remixes. The disc featured remixes by artists like Paul Oakenfold, Photek, and Medicine. They followed this up with Wet from Birth, which was released in fall 2004. The band remixed "Meet Your Master" from Nine Inch Nails' Year Zero, while bassist Petersen reworked Of Montreal's "Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games" under his Broken Spindles alias. The Faint then built their own studio, named Enamel, and formed their own label, Blank.Wav, on which they released Fasciinatiion in summer 2008. Doom Abuse, the band's fifth long-player, dropped in 2014, followed by the career retrospective Capsule: 1999-2016 in October 2016. ~ Peter J. D'Angelo, Rovi