Nearly six years after the release of strangely desiccated 2008 album Fasciinatiion and one lengthy stroll down wait-is-this-a-hiatus-or-a-break-up? lane, the Faint has reemerged from the shadows to deliver up Doom Abuse—a vital, manic comeback triumph shellacked in an exquisite devil-may-fucking-care electro-sheen. Guitarist Dapose was kind enough to take a break from tour prep to chat with MAGNET about abusing doom, rekindling creative fires and rocking jams on the set of the children’s television powerhouse Yo Gabba Gabba.
How important was the break after Fasciinatiion to the creation of Doom Abuse?
It was critical. We just overdid it on Fasciinatiion. We tried too hard for too long for various reasons, and it sounds that way. We worked so long on that record that the idea of making more music as the Faint the same way just did not excite any of us. The Faint is about inspired ideas usually. Some of us went off and made club and party music. I went off and explored heavy noise and experimental improve music. Just pushing our ideas farther to see where is too far,
I feel like a lot of the disparate post-Danse Macabre sonic things the band dabbled in have cohered here. Does that seem fair or accurate to you?
Yes, but we just know a lot more about sound now. We pretty much know what every frequency is going to add or takeaway from a song because of all the years of labor making the last few records.
Did the 2012 Danse Macabre-in-its-entirety tour play into any of this at all?
Ha! No. That tour was fun to do. And that was the first step in doing this band again was learning to have fun again as the Faint. So I guess it was helpful.
So stepping back perhaps allowed you to see a little better how the pieces of the Faint puzzle might fit together?
Perspective can get lost for sure, and it’s always good to find some however you can. I like first impressions a lot. I like to walk out of the room and come back—helps me hear what’s good and bad about the music and lyrics quickly as apposed to convincing myself that something sounds great. If you have no context for the part or element in a song you’re working on you are just making more work for yourself by creating a problem.
Can you talk to me a little about process of writing and recording Doom Abuse?
This record was created with our live gear set up in our studio. We wrote a lot of the music just sort of live—jamming off of Todd’s demos; Clark will try some beats; Jacob and I will start making loud noises over it. And Todd might, too, but we’ll tell him to try his vocal melody over it. So Todd will bring lo-fi home recordings or some mumbling melody where he taps his phone with a pen and sings along. We’ll all listen to it and see if we hear anything in it we could turn into something. We tried some things, and on this record if it didn’t work it didn’t work. We move on. We used to focus more on the endless possibilities of the studio. We have learned the hard way that setting limitations or restrictions or deadlines for ourselves is a much more productive way for us to work.
Were you surprised at all by the material that flowed as you began to write?
Absolutely. We wrote so many great parts in this record very spontaneously. And much to all of our surprise most of those parts we still liked the next day and the next week! That’s just amazing to get all four of us on the same page about the direction of a song, and yet it just happened over and over this time.
Do you recall any initial songs or first impressions?
Fast. Punk rock. Noisy. Fuck it up has always been our mantra when one of us is on to something good.
Were there any new influences brought to the table?
We are pretty inquisitive dudes. And in the interweb era … I like looking to the past for inspiration.
Has this “let loose” attitude during recording bled over into the live performances?
We were trying to have our live performance bleed into our recoding sessions on this one. Studios can be comfortable. Live music on stage is not comfortable—it is pitch black except for constant strobing right in your eyes. You’re playing with ten times more vigor then when you’re writing. If your adrenaline wasn’t beating you into a full on sweat you’d realize you were drunk enough to get thrown out of a bar. In other words we were trying to have fun making this record.
Where did the album title originate?
It’s a mystery.
All right. Well, are there any particular manias explored in the lyrics this time out?
Mania is what we explored, really. We like to bitch about shit. And artfully craft it so it doesn’t sound like we’re bitching about shit.
I read Todd employed a ”stream of consciousness” singing technique on Doom Abuse—are you still peeling back layers of meaning?
It’s just juxtaposing meanings to create contexts that you would otherwise never explore. That’s the fun part about being an artist is changing what things mean.
You suggested earlier that he worked the vocal melodies out beforehand, though?
Yes. The melodies very often help supply the words through their own subjective powers—the power of suggestion and subconscious gelling.
I noticed this is coming out on SQE, not the band’s own post-Saddle Creek label blank.wav. Any particular reason for the change up? Did running too much of the show perhaps take away from the creative end of things?
Absolutely! DIY is a fabulous approach to many things but it doesn’t work beyond a certain point. We are stoked to be with SQE! Our friend Zane is running it, and he is a badass. Couldn’t be happier with that decision.
When the Faint first started garnering real widespread attention, it seemed like one of very few bands trying to put a new spin on synth-y electronic/rock ‘n’ roll. Now we hear a lot of echoes of what you guys were doing more than a decade ago—though perhaps not as dark. I’m sure, if you consider it at all, that it’s flattering, but at the same time does it also serve as impetus for the Faint to continue to break new ground?
We love doing our thing. We’re pretty uncompromising and are always trying to reach new places with music. I am happier these days when music speaks to others or groups. I used to spend a lot of time listening to music that one dude made with tons of time on his hands and a laptop studio. Now I’m listening to ’60s jazz. Old country tunes. I like songs that people can relate too as opposed to songs that are isolating and personal or supposed to be for only punks or hippies or metalheads. I like feeling connected with others more than being on an innovative island. All art is borrowed.
All right, you’ve got this awesome new record finished, the band is firing on all cylinders again. How does it feel? Is there a renewed love there? Newfound appreciation? An excitement for the future?
I got my shades on.
And, finally, just because my daughter Ruth is such a huge Yo Gabba Gabba fan, I have to ask: What was the experience of performing on that show like?
Ha! It was cooler than shit! We loved it. People were super nice. We got to see fun behind-the-scenes, making-of stuff that kids should never see. The song was fun to do. I would do it again in a heartbeat!