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LITERATURE» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
MUSIC» The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
MUSIC» Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
In light of both my review of their album and the band's massive popularity (over the last decade they've SoundScanned hundreds of thousands of copies of their albums, not to mention those swapped via file sharing networks), perhaps the biggest surprise in meeting the pair was how calm, collected and easy going they were. Granted, that success has come on their own, independent terms (the band was a stalwart and original fixture on the hugely successful Saddle Creek label until this year, when they launched their own imprint for the release of Fasciinatiion), but the soft spoken and polite manner of both Fink and Thiele, two guys who know how to milk the dance-punk scene they helped popularize, was truly disarming. While the band waited to take the stage, I took the chance to ask Fink and Theile about the long wait for their new album, their old skating pals, and how many guys they have riding in their bus.
LAS: Can you explain what happened during the four years between the release of Wet From Birth and the release of Fasciinatiion?
Thiele: Starting our own label and moving away from Saddle Creek took up about the last four months of that time, while we were finishing up the album. Mostly, it was the construction of the studio we built.
Fink: We hired contractors to help design it and tear down the old one, the Oriface.
Thiele: We demolished the existing space…
So that's gotta take a little while.
Fink: We had the building for a while. We got it right after Wet From Birth.
Thiele: We got the building in November of 2005, a little over a year after we released Wet From Birth.
Fink: And we just kind of waited until the studio was done so we could record right away.
Were you working on new songs during that time?
Fink: It was kind of a slow moving process.
Thiele: We wrote a lot of songs that eventually got tossed aside. Just us as a band working on our songwriting chops, I guess you could say.
Fink: It was a while until we started that. After a record comes out there's tons of touring and publicity. When you finally do start writing songs again, it takes a while to figure it all out. You're not in that habit and you're not going to know what you want it to be when it comes out. It takes a while to get back into it. You kind of forget the system of it… and it turns out there isn't a system.
What about your live system? You guys always seem to have a lot going on in your live shows.
Fink: Yeah, we're always doing too much stuff.
Thiele: On this tour we have a bit of a different set up. We still have a few technical bugs to figure out.
Fink: They're still getting worked out. That's kind of the way it happens when we're on tour. We show up and figure out what doesn't work today -and how can we make it work with what we do have working, to make a show that we would still like to see.
Do you tour with a big crew to help you set up and tear down?
Thiele: We have a crew of seven people, including our driver.
Fink: We do?
Thiele: Yeah, we've got twelve bunks and there's eleven being used on this bus.
Fink: We do have a midi-tech this time around, which helps a lot. Instead of having a usual guitar tech who tunes and hands out guitars, we decided to have somebody around who knows a lot about keyboards because when those go out, it's not like they're just a little out of tune, they're just off. Sometimes you can't play a song without one of the keyboards and it turns into a big deal if it's gone.
How long into this tour are you?
Thiele: We're about a week into it.
Fink: We're still just getting started.
Thiele: We're pretty much on tour for the rest of the year. We have a couple weeks off here and there.
Seems to me that all the Saddle Creek bands and prominent members are moving out of Omaha, with Conor Oberst moving to New York and Tim Kasher now in LA. Are you guys planning on sticking it out in Omaha?
Thiele: We don't really have any reason to be anywhere else. We almost moved out of the country when George Bush was re-elected. We were like, let's get out of here.
Fink: But it's hard to move. We all grew up around Omaha and have our lives there. Girlfriends and families. It's kind of hard for a lot of people to move out of a country and all get visas.
Hopefully that will be getting better in a few months.
Thiele: Yeah, but you never know what kind of dirty tricks can be pulled. "October surprise" - what's the term?
Todd, do you keep in touch with any of your old skateboarding pals. I grew up watching all the H-street videos and was wondering if you still hang out with Danny Meyer or any of the old crew.
Fink: Yeah. Danny comes out to shows every once in a while. We see Steve Berra and Eric Koston a lot. We were just talking to those guys about their new website and skatepark, the Berrics. They update their website with new stuff all the time.
Are you guys going to check out Burnside while you're here in Portland?
Thiele: I walked over that bridge to the East side to eat at one of my favorite restaurants in the world, Nicholas.
The surprising thing about that restaurant - they are not going to get any bigger. They are super popular and make some of the best Middle Eastern food you'll ever have, but they're always going to stay in that tiny restaurant with twelve tables.
Thiele: That's good for them. Seriously the food there, it's easily one of my favorite restaurants in the whole world.
You guys are headed down the West coast after this, right?
Fink: Yes, San Francisco.
Thiele: We have two shows in San Francisco.
Fink: And triple in LA… well Pamona is outside of LA, but in the same area.
Well good luck getting all the kinks worked out. I can't wait to see you guys on stage tonight.
After crazy sets by Shy Child and Jaguar Love, the crowd was ready for the strobe-lit action of the headliners. The Faint took to the stage and put on a great show. Pulling material from their last four albums, opening with "Agenda Suicide" and running through another baker's dozen of songs before closing (pre-encore) with "Worked Up So Sexual," as usual, the band sounded perfect live. Catch them on tour, as they don't disappoint.
VIDEO: "Paranoiattack" (live In Omaha) SEE ALSO: www.thefaint.com
SEE ALSO: www.myspace.com/thefaint
SEE ALSO: www.blankwav.com
SEE ALSO: www.saddle-creek.com
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he's afraid of really growing up.
See other articles by Bob Ladewig.
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