Todd Fink of the Faint talks Danse Macabre and why he's avoided doing the dance of the dead
For Danse Macabre, you brought in Dapose (Michael Dappen), who was in the death metal band LEAD. Why did you want to bring in guitar more prominently with that record, and what about his style of playing did you think was suited to what you wanted to do on that album?
It wasn't even that well thought out. We had a friend, kind of a new friend, and he was hanging around the house with us when we were practicing. We knew he was good at guitar, but he was also a pretty good visual artist. We had kind of invited him to participate in the band on the visual side. We thought it would be nice to have more time to do the music and not spend as much time on the videos or the artwork and have that cohesive thing.
But he ended up being around while we were making Danse Macabre, and he added stuff to it, and we started playing together, and he became the guitarist. Eventually he ended up doing lots more artwork, too. Now he does most of the video stuff and finalizes all of the artwork. I collaborate with him on most of the artwork, but he is the one that makes it all look good.
In the liner notes to the new, deluxe edition of Danse Macabre, what inspired your observation of people in essentially dead end, joyless, unrewarding jobs doing the dance of the dead? It sounds like maybe you had direct experience with that?
I think I was at a point in my life, and I don't want to speak for the other guys, where we had found what it was we were trying to do with our music when we made Blank Wave Arcade. We had toured and had had an amazing time doing that, and I just wanted to make more music and keep doing that. But I had a job -- not a hard job, not a band kind of job -- a record store job. But it was something that was on my mind: If I'm going there, I can't be making the music that I want to make.
I guess I just decided that maybe it would be better not to spend my day doing anything other than music and art. I don't need money. I don't really require much. I realized time is a valuable thing. I'd just been thinking about it a bunch and how in some people's circumstance that when they reach the end of their lives they think, "Shit, I thought I was just supposed to do this. It turns out I didn't have to. I could have been doing other stuff. I never did what I wanted to do with my life. I never found the thing I was after."
I just don't want to have it be like that. I want to at least give it a shot, whatever I'm interested in. I've found that so far that the things I've been really interested in, I ended up doing a lot. When I do a certain thing a lot, I get better at it, and, eventually, it becomes a way that I can navigate life. So I thought I'd try that with music. I ran into physical problems with skateboard, so I had to stop that. I liked shooting pool, so I thought maybe I'd do that, but I ended up playing music.
Clearly Danse Macabre is one of the classic albums of the last twenty years. Why did you feel that this year was the right time to tour playing that album in its entirety?
It all just kind of fell into place, really. It was time to make a new pressing. We had just come off of a break of a couple of years and wanted to get out and do some touring but didn't have a new record. So we thought it would be fun that if we were going to re-master and re-press the record, we could play the record, and it could buy us some time and generate the money to be able to write music and not work jobs when we get back for a couple of months.
It's a fun process, really, finding all the old stuff and going through all the nostalgia, pretty much. Yeah, we want the record to sound good, and if there is any way we can make it sound any better, why not?
Do you feel that it is especially relevant at this time? In many ways it seems like it is, considering the subject matter.
I don't know. It's hard to know. The context is really different now. It stands out less now than it did then, I think. Maybe. But at the same time, I was looking to put together a DJ set the other day and thinking, "Oh, I want to keep it in the realm of Faint-like things." It wasn't that easy. Maybe I just don't like the bands that sound like us, or we sound like, or are similar.
The song "The Conductor" is reminiscent of New Order in some ways. Was that a band an influence on what you've done in the Faint and how so?
Yeah. We're all New Order fans. I mean, any similarities that we have had with those records? We were really weird about anyone knowing if there was a similarity to the progression of another song. We pretty much did this thing that wasn't similar to anything anybody knew. At the same time, of course, it's going to sound like things that you like. I don't know why we were so protective of that. I don't think it was necessary in hindsight. We just wanted it to be its own thing. The attempt was to do something totally different.