Saddle Creek | Broken Spindles | Reviews



03/26/2004 | | | Feature
Joel Petersen is a man of many hands, in a sense. Sometimes they are all over the bass with his full band The Faint and on other occasions he's in the studio with computers whirring away putting together songs for his side project Broken Spindles. Birthed as the soundtrack to a video project for an acquaintance, Petersen is set to release his second album under the surname. Where the first effort was pure instrumental, his new release, fulfilled/complete will include Petersen's vocals as well as a string quartet. Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes was reenlisted to Petersen's side as producer. What the duo have come up with is an interesting mix of feels and colors that is sure to pique the interest of many.

Petersen took some time to answer a few questions via e-mail for One Times One.

JA (Joel Armato): The Questioneer.
JP (Joel Petersen): The Musician

JA: What is it about a side project that lends itself such a wide-open space to explore? And what is it that keeps the ideas grounded so you don't just end up with a collection of songs that you made simply because you had the chance to? On fulfilled/complete, you spread a lot of different sounds out there, but everything seems to fit together perfectly.

JP: Those are some kind words, thanks. Well, I can't speak for all makers of side projects, but for me I think I am just in a very motivated/creative time in my life. All I want to do is make stuff. And I think one of the reasons for being drawn to writing different types of songs is that I really genuinely like a lot of things. And of course I don't want to write the same song over and over. That is what keeps me interested in making art, having that chance of making something that's pushing what I usually would make. I love thinking about the chance of something surprising me even though it came from me.

JA: Time wise, is Broken Spindles a completely separate place in your schedule or you able to work out songs and ideas for both that and The Faint at the same time?

JP: So far, I have not had any problem giving both projects my complete attention. I have generally been pretty good at managing my time so things seem to get done as they need to. I actually really enjoy working on things at the same time. I think it benefits both things basically just by having more experience in making sounds and putting together songs.

JA: Live instruments aside, what other production tools did you have at your disposal for the new album? Especially in regards to the drums, which are really interesting.

JP: All the drum stuff was either electronic or sampled or a combination of those two. Between what The Faint has and what the studio has, there was a lot of electronic stuff at my disposal.

JA: What was your experience with Mike Mogis like and how did it come about?

JP: I have known Mike for quite a long time and I did the first record with him and it turned out way better than it would have without him so I hoped he would do that again. He did. And then some.

JA: Between the release of the first Broken Spindles record (September 2002) and December of 2003 when you got back in the studio to follow it up, how much time was spent writing for fulfilled/complete and what kind of things were born in the studio?

JP: I wrote most of the songs from about May until November of 2003. I had everything pretty much done when going into the studio but had some ideas of strings and various textures to add. Things that require microphones. I knew Mike was very good at thinking about the textures and moods so I tried to give him a lot of freedom to add to anything as he saw fit.

JA: Was the choice to add vocals a result of wanting to expand the Broken Spindles cannon or trying to step away from the soundtrack feel? How about the use of strings?

JP: It didn't really seem like much of a decision. Basically I was working on the song "to die, for death" and for whatever reason I started humming a vocal line rather than a keyboard or guitar riff. So I went with it and started to enjoy expressing ideas in words as well as sounds. I have always loved how strings sound with electronic music and so does Mike so we made it happen.

JA: On the record, a lot of the slower tunes are set right next to the heavier or more upbeat ones and a few times they even segue right into each other, which creates an interesting flow. Was there a specific idea behind all of this or did it come up when it was time to mix and track the album?

JP: Well I have always been interested in the idea of putting together an album that felt like a whole rather than a bunch of pieces. I didn't have it all exactly mapped out when going into the studio but I had some ideas of the overall flow and just needed to see which tracks turned out and all that.

JA: What do the rest of your bandmates say about the Broken Spindles material? Will we see them guest spot on any future solo albums?

JP: They are all very supportive in whatever art any of us want to make. Guest spot? Who knows. That might be fun.

JA: Speaking of the future, where does Broken Spindles go from here?

JP: I am going to do a U.S. tour this June and have been working on a narrative based video to accompany the entire set. It is quite time consuming but I am happy with it so far.

The new Broken Spindles album fulfilled/complete will be released May 4, 2004 on Saddle Creek Records. For more info and audio samples check out


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