Reviews

Wet From Birth

Author: Nevin Martell
09/07/2004 | Mean Street | www.meanstreet.com | Album Review
Despite the fact that Omaha, Neb. is stranded in the cultural wasteland of the Midwest, the city has a lot more going on than you might think.

Not only is it the birthplace of Gerald R. Ford and the host to the Mid-America Ribfest, but it also has a thriving music scene. Chicago may have Touch and Go and Seattle might have Sub Pop, but Omaha has Saddle Creek Records, home to a diverse roster that includes Bright Eyes, Cursive and Rilo Kiley. It is also the home of America's new wave re-revolution that comes courtesy of The Faint. In 2001, these five unlikely lads unleashed Danse Macabre, a twisted take on synth-heavy '80's acts like Kraftwerk, Human League, Soft Cell and Flock of Seagulls.

It's taken them a while to get their act together, but they've finally released the proper follow-up, Wet From Birth, an equally precocious record that defies conventions. "Phone Call" gives new meaning to the phrase electro-Clash, while "Drop Kick the Punks" is like Public Image Ltd. at their most self-consciously poppy.

Clark Baechle, Todd Baechle, Dapose, Joel Petersen and Jacob Thiele have spent the past year recording in Omaha in a converted warehouse and they're eager to talk about the experience.

"Sometimes the warehouse is a club that plays house music, but if we called it the clubhouse that would be kinda cheesy," Clark says in-between bites of brunch.

"We decided to call it the Orifice," reveals Joel. "The name made sense, because when we moved in the place was a hole."

"Yeah," agrees Dapose, "It didn't have air conditioning, heat, windows, electricity, plumbing…"

When asked if they approached making music any different this time around, there's a series of nods.

"It was quite a bit different," Joel declares. "I think we ultimately spent more time talking about making music than actually playing music. It was pretty interesting, because it was a more intellectual approach to making music."

"Everyone contributed in every way," Todd stresses. "Anyone could come up with any idea. If we needed a bass line, we'd pass the bass around. It was very collaborative."

The oddest collaboration on the record is undoubtedly the band's groundbreaking work with a raccoon penis bone.

"I bought it at this place in New York City called Evolution," Todd explains. "You can buy skulls and stuff there and I had some things delivered to the studio. I had a sound in my head that day, and it wasn't a keyboard sound. It was some kind of percussive sound, so we looked around outside for something to make it with and there was the raccoon penis bone!"

"We like to just record whatever sounds right — banging on a washing machine, whatever," Dapose chips in. "We don't do it like Matmos, but we like the idea of not necessarily using an instrument to make a sound, rather than manipulating random samples on a computer."

So the next time you find yourself dancing to the Faint in some grimy indie club, just remember that you very well may be shaking your hips in time to the rhythms of a raccoon penis bone.
Wet From Birth

Wet From Birth

LP / CD / MP3