Reviews

Danse Macabre

Author: Johnah Bayer
04/10/2002 | Ithaca Times | Live Show Preview
"Hear that?" a barely audible Todd Baechle half-screams, half-laughs into his cell phone. Baechle, vocalist and keyboard player for Omaha's quasi-new-wave outfit, The Faint, is referring to he high-pitched squeals of "YOU GUYS ROCK!" which periodically interrupt our interview. Okay, so technically the screams aren't for The Faint... they're for their tourmates No Doubt. But this tour, The Faint have gotten similar treatment from fans-an occurrence that still seems to freak them out. "It's hard to get used to because in our scene people kinda keep their cool," he explains. "They're too proud to completely succumb to stardom and celebrity, which makes sense to me. It seems all a bit ridiculous."
The scene Baechle is referring to is the underground indie community where the band formed-alongside other notable Omaha acts like Bright Eyes and Cursive-and thrived since 1994 (back then they used the literary moniker Norman Bailer). The band -Todd, his drummer brother Clark, and bassist Joel Peterson-started out as a guitar-driven punk band nostalgic for the John Hughes films with their 1998 debut, Media. But with 1999's Blank-Wave Arcade 2001's Danse Macabre (and the addition of Full time synth player, Jacob Thieleby and guitarist, Dapose), The Faint have evolved into a full-fledged new-wave band with a flare for electronic exploration.

Aside from Gwen Stefani and her abs (No Doubt chose the band to be their opening act), The Faint's dance floor anthems have caught on with indie hipsters all over the country. "I always figured that we'd never have the type of music that would be considered the new thing or cool," admits Baechle. "I can't tell if it's just from the things that I see because I'm in the band, but it seems like we fit really well into what's cool right now."

Unfortunately, coolness don't pay the bills, and despite the steep ticket price, opening acts don't earn a sizable share of the corporate pot. "We don't get paid anything for these shows," says Baechle. "We only can go on this tour because we're playing some of our own shows to make up for it." It's true; on almost every off day the Faint are at it, playing intimate clubs that their fans can afford to attend. And If that weren't enough, they're also writing material for their next album on laptops in a dilapidated tour bus that they still can't afford.

But although they are playing arenas every night until the middle of May, including Cornell's Barton Hall on Sunday, the band remain startling modest. When asked about Danse Macbre's publicity sicker proclaiming the Faint as "The Rock Band for the new Millennium," Baechle's response is typical of his personality: self- deprecating...and hopeful. "No, I disagree," he says with a laugh. " I hope there's something better. I also hope we get better."

Doctor Pocket will be celebrating the release of their third album at the Haunt on Friday. The 14-track record, which is called Turn it Around, is the group's first record in three years, and they're hoping it will free them from the jam-band tag that's followed them since their inception in 1995.Guitarist Jim Adamo acknowledges that the group was deserving of the label during their early days as cover band in Potsdam (where they lived until '97, before relocating to Syracuse), but he's also quick to point out that these days Phisheads may be disappointed that the group who recently won Syracuse's Best Music Award in the jam- band category abstains from 20-minute extended noodling. "I think we're a rock-based band with some elements of funk and jazz and blues; but we're really just trying to go for more of a songwriter approach...just write good songs"

Turn it Around will be the first time that the group's current lineup-drummer Matt Belardinelli, bassist Brett Hobin, guitarists Jim Adamo and Tom Binasco, and singer Joshua Farrell-will be documented, but that's not the only thing that sets this record apart from their previous releases. "I think it's a little heavier than what we were doing before," says Adamo. "Bottom line: it's a better representation of what we're doing now than our first two CDs."

The group's diverse list of influences is evident in the myriad of styles that are prevalent in all their music, the most noticeable being Stevie Wonder. "We listen to a large variety: Zeppelin, Hendrix, Jeff Buckley, there's a ton of stuff," says Adamo. "Everything influences us, it's hard to pinpoint just a few."
Danse Macabre

Danse Macabre

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