Not for the Faint of Heart

Midwest dance punk band disses social media

These days it’s hard to be an artist of any sort and not be on social media, says Todd Fink, vocalist for  Midwest dance punk band The Faint

“It’s part of what you have to do,” he tells me over the phone from L.A. “I don’t mind it.”

Nevertheless, his band’s latest album, Egowerk, out now on Saddle Creek Records, is themed around the negative effect social media has had on public discourse. 

“The songs aren’t against social media as a whole,” Fink says. “They’re just pointing out the things that aren’t so hot about it.

“We’re now trained to think whatever opinion we happen to have, everyone should have, and everyone who doesn’t is our enemy.”

Back in the ’90s, The Faint added some abrasive electronic groove to Omaha label Saddle Creek’s usual roster of indie folk-rock. Label-mate Conor Oberst, also known as Bright Eyes, is a former member of the band.

At that time, The Faint used pummeling drum machines and burbling synthesizers while always managing to feel like a band of real humans.

Drawing obvious comparisons to a lot of ’80s post-punk, The Faint hand-selected certain elements of punk rock and new wave for a mix that’s both danceable and intellectually interesting.

Since then, the band’s stayed busy, releasing new material about every four years. It’s been five years since the last album of all-new studio material, but the band is always working on new material, Fink says.

“Music is always part of what’s going on in my life,” he says.

Before blowing out his knee, Fink was an avid skateboarder. 

“Music and skateboarding — two sides of the same coin,” he says. “We always listened to music while we skated.”

Once he couldn’t skate anymore, Fink got into playing music. It took a while for his band to find its sound, he says. “When we started, you were just kind of doing what comes naturally, looking for your sound — what feels like you and the group of people you’re with.” 

While conceding that social media is here to stay, does Fink see a way to recapture the failed democratizing potential of the internet?

“I think first we need to recognize the patterns before finding a way forward,” he says.

The Faint plays with Utah neo-goth rockers Choir Boy 9 pm Sunday, May 19, at Sessions Music Hall; $20 advance, $22 door, all-ages.

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