In 2008--when he and his wife Ashley were in local indie-rock band The Murders--Jacobb Sackett wrote a song titled "The Finer Points of Sadism." Not all of his bandmates approved of the composition.
"We never actually played it at all," Jacobb said. "We had a guitarist at the time that refused. He said that any of his friends and family would be appalled at a name like that [for] a song. He didn't want his friends hearing that."
Though his band never played it, Jacobb held onto the tune. Following The Murders' breakup in 2009, the Sacketts named their next project after the erstwhile song and worked as a duo, which they felt suited the more experimental nature of their new music.
"I don't think you should be in a band if you just want to be in a band," Ashley said. "You're not going to go anywhere with it. ... But when you have somebody who has that passion of being a part of something so abstract or different, it's going to work."
That shared passion has kept The Finer Points of Sadism productive over the past few years. Since 2009, the band has released eight albums on Bandcamp and built an international fan base. FPS released its latest album, Banned Standards, on Sept. 30, and has since expanded to include three additional members: Tyson Cooley, Nate Slavick and Gage Steinburg. The band will play its first show in more than a year on Tuesday, Dec. 10, opening for La Puente, Calif.-based art-pop act Pale, and Seattle-based electro-dance group Dionvox at The Crux.
A "near-death experience" for Jacobb inspired the Sacketts to switch from indie-rock to experimental music after The Murders broke up. While working as a corrections officer, Jacobb witnessed abuses that he said pushed him into "a place of, like, 'I don't know how to live. I don't know how to be a person anymore.'"
He drove out to Swan Falls and took more than 40 Xanax pills. Then he started hearing low, humming sounds. The world went to "negative, like a photo negative," he said.
The sounds and hallucinations scared him. He managed to drive to downtown Kuna, where he was met by the police and received medical help.
"But after all of that and coming out of all of that, the sounds stayed," Jacobb said. "And then I hear [British performance-art band] Throbbing Gristle, and it's like I'm hearing the same things I heard that day."
The sounds don't scare Jacobb.
"It just relaxes me," he said. "It puts me back in a moment that shouldn't be relaxing, but for some reason, it is. I feel at peace. ... I was at a moment where I was ready to let go, and I chose to live. And so when I play that music, I feel like I'm back in that moment. And so there's a lot of power there; there's a lot of energy there."
Blending bizarre, ear-wrenching electronic noises with improvisational, post-punk-influenced songwriting, FPS's music is not for all tastes. The Sacketts readily admit this, acknowledging as well that the difficulty of categorizing their music has probably limited the number of shows they've played.
"I think people are a little scared of booking us because we are so different and they think that the bands need to match [and be] in the same genre," Ashley said. "But once we get something going and we find these other bands that want to do something different, I think it'll be easier."
As unconventional as it is, FPS has found an enthusiastic audience. A perusal of the band's Facebook page--which has more than 1,800 likes--will show that it has fans in numerous countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Greece, India, Japan and the Philippines. In August and September, FPS held a giveaway on rafflecopter.com for a hand-crafted art book that included an exclusive 37-minute track. The giveaway received more than 200 entries--Jacobb estimated that translates to between 70 and 80 people.
Radio stations and independent music labels have taken notice of FPS, as well. The band's music has received radio play on WMUC in College Park, Md.; WSLR in Sarasota, Fla.; and Australian Public Radio. FPS songs have appeared on compilations by Scottish netlabel Itsu Jitsu and Canadian netlabel Murder Gore Records.
Jacobb started playing drums when he was 9 years old and moved to guitar in his teens. Thanks to music videos, he discovered post-punk and new wave music. An especially crucial influence was new wave group Wall of Voodoo, which Jacobb first heard when he was 7 years old.
"It stuck with me," Jacobb said. "And then when I was about 13, I found ["Mexican Radio," by Wall of Voodoo] on some '80s music compilation [at] the mall. I still found it so innovative and just different from the typical new wave sound that you'd hear [from] other bands at that time."
Ashley, by contrast, didn't really start playing music until high school, when she and Jacobb started dating. At the time, Jacobb was in indie-rock duo The Tables.
"They were looking for a bass player, and I said, 'Oh, I could be your bass player,'" she said. "Totally joking. I mean, I had played flute before that. ... And [Jacobb] was like, 'Oh yeah, you could. Here, play.'"
Jacobb hopes to bring that spirit to FPS's new lineup. He believes that "when you're coming into something that's so improvisational or so off-the-wall ... you feel kind of uncomfortable when it should be such a liberating experience. And that's what I have to keep telling them. I say, 'This is liberating.'"
Ashley sees the advice sinking in.
"I think they've enjoyed it," she said. "We've all meshed together really well."
After the Crux show--which FPS plans to film and post on Youtube--the band hopes to release an EP with Laudanum Productions in January. FPS is also looking to play shows in Portland, Ore., and Seattle next year.
But while Jacobb is eager to tour, he still takes a certain pride in coming from Boise.
"For the last few years, they've called Boise a barren wasteland in the music scene," he said. "But barren wastelands can be home to strange animals."