By Timothy Dwenger
Since 1996, !!! (pronounced “Chk Chk Chk”) has been frenetically pioneering the resurgence and reinvention of dance punk. Alongside bands like LCD Soundsystem, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Rapture, !!! has consistently been recognized as one of the most interesting and creative bands in the genre. While their jawdropping live show put them on the map, they have been steadily upping their game in the recording studio and the driving beats and bubbling shimmer of the basslines on last year’s brazenly titled album Thr!!!er may well be their ticket to continued success.
“The songs always grow a bit once the record comes out and you live with it and it becomes tougher in the live setting. That’s the final stage for the songs, I suppose,” said frontman and founder Nic Offer from his home in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was working on some new music. “Thr!!!er has been a really fun record to tour. The songs have stood up and we’ve found things in them that we didn’t know were there.”
While he is proud of the work and the strength of the band’s current lineup, Offer was quick to credit producer and Spoon drummer Jim Eno as one of the key elements to the success of the record. “He was one of the best producers we’ve ever worked with and was a really big part of the synergy that we found. He was exactly what we wanted out of a producer,” Offer said. “He was someone we could respect and look up to, but also someone who kinda joined the band for a while. It felt like we could trust him to play referee and doctor and also just be one of the guys with ideas. We need someone we can listen to and take advice from and someone who says ‘no you don’t need three keyboard parts going at the same time, this one is the best one, let’s ditch these other two.’ With six people, there are a lot of ideas. It kind of helps to have someone like that involved. It was great working with him. We had a lot of fun.”
They had so much fun, and were so happy with the results, that Offer hinted that they might well be working with Eno again in the near future. “We’ve already talked about working together on the next record,” he revealed. “I know he just finished the new Spoon record, so he’s about to get really busy, but he said he would save some time for us before he went out for all the big touring behind that album.”
!!! has been on a steady pace of an album every three years since the release of their eponymous debut in 2001, but, though he was reluctant to say when a new !!! record might hit the shelves, Offer was adamant that they were trying to beat that timeline this go around.
Though Offer downplays it, one of the challenges that !!! deals with in writing new material is that they are spread out from coast to coast, with members living in Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, Portland and Sacramento. “We all live in different places so we do a lot of work on our own, but through the miracle of computers, we can work on tracks without being together,” he said. “This is just a way that evolved as a way of working. When I first moved to New York this wasn’t a career or anything, we were just doing it. As soon as I moved to New York people wanted us to keep being a band so we figured out a way to make it work. We turned into a band that would practice whenever we were together.”
It may seem like a difficult way of working to some, but !!! and others have proven that it’s possible to make a geographically diverse band work, despite the distance. Thr!!!er has been lauded as the group’s best piece of work to date and the buzz about their live show is unstoppable. “I have faith that we are one of the best live bands out there,” Offer said. “We just wanted to be one of those great transcendental bands who found something different in the music that you couldn’t find on a record. Something that only happened live.”
From the critical acclaim to the throngs of sweaty fans at their shows, this approach seems to have worked, but Offer admitted that he has worried that it worked too well. “We are known for being a great live band. That’s always the bad rap on us, and the thing that we are always fighting against, that people usually like the live show better than the album,” Offer said. With Thr!!!er, Offer and his bandmates seem to have challenged that belief and, judging by the general reaction to the album, they may well be overcoming that rap while still delivering an electrifying live show.
:: !!! ::
:: Bluebird Theater ::
:: April 6 ::
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