“When any band starts, they sound closer to their roots,” singer Nic Offer explains. “We started out influenced by James Brown and Sonic Youth, but then expanded into the New York sound, became more disco-y, club-y. By our mistakes, we found our own voice.”
But the things that go into the sonic blender that is !!!’s sound make an eclectic mix on their own: “early post-punk like Talking Heads, but also Chic, Bohannon, house and techno music, the Beatles and Led Zep, anything.” But absorbing that amazingly wide spectrum of sound hasn’t made !!!’s music derivative; rather, if anything, it has seemed to strengthen their ability to assert their own musical persona.
Given that their first self-titled full-length was released 10 years ago, it would be unlikely that they hadn’t gone through some major lineup changes, the most recent caused by the death of former drummer Jerry Fuchs in 2009.
“There are more songs,” Offer remarks of the band’s new album, Strange Weather, Isn’t It?, constructed by their new lineup. “In the old days, everything was 12 minutes long. Now, with lineup changes, we have a fresh perspective.”
The album was recorded partly in Berlin, Germany, co-produced with Eric “Babytalk“ Broucek (former house engineer for DFA), and Offer recalls that it was a different way of working. “It was the basement of a club,” he notes. “We’d just jam for hours and record that, then edit later. We tried to focus on what actually matters in the song, the meat of the song. We want the songs to really grip you from beginning to end.”
The group is following another forward-thinking trend—releasing the download free online and charging for limited-edition vinyl. It’s similar to the podcasting model of “freemium,” with free basic episodes and premium content that costs extra. It remains to be seen whether it will save the music industry, but it’s better than advertisements appearing on music. There always seems to be at least some hardcore fans who will pay for extra goodies.
Offer still keeps up with new music, whether those sounds make their way into his tunes or not. Right now, he’s listening to Tame Impala. “I like how they stretch out; they are jammy, yet still poppy and psychedelic.” Also on his heavy rotation is The Mole’s As High As You Could Get, which he says is “a really good dance album,” as well as surf rock-influenced San Diego band Wavves. Such an eclectic mix just shows how much Offer loves music, and that’s what comes through in his own music, rather than diluted influences.
“In some ways, you learn the same lessons over and over again,” Offer says. “It’s easy to forget the important things, like ‘keep it simple.’ ” The sound on the new album isn’t stripped down, exactly, as much as the individual musical elements are allowed to have their own space on a palette that’s uncluttered. A song like “Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass” even offers tongue-in-cheek humor. With a slight pallor over the release due to the death of Fuchs, a little levity is sorely needed and much appreciated.
There are almost as many ways to experience !!! live as there are elements that have gone into their music. “It’s both a concert and a dance party,“ Offer says. “It’s a dynamic live show; you can dance or just listen.“ Most people say their live show is better than the recordings, he has found.
“Our punk energy still shines through live.”
w/ Chain Gang
In The Venue
579 W. 200 South
Saturday, Sept. 11
$15 adv./$18 day of