(Chk Chk Chk) In Search of Undeniable Groove
Upon first listen to any !!! track, it’s clear that they have many different musical influences. Their sound has been described as disco punk, indie dance-rock, funky electronic and more. If you are not familiar with !!!, you should get your hands on their breakthrough record, “Louden Up Now” (2004), working your way to “Myth Takes” (2007) and then the most recent, “Strange Weather, Isn’t It?” (2010). It’s a musical journey that any music fan should explore.
The band is also known for putting on an amazing live performance, so this is one act you do not want to miss at Pentaport. It is hard to take your eyes off of lead singer Nic Offer once he gets started with his hip-shimmying dance moves that are somehow both nerdy and sexy at the same time. Groove Korea had the chance to chat with Nic about the band’s upcoming trip to Seoul and the band’s musical inspirations.
Groove Korea: You guys are just finishing up a North American tour including gigs at SXSW, Coachella, Sasquatch and Bonnaroo. What was your favorite part of this tour so far and why?
Nic Offer: You know I had a really good time at SXSW. Everyone says that it’s kind of just a shitty music industry festival, but I thought it was fun. I actually saw some really amazing bands. We generally have a good time wherever we go. And this year we’ve been playing our new songs, so everything has been fun.
Have you ever been to South Korea before? If so, what was that experience like?
No, never been. We’re excited to play somewhere we’ve never played before, so everyone is looking forward to making the trip.
The band is known for its great live performances and you are known for your dance moves. Where did you learn those moves and were you always so comfortable on stage?
I kind of just made up most of my moves. Although when I was 10 years old, I did take a break dancing class for a few weeks, which I thought was actually good. I mean, I don’t do anything up there that looks like break dancing, but it helps you think about it in a weird way. I think it is a really good idea for kids to have these classes.
Then just recently I did go to a choreographer to have her help me think about it differently again. But pretty much everything is just me doing what I’m doing, you know? I’m just trying to do anything to have a good time. As much as I try out stuff off of the stage, all of that just goes out the window when I’m on stage. It’s very kind of natural. I’ve always been comfortable on stage. Even as a kid, I was doing air guitar at the talent show. I was having a blast already.
So it sounds like you were meant to be a performer?
I think so. I even remember in school there were days when the teacher would announce a book report and she would say it was oral. The whole class would be groaning and I would be like, “Sweet!” because now I don’t have to do anything. All I had to do was read the book and just go up there and talk about it and I’d get an A. So that’s always been the easiest thing for me.
In August your latest album “Strange Weather, Isn’t It?” was released. Currently, the band doesn’t all live in the same city, so did that make the writing and recording process different from previous albums?
We’re always trying to find new ways to write, so each time we make a record we’re making up a new way to write it. With our earlier records we were definitely always jamming and collaborating together in a room. Now that we all live in separate cities, we have to do it any way we can. So we kind of just meet up with whatever formation of the group is together, if there’s a couple of us, or three or four of us. It might be something that somebody wrote and the rest of us jam on it. So with this last record, we experimented with a few different ways we could work.
Where do you find inspiration for new material?
I mean, we’re always excited about new music. We’re still searching for new sounds and to discover something new from music. Music is still my greatest inspiration. I’m still a fan. That’s what always blows me away, is that I’m still just as in love with it as ever. But in order to write lyrics, I usually have to be reading something. That’s inspiring too.
Are there any particular bands you are into right now, whether new or old?
I’m trying to think of what I’m listening to this week. I really like the new Dodo’s album. I think it’s really good. I like Ramadanman. Mostly I’ve been listening to techno-ey dance music lately, so it’s been more like listening to singles instead of albums.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician and why?
Really just playing music itself. When I think of all of my other interests - whether it’s books or film or art or whatever - I love all of those things, but my obsession with them just comes so far behind music. When we’re in the jam room and we’re first beginning to groove and it’s taking off, I think that’s one of the most exciting feelings in the world. And when we’re on stage playing music, the sounds that come out of us, whether they are good or not, they sound good to me. That’s just the really exciting part to me.
Could you ever imagine doing anything else? If so, what would it be?
Well that’s the thing, I mean I can’t do it forever, so I do need to figure out something else and I can’t fucking figure out what that would be (laughs).
But why do you say you can’t do this forever? I mean, you could potentially. No?
Ehhh, not a lot of musicians make good records when they are older. It is possible, but when you look through your own record collection, the average age is… well, younger than I am (laughs). But whatever, I always do it just to have fun and I’ll always do it in some sense, even if it’s just with some guys playing reggae at some bar. That will be fine for me.
!!! formed back in 1996. Generally speaking, how do you think you have grown and changed since then?
We’ve changed in so many ways, it’s actually easier to say how we’re the same. The way that we’re the same is that we’re constantly in search of that undeniable groove that will make everyone dance and we still just want to have a really good time together. We’re still just really great friends.
Is there a new album or project in the works?
Yeah, we’re working on the new record. I don’t know what to say is different, but it definitely is different. There’s a new fire in the band. We’re just really excited to find something new and keep going. We’ll be playing some of the new songs in Seoul for sure.