As a huge music lover, something awesome happened to me. My friend Jani (thank you so much, mister!) suggested that I could do an interview with one of the coolest dance-punk bands I've known. These days I'm dancing to their beats all the time.
In short, !!! (Chk Chk Chk) is a dance-punk band formed in California back in 1996. Imagine a world where disco doesn't suck and indie rockers go dancing to the shows. This is the world of Chk Chk Chk. The seven-piece band is now living in New York City and is comprised of Mario Andreoni (bass, guitars, mixing), Nic Offer (vocals, keys, mixing), Gorman Dan (trumpet, percussion, keyboards), John Pugh (percussion, gong, vocals, drums), Tyler Pope (guitars, drums, mixing, bass, keys, programming, editing), Allan Wilson (keys, sax, percussion), and Justin Vandervolgen (mixing, bass). The band was formed during an all night dance party in Sacramento; it rose from the remnants of the Black Liquorice, a disco cover band, and Popesmashers, who were a spastic noise band. Can you only imagine the recreational activities that made these two bands think about merging? But wait, the laboratory pairing becomes even more exciting when you add Nic Offer's experience he gathered as a vocalist at the hardcore band Yah Mos. With all the unique pieces of the puzzle in place, Chk Chk Chk set out to create a sound that challenges and moves a lot of listeners.
But wassup with the band's name, you ask. It was inspired by the subtitles of the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, in which the clicking sound of the Bushmen's Khoisan language were represented as "!". However, as the bandmembers themselves say, !!! can be pronounced by repeating any monosyllabic sound three times. Chk Chk Chk, Pow Pow Pow, Pah Pah Pah, Woop Woop Woop - anything can go! The band's name is definitely intended to illustrate their enthusiasm and is imbued with a strong craving to shake things up.
!!! is now out with a fresh new album, THR!!!er, which complements their last record with mystic vocal harmonies and reverbed flute loops. It's also characterized by a shift of emphasis from electronic tootles toward tidy, complete funk musicianship. The record is pervaded with wiry, kinked guitars, ropy bass lines, popping handclaps, chanting choruses, and falsetto outbursts, all working efficiently for dancers and at the same time evoking big moments for listeners.
Wanna get to know these awesome dudes a little better? Keep on reading!
Hey guys, how're you all doing?
Fine. Thank you. And you?
Fine. Thank you. And you?
Doing super-fine, thanks. Ok, so I don't want to start this with stereotypes about nations, but I still gotta ask: from what you've seen, do Europeans party harder than Americans?
Welll, let's just saaaay ... Yes, it's true. Europeans party harder than Americans.
!!! (chk chk chk) was formed in 1995 – the praised 90s. Do you think that 90s were really the golden era of alternative music? Or do you think that people maybe just have the tendency to look on the past trough rose-coloured glasses?
No. We hated the 90s, that's why we tried to do something different. 90s was all that "I hate myself and want to die" music. We didn't hate ourselves and we thought life was beautiful. We liked hip hop and r'n'b, but we thought all indie was boring. It's only now that I've been able to begin to understand the 90s thanks to the rose-coloured glasses. I feel bad missing all that good stuff in the 90s, so now I try to keep a more open mind. I never ever complain that things aren't as cool as they used to be, because I know one day people will be looking back and saying it was better back then. It was never better, it's always great in some genre of music.
If you had to describe the 90s and 2010s with one general emotion, what would it be?
Does the critical response from the media world in any way affect your creativity and overall state of mind?
It does in certain ways. You can't spend a lot of time dwelling on it, but it's good to learn from the criticism and try to get better because of it. I feel like that's what made us work hard to make THR!!!ER as good as it is.
The latest album (Thr!!!er) alternates between expansive, psychedelic dance and punk. How do you balance the two?
The only balance lies in what interests you as a musician. We just follow what grooves fascinate us. Let me give an example: I'm always taping up pictures on my wall. I just tape them up randomly next to each other and they all seem to form new shapes and patterns next to each other. I really like that kind of beauty.
If you had to pick someone from the punk world (from any era), who do you think could significantly contribute to your sound?
Ian Mackaye or Guy Picciotto.
There were probably many changes in your lifestyle since the beginnings till now – can you point out some major ones?
Oh geez, so many changes. I mean, we started this band 17 years ago. We did the first few tours just sleeping on people's floors. The first time we got a hotel, we were all sleeping in the same room and we were so excited we were jumping on the beds. Now we're all in separate rooms and I have to remember to jump on the beds sometimes to be glad about it. But we're still glad, so that's good.
What are your plans for your career in the future? For example, can you see yourselves becoming a stadium band, or is that at odds with what you want to achieve?
I don't really think a stadium is in the cards for us, but really we'll play anywhere. We like to play, we'll go back to playing basements if we have to. We just wanna make great records and be the best live band you can see today.
What's your life philosophy, can you name any rules that you live by?
Always go towards what you're afraid of. I use that all the time. I'm always so glad after I do so. Everything that I was afraid of turns out to be the funnest.
Do you have a favourite memory from the whole musical journey so far? Any regrets?
A favourite memory ... There's really so, so, so many. I've got other things to do tonight, I can't take a trip down memory lane just now. I'll tell one at random ... I remember on my 30th birthday we played with both !!! and OutHud. Everyone chipped in to buy me a 4-track recorder and surprised me with it backstage. I cried. That was really expensive to us back then but it was a really important step for me to take. I probably wouldn't be doing this interview now if they hadn't bought me that.
Thanks so much for your time, I really appreciate it!
As you can see, !!! has come up with some pretty convincing musical arguments that indicate we still have some significant growth capabilities in noise music genre. Most of you, my dear readers, are probably avid downloaders and collectors that are just looking for something to blow your minds. Let me tell you to look no further, because you have found it. With all the endless name pronunciations possibilities, I wish you luck when trying to explain what you're looking for to the guy at the record store.