Plenty of bands should be caught live. !!! demands to be. Over the course of its 15-year history, the band (sounded out as “Chk Chk Chk”) has made the stage their playground, and used the crowd to help bring their vibrant mix of dance and punk to life. On record, their music is a smart and party-ready reinvention of disco, and song titles like “Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)” and the more recent “Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass” speak to their specific brand of wit. In person, though, their tunes create a high-impact party built around house beats, psychedelic guitars, and frontman Nic Offer’s over-the-top dance moves. This Tuesday, February 28, !!! kicks off a short California tour at S.B.’s own SOhO. While the set list is sure to include a smattering of tracks from the band’s four albums of material, the show will also double as a test run for a new collection of !!! tunes.
“Everything’s written, and we’ve been kind of in and out of the studio,” said Offer recently via phone from his home in New York. After the California shows, he and his bandmates will head to Austin to record with Spoon drummer/producer Jim Eno. And if all goes according to plan, says Offer, a new !!! record will be on the shelves by August or September.
The band’s current setup is not exactly conducive to traditional group songwriting: Offer, keyboardist Dan Gorman, and bassist Rafael Cohen all live in New York, while drummer Paul Quattrone lives in Pittsburgh, horn player/percussionist Allan Wilson resides in Portland, and guitarist Mario Andreoni is in the band’s hometown of Sacramento. “It’s 2012, and we make music like it’s 2012,” laughed Offer. “We send tracks back and forth across the Internet and work on them, but we also try to do things the old-school way, where one guy drops by the house every three days and we sit around the instruments and just work.”
Similarly, the band has been using their tour schedule as a means of working on new material, at times in far off locations; Chile, Indonesia, Spain, and Mexico City have all played host to the band’s recent writing sessions. As for how Offer thinks touring will affect the next record, it’s equally complicated.
“Every single record, we always struggle with topping the live show and making that a part of [the recording process],” he explained. “But then at the same time, we’re getting better at being in the studio, so we’re always experimenting with making complete studio tracks. This album will definitely be both of those; some things are absolute studio creations, and some things are just going to be kick-ass live songs.”
In truth, that dichotomy between !!!’s live set and their recorded material has long worked to the detriment of the band critically, and is something that Offer seems dead-set on changing this time out.
“I feel like each record is kind of the doorway to the next one,” he said. “This [album] feels very natural; we learned a lot about songwriting on the last one, and that all comes into play with this new one. I feel like we just had to slap ourselves in the face a bunch to make something fresh.”
Still, Offer concedes that live is where the band truly shines. “We really work to make a set that you won’t get bored during — we’ve really worked to make it fucking killer. I think that a lot of bands that have been around this long aren’t hungry, but if you’re still hungry at this age as a band, you’ve gained a lot of wisdom that can help you put together a good show. I think that’s what’s happening with us,” he pondered before continuing, “at least I hope that’s what’s happening.”
!!! plays an all-ages show at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Tuesday, February 28, at 8 p.m. with openers Wild Belle. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for info.