!!! (Chk Chk Chk)


20 Monday 20th September 2010
For over a decade !!! (chk chk chk) have been churning out psyche-tinged, no-wave flecked, dance-punk. Updating the afro-rhythmic post-disco of Liquid liquid, !!! soundtracked the endless parties and ravaged the sleep patterns of a decade. Combined with wry observational lyrics that are humorous, satirical and political all at once, !!! captured that bar to gig, to bar to club, to warehouse to rave, to house to party till sunrise and repeat lifestyle uniting modern day hepcats in 'scenes' around the globe. There's nothing better than classic !!! tracks such as Dear Can, Myth Takes or Heart of Hearts to listen to before going out, to put yourself in gear and accelerate out of the world of work into a night of hedonism. 
Outstripping the slew of bands emerging from Brooklyn at the same time, !!! recently released their fourth album Strange Weather, Isn't It? on Warp. Recording of the album was overshadowed by the tragic death of former drummer Jerry Fuchs, who fell down an elevator shaft in Brooklyn whilst attending a charity event.
Recorded in between Berlin, New York and Sacramento, the new record features a subtle change of sound and difference of texture than previous !!! offerings. It's a more mature and perhaps chilled sound, but the relentless driving hits are still there. Whilst nothing on the record gets quite as high as early track Intensify's rapturous crescendo in gospel hand claps, The Hammer's 'Don't Stop' clarion call to endless ego-shattering groove riding is both a fitting epithet to the record and an indication that the band aren't going to let off any time soon. Don't Panic talked to vocalist Nic Offer about the new LP, how they've changed over the years and the group's favourite bands today.
The LP was recorded in between New York, Sacremento and Berlin. What were the atmosphere's like in each city, how did they differ and how did they effect the writing and record of the album?
Well, Sacramento was where we grew up, so it's a very comfortable, casual vibe there that's easy to feel relaxed and work in. New York is where most of us live now, and I mean, it's NY right? Berlin was laid back and casual like California, but jumping and happening at night like New York, more so in fact. We were going to clubs every night, and that's not really what you do in a place like Sacramento. It has different effects.
You've said this is your Berlin record. What's your favourite Berlin record and what is it about the city that inspires music with such dark energy?
The Idiot by Iggy Pop is hands down my favourite Berlin record. To tell you the truth I still don't know why Berlin inspires such dark energy. It was one of the things we went there to discover. Will we make a darker record if we go to Berlin? Jump Back was written there and is definitely one of the darker ones, but we finished Jamie there, started Judas and both of those don't sound so dark. I don't know, we may go back to continue the investigation.
What was your set up like in Berlin?
We were in the basement of the club Festaal. We were all mic-ed up and could jam straight to a computer which recorded it all on Logic. We could play at all hours of the day and night, just not during soundcheck for the bands upstairs.
Have you ever thought about recording in London? Is there somewhere else in the world that you'd like to set up in to write/record, somewhere you'd like to go to for inspiration?
London's about three times as expensive as Berlin and your clubs close about 12 hours earlier. So... no. We like Argentina.
How do you feel your music has changed over the years?
Um... that's a biggie, kind of broad, don't you think. I think one of the most interesting things is how fast and how much of it we're all consuming now. I get a new favourite album a week.
What were the inspirations behind this record? What're the bands or records you've discovered recently that have shaped the sonic palate of !!!?
Me and Paul were listening to Sir Victor Uwaifo a lot in Berlin. Bill Withers, M. Ward, The Mole, Isolee, and for some reason we kept listening to that song Flesh For Fantasy by Billy Idol. Oh wait, I remember why, cuz it's fucking awesome.

How have the personnel changes, the tragic death of Jerry Fuchs or John Pugh pursuing Free Blood for example, impacted on the group and the sound?
All the changes in the lineup made us look at the band with a fresh perspective. That's all you can do.

I understand that the recording process, working with producer Eric Broucek, was a bit of a synth-MacGyver battlezone. Any particularly volatile moments in that process that had a dramatic effect on the LP?
I remember fighting about the drum machine in The Most Certain Sure. Eric thought it sounded too modern or digital or something, and we were kind of fighting back and forth about it. Finally to appease us, he ran it through some sort of phaser or something and we all were instantly excited. All bad vibes instantly vanished and it's pretty much as you hear it on the record.
Where did the collaboration with Black Dice for the AM/FM video come from?
Sitting around with Bjorn and listening to him complain about being broke whilst showing us the awesome videos he was working on. It was kind of a no-brainer, we just said why don't you make some cash and do a video for us.
Have you picked you tour-bus songs yet? Who are the five bands that you'd recommend to anyone right now?
Tame Impala, Conforce, The Mole, Mr. G, !!!.

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