Few rock bands create great dance music — funky club-floor anthems that mix disco, house, dub, and electro atmospherics — played onstage by a six-piece combo made up of guitars, drums, keys, horns, and dueling male and female vocals. It’s the distinct glam magnetism of the dance-rock collective !!!, usually just pronounced Chk Chk Chk. The funky punk purveyors have been transforming rock halls into raves spots since 1996, led by curly haired crooner Nic Offer, who has some of the sweetest dance moves you’ll ever see onstage. !!! are currently touring behind their fourth album, the recently released Strange Weather, Isn’t It?, and transporting listeners to a fog-filled club floor for mass ass boogie, using electro R&B (“Steady As the Sidewalk Cracks”), synth goth (“Jump Back”), and psychedelic pop (“Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass”). Offer talked with us about the big tour, the dark energy that pulsates through the band's new album, and about doing an entire tour without showering. —Keith Gribbins
!!! has been touring throughout September, hitting hot spots all over North America before going to Europe and Asia. How’s the tour? It looks like you have almost more European dates than American. Is the band’s dance rock sound more popular at European clubs?
The tour’s going well. We’re all having a good time and the shows lately have been some of the best we’ve played in years. I wouldn’t say the dance rock sound was more popular necessarily, but dance music in general is more popular. We kinda hit over there right at a stale moment for dance music and it seemed like the raw punk/indie energy was exactly what they needed to freshen up. Let’s just say we spent the first half of our career teaching American indie rockers how to dance and we never had to teach them how to do anything in Europe.
Speaking of Euro club vibes, a good portion of your new record, 2010’s Strange Weather, Isn’t It?, was recorded in Berlin — Europe’s seedy club capital. Did the album find inspirations in that city’s distinct discothèque sounds?
Absolutely. Not necessarily in a superficial way. Well, maybe, I guess that’s not for me to say, but playing dance music all day, then going to clubs and dancing to music all night changes how you approach dance music when you come back to play it the next day.
You talk about a dark energy that emits from this album — nine voodoo grooves that transport listeners with strange and hypnotic rhythms — sounding like Bauhaus to LCD Soundsystem to the Stone Roses. Perhaps you can expand on this “dark energy” that courses through Strange Weather, Isn’t It?
I wish I knew why the attraction to it. It’s just where we seem to end up. I remember reading someone say that people are attracted to the dark energy because it doesn’t provide answers. It’s questioning what’s there. I’d like to think we’re still questioning.
I totally love “Steady as the Sidewalk Cracks” — it’s a classic !!! party anthem. What does the band enjoy about making danceable music?
It’s hard to explain. I haven’t really made any other kind. I was in a punk band years ago, but that kind of gave me the same cathartic release at that age. Dance music just always hits me really immediately. As much as I love other styles of music, it would probably freak me out to perform to an audience of people that didn’t dance.
The band is down to a six-piece after the departure of three members — John Pugh, Justin Vandervolgen, and Tyler Pope. Do you see the dynamic of !!! changing on this new album without your old comrades?
Each departure has kind of ushered in a new era of the band’s dynamic. The new members have given it a freshness that makes it feel like a new band at some times. We’ve been lucky enough to only bring people who have become part of the family instead of having to rely on session musician type guys.
I understand the band is strewn across the United States — New York, Portland, Sacramento, Calf. How does the group get together to write and record?
It often surprises me how easily we fall together when we jam as a group. At this point, we have been doing it for so many years that it doesn’t require a lot of discussion or explanation. We can just feel it out. We do trade files over the internet, but not as often as we probably should. We tend to work harder when we’re all together.
Tell us about your live set. For fans who haven’t attended, what is a !!! show like? I heard John Frusciante saw you on stage and asked you to tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I also once read you did an entire U.S. tour without showering.
It’s not true about doing a whole tour without showering, though it probably smelled like it to people. I mean going swimming counts, right? I can’t describe what it’s like to see us, so just go ahead and believe whatever rumors you may have heard. All I can say is we give you everything, that’s 110 percent every show.
!!!, with Fol Chen, 9 p.m., Friday at the Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $18, $16 in advance.
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