!!! (Chk Chk Chk ): Keepin' Dance Weird

By: Chris Pacifico

In June of last year during our interview with !!! (pronounced: chk chk chk) guitarist Mario Andreoni and singer Nic Offer were able to accurately count their eggs before they hatched, speaking in brash detail about their yet to be released next album: the jarring hullabaloo of an opus Myth Takes (released 3/6/07 on Warp Records).

"On this album, we're paying a lot more attention to shaking things up and having a lot more variety," Andreoni steadfastly affirmed. "We're really trying to make it, for lack of a better term, psychedelic. And it just grooves in a different way. There are some songs that are more danceable than anything we've ever done but also more pop then we've ever done".

Offer interrupts him from out of leftfield and fervently states, "It's more slamming. It's more everything. There's been a picture in our head that we're trying to get and we've just nailed it down more. When you listen to it, you'll be able to tell that there's been more communication within the band, and that's what's brought out more of everything. It's brought out more heart, more soul, more funk, more experimenting!"

Offer speaks in a raised voice partly due to the music and partying that was going on around us in the VIP section at Transit in Philadelphia. His tone was loud and impassioned like a late night home shopping channel spokesman peddling baseball cards, swords and coin collections.

Eleven months later, I told them they were indeed men of their words. At the time Offer couldn't quite put his finger on that picture in his head but described it as "funky strange music." "I guess I always described it like that and what turns us on is funky strange records because it totally trips me out," enthuses Offer.

As for Andreoni, the album delivered on a vision for a song influenced by Traffic called "A New Name," a dub and chime laced ditty that intermingles with minimal, shivery jazz tensions and a Winwood-like falsetto in the chorus.

Myth Takes is a band not riding the coattails of their previous release (2004's breakout phenom Louden Up Now) but instead has the hardest band to Google starting and ending the record with placid tracks (the Krautrockish title cut and the gorgeously woozy Eno-like "Infinifold") which serve as bookends to the boom-chika-boom sandwiched in between. !!! is a Godzilla of funk, leveling everything in its path, dropping subliminal mantras, a booming sonic soiree, a titan whose message impertinently translates into something along the lines of, "I'm going to dance all over your face and there's not a fucking thing that you can do about it."

"We wanted it to kind of take the listener in. When I was a kid I started listening to story tapes" explains Offer. "The next thing I started listening to was music tapes, so, to me, all albums were a story anyways."

Whatever that story is, it's not transparent. Bassist Justin Van Der Volgen sat in the producer's chair for Myth Takes and eased up on the polishing and gave the songs a somewhat lo-fi, gritty coating. The record is sprawling and bustling like a designer drug-fueled night of seedy club hopping in the five boroughs.

[The] fine line between becoming a legend and becoming a total mistake... It seems like you just always end up down the line like a douche bag.

- Offer on Myth Takes title track

Nic Offer & John Pugh by Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Offer ascribes the stellar strength of the album to his bandmates, who all came together creatively on this one. "When we were together jamming a lot we were really focused on trying to work out things for the record," says Offer. "When we were separate, we were always toying with new ideas and passing them off to each other. [Myth Takes] was created in a different way versus just being in the same place and just kind of relying on jamming and hopefully something coming out of that."

Nic Offer - !!! by Rob Walbers
Thinking man's dance music is what comes to mind with Myth Takes, which brandishes the deeper side of Offer's lyrical curveballs. The title track is full of sassiness like:

Shoulda told me the world was gonna tie me back a sweater
Poets from the days of old have never said it better
Sometimes it really glitters and sometimes it's even gold
Baby when it isn't then it must be rock & roll
And a sha, sha, sha sha sha doobie
Sometimes it's really just like the movies

"I tried to make it something more personal so it's more of yourself in it yet more ambiguous so that everyone could kind of like find themselves in it," Offer says. On the album's title, Offer says it stems from the "fine line between becoming a legend and becoming a total mistake, which is kind of what it seems like is the eternal damnation of rock & roll. It seems like you just always end up down the line like a douche bag."

With the incredibly long, draining touring schedule !!! maintains and the sheer physical stamina they pack into their always bombastic concerts, Offer attributes their live prowess to mixing up setlists as much as they can and the good ol' fashioned aesthetic of "giving it your all." "You can be brain dead and bitchy at sound check but you just pour everything you do into that [set] and there just should be no excuses," explains Offer. "You give it your all. I've played on fucking no sleep, totally hung over, but somehow you're always able to pull it out."

!!! casts a spell over even the most blasé concertgoers, causing them to tear a hole in the floor.

"People always come up to us and say, 'No one ever dances at shows and you made them dance.' Whatever town we're in it's always like that," giggles Offer. "We play better if the audience is giving us something. I don't know what it is. It's kind of a two-way thing. It's somehow reciprocal. Whenever the audience has been fantastic we've almost never sucked. If the audience does suck, we're not going to definitely suck but there's more of a chance of it happening."

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sunnbear Thu 6/21/2007 08:48AM
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zachbosin starstarstarstar Thu 6/21/2007 09:16AM
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I saw !!! at the 9:30 in DC and they blew my mind. The heavily danceable funk exploded from the speakers as Nic Offer literally climbed through the rafters. This was a show not to be missed and I guarantee that anyone that takes !!! for a ride will not be disappointed.

nuke_ticketbastard starstarstarstar Thu 6/21/2007 09:18AM
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sounds like fun , tastes like chicken

nikolaivaluev Thu 6/21/2007 09:43AM
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MutilatedLips starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/21/2007 11:14AM
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These guyz are mad funky! I listened the hell out of Louden up Now, and Im really lookin' forward to their new shit.

catphish007 Thu 6/21/2007 02:33PM
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This album is ok, not that great. Why doesnt jambase just have a link to pitchforkmedia.com since thats where half of their indie article ideas are from? I am all for new music,(though this album has been out for awhile) thats why I go to non-jamband websites if I want to dive into the hipster world.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 6/21/2007 02:49PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy


That sounds like something that someone with Phish in their name would say. Jambase is not Pitchfork. You only reinforce the stereotype that hippies and "phans" are mad close minded. If Jambase wanted to be like Pitchfork, they would be touting the every band on the DFA label and whatever bandwagon bands that all the residents of the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn flock to. Not to mention Jambase is not only a Jamband site. If a band goes on stage and happens to plug in their instruments then they are "jamming". The motto is "Go See Live Music" not "Go See Live Jambands". Get a clue. Yer preachin' to the choir.

But speaking of Jam phans, I don't see what there isn't to like about !!!, they are funky (phans like funkiness the last time I checked) and groovy (don't you like groovy?) and chock full of good vibes that make people dance. They belong on Jambase. Jambase is a place for all music. Yer preachin' to the choir. After, !!! is a band who opened up for the old, greedy, adult comtempo, now reduced to an utter pile of crap band known as the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Europe and made total assholes of them just in the sheer force of thier 45 minute opening set. Any band that can do that deserves a spot on Jambase. Get a clue, Phish is gone and never coming back and the String Cheese Incident is all but hanging by a thread becasue of bill Nershi's wife who makes him do whatever she says with his tail between his legs. Music is changing every day. Open your ears and your mind.

privtone Thu 6/21/2007 03:18PM
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boom buddy, boom!

gmoo Thu 6/21/2007 03:31PM
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I think I like Dermatitis better haha. But seriously does this band jam or do they play the same set? This is important to know. If they don't jam, that's fine, but I'll just get a recording rather than spend my limited collegiate $$$. Jam or not, music is music.

ganjjjj star Thu 6/21/2007 03:53PM
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fetuccini, do you work with jambase? I think a lot of jam fans are into more complex music, think MMW, Bad Plus, Pnuma Trio, except maybe some groups that we HAVENT HEARD OF. This means maybe throw in a few (gasp) unsigned bands once in a while. I hope the editors hear this because it could probably help your site out a lot. I know more than a few people who are still seeking an alternate outlet that provides information about real musicians rather than danceable pop.

Danceable pop is a dime a dozen, and thats not what people liked about the Dead or Phish, or what people like about MMW, Bad Plus, etc, they appreciate the technical skill, and innovation, and with a really good improvisational group each show is a totally different and enjoyable experience.

It seems to me like a big part of a good live experience is seeing a different show every time, seeing different takes on songs and seeing where improvisation can lead. Why "go see live music" if you're always gonna see the same show? Why not just listen to the album?

A lot of the bands jamBase has been covering lately have been bands that don't really have much of a live show, especially when compared to the groups that founded the whole jambase genre.

Its not being close minded, its just having high standards.

So there you have it, to all the people who mod down the complainers and to all the people who defend them. While they are often annoying poor spellers they do have a point. It's hard not to get mad when you see trash getting exposure when you're used to hearing such good music that people have worked so hard to make.

People who are into jambands are into improvisation and innovation. Know your audience and change your articles or don't bitch about people not liking your content!

ok thats my rant for this month kids :-P

shanky95 starstarstarstar Thu 6/21/2007 04:08PM
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Well said... bravo. What's better? Politely accepting all the un-original mainstream bullshit and liking things you are told to like, or making a musical choice for yourself and having an opinion?

Tan starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/21/2007 06:12PM
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This band is sick.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 6/21/2007 06:13PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy


I don't argee entirely with what you said but I respect how you made your point in a manner that broke everything down with a grain of salt. While I don't entierly agree that Pnuma Trio is nothing to write home to mom about, MMW, and Bad Plus do put on a goos show.

However, have you ever seen !!! live in concert? Because if you did, you would know that their set is as technically innovative as any other good live band out there. !!! isn't just "dance pop" which like you said comes a dime a dozen, their live shows emit the true power of dance and how the music is completely original and funky and like Antibalas (while they don't exactly sound like Antibalas) it is the power of dance that sweeps up just about everybody in the room and there is a unison among the crowd and band where nothing else matters but moving your body and letting it all out and feeling liberated giving everybody a feeling that no drug can create. It's all about that!! Go see !!! live and you'll know what me and everybody else whose seen them is talking about. It's about how booming rhythms can bring the ultimate bliss kinda like what Mickey Hart has always been saying for the past generation.

onthemoon Fri 6/22/2007 10:29AM
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their name is just retarded

mcarroll starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/22/2007 10:43AM
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Here is what I would like to see more of in the comments section: If you don't like a band, by all means, feel free to voice your opinion. But, if you are going to do that, at least indicate that you have heard the band's music or seen them live and didn't like it. Too often people rip apart bands without even indicating that they have ever even heard them before. So, like I said, if you don't like a band, that is obviously your right, but please at least indicate you've heard them before. Back up your opinion with some sort of experience, otherwise you will just be seen as someone who is talking shit about a band they've never heard (whether you have or not), which is the definition of closed minded. By the way, I really like !!!'s new album, but have yet to see them live.

catphish007 Fri 6/22/2007 11:22AM
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Dear Sweet Daddy Douceinni- quote "That sounds like something that someone with Phish in their name would say." That is a retarded comment that doesnt make any since. Can you rephrase that in English for everyone? You need some vitamins because your brain is fried! First off, I never said anything bad about their music. Did you read my post? I merely said this album is ok and not that great. If you like danceable music, try the futureheads or rapture, they are better in my opinion. and then I continue with how I am all for new music,but I go to other websites like pitchfork and and donewaiting to read up on music. I go there because they actually have articles to let you know of a band BEFORE they release cd's and go on tour. Jambase is always the last to post articles that people discussed like five months ago. All I am saying is that jambase is a day late and a dollar short when it comes to originality and promptness of current live bands and cd releases. There are so many local jambands out there putting out great music but jambase never talks about them until the make it "big" by playing at some stupid corporate sponsored festival. You are the one preaching to the choir. I do have a college degree in music education so you dont have to preach to me about anyting. Personally, I am tired of most of the unoriginal jambands and their scenes.

SaveTheRobots Fri 6/22/2007 12:25PM
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I love the way Nic Offer dances on stage

garriswh star Fri 6/22/2007 12:58PM
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Myth Takes is a joke compared to their first album. Definitely dont recommend wasting your money on the newer album.

cuttyfives Fri 6/22/2007 05:48PM
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Pnuma Trio? They suck my balls dude...

cuttyfives Fri 6/22/2007 05:50PM
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Pnuma Trio? They suck my balls dude...

mreezal Sat 6/23/2007 12:32PM
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guitardave star Mon 6/25/2007 07:06AM
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I have always abided by the old axiom "don't judge a book by its cover".

However, judging by their shirtless, greasepaint promo pic, the cover of this book reads "Fudgeville!"

gmoo Mon 6/25/2007 01:46PM
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Uh, Pnuma Trio def doesn't suck...duuude.

mrkrinkle6884 starstarstar Mon 6/25/2007 03:59PM
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Having seen Pnuma several times. They do not jam either so....
They are just like every other cookie cutter techno trance jam band out there now. But thats MY opinion I guess. Give "Se Dice Bisonte, No Bufalo" a listen... now that is one of this years best jamming CDs. Although it was produced in a semi-studio usually Omar's house or on his tour bus.

roberto767 Mon 6/25/2007 09:18PM
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As I recall...the Phish cover of Rollingstone was rather "fudgeville" as well. So you can't really knock 'em for their photos. I've never heard the guys though, so....

Hagermeister starstarstarstar Tue 6/26/2007 08:36AM
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I just saw these guys Friday at Glastonbury so I am going to throw my opinion in there. It was insanely muddy at that festival and I was wearing Wellington boots weighed down by what felt like several pounds of muck but I still danced my ass off to these guys. They were phenomenal. Its aggressive, its funky, it does indeed "dance all over your fucking face." Theres a real darkness and a punk attitude driving the performance, its not just cookie cutter dance pop and anyone dismissing them as such would be sadly missing out. !!! indeed, because really what can you say to describe these guys? Its just like a bombastic scream from the stage. And it will throttle your dancing shoes to nothing (even if they are mud covered Wellingtons).

guitardave star Tue 6/26/2007 09:11AM
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Yeah great. I heard they are headlining "Fudge-a-palooza"

mcarroll Tue 6/26/2007 09:47AM
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Your comments are something my nephew would come up with. I hope you're not older than 10, guitardave.

roberto767 Tue 6/26/2007 04:58PM
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mcarroll Wed 6/27/2007 10:03AM
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Ooh, he's going to have to work on some new material, then. Those jokes just aren't going to kill like they did with the 8 and 9 year-old crowd.

guitardave star Wed 6/27/2007 12:45PM
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Leave your girlfriends out of this, mccarroll.

As far as roberto767 is concerned the "Indiana Jones" pic just reeks of maturity. It was probably a toss-up between that and the X-Men.

mcarroll Wed 6/27/2007 01:09PM
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See, that first line was funny. All you needed was a little prodding to step your game up. Now we just need to work on your homophobia.

guitardave star Thu 6/28/2007 10:39AM
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I only suffer from vamp-a-phobia. Fear of bands that play one chord for 12 minutes straight, and then have the audacity to give it an actual song title.

mcarroll Thu 6/28/2007 03:49PM
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Really? You gave a one star rating because 'the cover of this book reads "Fudgeville!"', which translates to "I don't like them because I think they look gay." What other conclusion could I have possibly drawn from that comment? Face it. You have two phobias.

guitardave starstarstarstarstar Thu 7/5/2007 08:01AM
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If that was true I wouldn't listen to David Bowie, T. Rex, The New York Dolls, and Queen all of whom practically invented androgyny. You should see some of those album covers. The difference between them and these clowns is that there is actual great music on the effing records.

petemora starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/6/2007 07:12AM
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Did anyone stop to think that there may be readers and posters (like the guy in the hat)on this thread who might have an alternative lifestyle? Lets show some tolerance people.

benny20 starstarstarstar Fri 7/6/2007 01:32PM
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do you mean the guy in the hat who is getting head from some other dude? now I'm offended.

lvcheese Sat 7/7/2007 01:09PM
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CUTTYFIVES SUCKS A FAT DICK!!!! You like the schwag dude. Get off this website. How do u like the schwag and hate pnuma trio??? Your an idiot.

petemora starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/10/2007 06:23AM
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Yeah, how could anyone hate Puma? They make the hippest suede sneakers ever. I had the blue ones.