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.
Nic Offer & John Pugh by Jim Dyson/Getty Images
[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
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."
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:
Nic Offer - !!! by Rob Walbers
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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