Turntable Interview: !!!
On their new album THR!!!ER, NYC electro-pop dance impresarios !!! (or, Chk Chk Chk) worked with producer Jim Eno of Spoon, who encouraged the group to make an “album,” instead of a series of dancefloor-worthy singles. The effort worked out well for the group and the new album is flat-out, wall-to-wall fun. We jumped on Turntable.fm to talk to Nic Offer to talk about the new album, his West African voyage, and why you should always travel with a transistor radio.
A quick peek behind-the-curtain of this interview: Unbeknownst to me, an old friend of mine was staying with Nic and ended up in the room with him during the interview, fact-checking via text messages, sending photos of Nic at his laptop, and encouraging Nic to ask me questions about Kylie Minogue. It was distracting, hilarious, and seemed strangely appropriate for this interview with a band that never seems to take themselves too seriously while making some of the seriously best dance music around.
!!!: Hey. I am actually sitting here with Josh. He says u don’t like Kylie Minogue
STEREOGUM: UGH It took me two days to get that song out of my head. Goddammit.
!!!: Mission accomplished for kylie
Melissa Locker started playing “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” by Kylie Minogue
STEREOGUM: Now we can all enjoy Kylie
!!!: Yr fucked for the next couple a days
STEREOGUM: Nic, can you tell Josh to make like a Michael Jackson reference and Beat It, please?
!!!: Might be a harder mission to accomplish. Soooooo what sort of thing would u like to hear from me?
STEREOGUM: Put whatever songs you want in your queue. It’s very free form.
Nic Offer started playing “Down the Line (It Takes a Number)” by Romare
STEREOGUM: Anyway, welcome to the Turntable Interview
!!!: Josh is here to see the cats. They have a thing for him. He’s being licked extensively right now
STEREOGUM: Cat nip body spray
!!!: Yeah, we can quit talking about him and start talking about moi anytime now.
STEREOGUM: You started it . So Nic, how is your Good Friday?
Is it Good or just good?
!!!: Oh geez, is it? My mom used to make us stay inside from 12-3 on Good Friday. She would not approve of me doing this interview right now. Great.
STEREOGUM: Why from 12-3?
!!!: That’s when Jesus was drying out on the cross apparently.
STEREOGUM: Oh. Was that on Eastern Standard Time?
Melissa Locker started playing “Mexican Radio” by Polvo
!!!: Western. I grew up in Cali. Wow. I just told a mean anecdote about Polvo onstage a couple weeks ago.
STEREOGUM: Please tell it now! I live for mean anecdotes
!!!: We played at great American music hall and I remembered the time I went to see Thinking Fellers and they were opening for Polvo. Polvo came on and I hated them, and I wanted to leave but couldn’t find my friends and it was like a nightmare cuz Polvo sucked so bad and I just wanted to leave. So I said I know there’s somebody out there who just came to see white arrows and now we’re onstage and they think we suck and they just wanna l.eave but they can’t find their friends. So to that person out there, I’m sorry I feel ya
Nic Offer started playing “Um Canto de Afoxé Para O Bloco do Ilê (Ilê Ayê)” by Caetano Veloso
!!!: The point was it at great American music hall. I’ve always wondered if I should go back and investigate them, but that cover didn’t really change my mind about them.
STEREOGUM: There are definitely better Polvo songs, but it was kind of random it was on my queue as I never listened to them very much and was curious about them.
Melissa Locker started playing “April Skies” by The Jesus And Mary Chain
STEREOGUM: So it was actually fairly random that it was on the queue. That said, your band seems kinda hard to hate. I mean you are the original party starters! When you told that story did people laugh or leave?
!!!: I’m sure there’ll be some who disagree down below in the comments section. HI HATERS!
STEREOGUM: Who reads comments?
!!!: Drummer’s mothers
STEREOGUM: Ha! Have you ever written something really mean anonymously?
!!!: Absolutely not. I refuse to play that game.
STEREOGUM: Jesus and Mary Chain was the first concert I ever went to. What was yours?
!!!: Mine was Depeche Mode with OMD. I sat next to the fat one once on the airplane. Felt bad cuz he was in coach. His gf was very young and very Brazilian.
STEREOGUM: Which one is the fat one?
Nic Offer started playing “Drummers Drama” by Butch
!!!: The not the singer one. Of J&M chain. ain’t nobody fat in depeche mode.
STEREOGUM: Oh the fat member of J & M! Right.
[Ed. Note: This is where Nic told a story that had to be redacted. Sorry! Take it up with Congress.]
STEREOGUM: Wow. I don’t even know what to say to that except that I hope women across the land read this and never ever kiss him. Ever. What did you say to that?
!!!: Maybe we should translate to Portuguese as well.
STEREOGUM: Good point.
!!!: I told I’d done it before and it was no big deal. I told him I’d [REDACTED] his but he wasn’t into it.
STEREOGUM: Ha! So …gracefully changing topics now. Depeche Mode and OMD as your first concert is interesting, because your band is pretty electro-pop. Think they influenced you?
!!!: Absolutely. I didn’t really get into the whole 80s revival thing cuz it was already in me. If I never hear Blue Monday again in my life, I’ll be fine.
STEREOGUM: …off to change my song queue. What do you listen to now? I am seriously fighting the urge to play Blue Monday.
Melissa Locker started playing “Tokyo A Go-Go” by The Magnetic Fields
!!!: Mostly dance tracks. Lately a lot of hip hop. I just got back from West Africa, so a lot of West African stuff and trying to catch up on what i missed in the 90s. I love this one.
STEREOGUM: Yeah, this album is my favorite Magnetic Fields album. What were you doing in West Africa?
!!!: Trying to find myself
STEREOGUM: Did you?
!!!: Oh definitely
STEREOGUM: Where were you traveling?
!!!: Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea
STEREOGUM: Wow! How long were you gone?
!!!: A month.
Nic Offer started playing “Obuu Mo” by EL
!!!: It’s a good place to spend January.
This is one of my fav songs from down there.
STEREOGUM: And what did you discover about yourself that you couldn’t find out in NYC?
!!!: Oh, I’m being facetious, but only half so. But u can’t see something that’s so completely different than your world and not have it rearrange how u think about the world
STEREOGUM: That’s true. And as a musician it must be amazing to hear what everyone is listening to and playing there
!!!: omg yes. You don’t even know.
STEREOGUM: Tell me!
!!!: I always take a transistor radio when I go to see what’s up, and E.L was what was up.
STEREOGUM: That’s a cool idea! I never thought about traveling with a radio. Do you think your travels are going to influence your own musical output?
Nic Offer started playing “Move to Da Gyal Dem” by Donae’o
!!!: Yeah, it’s hard to say, things creep in here and there. u definitely try to find stuff that’ll push u in new directions, but then some old depeche mode idea from a song u haven’t listened to in years will creep in there. The important thing is just to always be on some kind of journey forward through music, so your taste is still changing. I want to always be as excited about new music as I was when depeche mode’s albums would come out. So far, I’ve been able to keep connecting with stuff, but u do have to look, and sometime looking takes u all the way to Africa.
STEREOGUM: Do you think your new album reflects an evolution for !!!
!!!: Oh, absolutely. It was at a really great time for me musically. I would work all day, and then stop to download new stuff. I was OBSESSED. Like I was only making beats and downloading. it was the life.
STEREOGUM: Wow! So how come you guys chose to make your own samples instead of, well, sampling?
Melissa Locker started playing “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard (Demo – San Francisco 2/71) (Previously Unissued)” by Paul Simon
!!!: We didn’t think we could afford it.
and it seemed like an interesting challenge.
STEREOGUM: I think it’s completely fascinating conceptually. Like a painter who makes a collage out of his own paintings
!!!: During the first days of sampling it was such a free for all. It was so exciting. It allowed a lot of hip hop songs on the radio to have radically different sounds cuz they were sampling completely different records.
STEREOGUM: So do you think some of that free for all vibe has left hip hop?
!!!: No not at all. Lyrics are better than ever u ain’t gonna get me on this thing complaining about the state of music. That’s not what y’all think over there at Stereogum, is it?
STEREOGUM: Ha! Not at all. You were just seemingly waxing nostalgic so I wanted to ask
!!!: nooooooooo. i love allllllll the decades.
STEREOGUM: Good we are agreed!
!!!: During this last album I was listening to like 80% contemporary music.
STEREOGUM: Adult contemporary?
!!!: I do like it grown and sexy sometimes.
Nic Offer started playing “Close To Everything (feat. George Lewis Jr.)” by Mickey Moonlight feat. George Lewis Jr.
STEREOGUM: I don’t even know what counts as adult contemporary, but it just sounds so creepy
!!!: Kenny G had good intentions.
STEREOGUM: And great hair. Is Josh Groban adult contemporary?
!!!: You haven’t said anything about one song i’ve played. u know this one?
STEREOGUM: I don’t!
!!!: But u know George Lewis jr, yeah?
STEREOGUM: The name is really familiar
!!!: Twin Shadow, hellooooo?
STEREOGUM: Oh right! Of course.
!!!: He killllllls it on this one. No one in America wrote anything about this song. right here, so awesome.
STEREOGUM: He’s generally amazing
STEREOGUM: So, your band is pretty much impossible to Google
Melissa Locker started playing “Loro on Loro” by Sexy Fi
STEREOGUM: When you were choosing names did you think about that at all?
!!!: Who gives a shit? We’ve gotten this far. I’m on stereogum, bitches!!!!!! We were started pregoogle, literally. It was not something we thought about at all. We were art punks. We didn’t give a shit. Still don’t. Did I mention I’m on Stereogum? Bitches?
STEREOGUM: You may have mentioned that
Nic Offer started playing “Down On Me” by Jeremih (feat. 50 Cent)
STEREOGUM: Ha! Your album is named Thri!!!er, which I love so much Are you guys Michael Jackson fans?
!!!: Yeah, glad u like it. Everyone told us it was great title, but we shouldn’t do it, but as soon as it was announced everyone was texting me how much they liked it.
STEREOGUM: What were they worried about? You getting sued by the Jackson estate?
!!!: Haters. They were worried about haters.
STEREOGUM: HI HATERS
!!!: but u can’t live life like that, ya know?
STEREOGUM: For sure. How long did the album take you to make? What with making your own samples and everything
Melissa Locker started playing “King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1” by Neutral Milk Hotel
!!!: We wrote it in a year, recorded in a few months, and then u have to sit around and wait for the label to say it’s ok to put out. Worked pretty fast actually. yr trying to help me out with the 90s. I appreciate that.
STEREOGUM: I’m here for you, Nic. You are heading out on tour soon, right? Europe in the spring?
Nic Offer started playing “T.H.I.N.G.” by Dexter
!!!: Yeah, can’t wait.
STEREOGUM: Hitting any festivals?
!!!: Yeah. I’m literally the guy in the band who doesn’t know this stuff. I can text paul and ask him?
STEREOGUM: Nah, I can Google you. Oh wait, no I can’t.
!!!: Yes u can. chk chk chk. The label tricked us for the best, I believe.
STEREOGUM: It is for the best, because I’ve always wanted to know how to pronounce an exclamation point. But seriously thank you!
!!!: Yeah, cool. Bye haters!