Oftentimes when we somehow stumble upon a veteran band for the first time, our first instinct is to snatch up the group's greatest hits compilation. For those unfamiliar with !!! (pronounced chk chk chk), a dance-punk outfit formed in Sacramento in 1996, don't bother looking for any kind of best-of CD.
As far as !!! frontman and lead singer Nic Offer is concerned, the band's best work is always its latest. Indeed, with each subsequent album, including last year's As If (an homage to the band's California roots and a bird flip to those who didn't care for 2013's Thr!!!er), the critical reviews are exponentially positive.
An exuberant mix of punchy indie rock, unabashed disco joy, and sleek, swaggering funk, !!! is an unbridled dance party wherever its members go. Later this month, the New York-based band will take its cheeky grooves to Gramps in Wynwood. New Times spoke with Offer about a career spent moving forward and the (posible) secret to keeping a band alive.
New Times: How often have you been to Miami? Any memorable experiences?
Nic Offer: Twice... thrice? Two or three times. Yeah, it's always a trip in Miami. I remember we had to open at Ultra festival. It was a pretty funny show for us. We were on the main stage at 1 p.m. on a Sunday. I mean, Ultra... if you went to Ultra the right way, you have no business doing anything on a Sunday at 1 p.m. I don't how many people you're supposed to be playing to on that stage, like 10,000, but there were about a hundred people there. [Laughs] But we have a strict policy of giving 110 percent every time, and I remember in Spin magazine's review of the festival, they pointed that out as one of the best moments. I was proud of that. And is there an illegal bus system down there? Like an under-the-radar bus system?
Are you talking about jitneys?
Yeah. I took a jitney bus home instead of a taxi. I had been out partying, and it was like five or six in the morning.
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You definitely got the real Miami experience with that. Speaking of Ultra, what are your thoughts on the dance culture here?
I mean, shit, I don't know it well. Obviously, Miami, I would assume, the dance culture is all out of my price range. [Laughs] I couldn't really comment on it, but it seems like a lot of people are having a really good time.
!!! has survived where so many dance punk bands haven't. What's been the key to not only sticking around but also thriving?
There are a lot of things that hold an old band down, mired in drugs and ego. I think that's why rock 'n' roll tends to be a young man's game. A lot of people just burn out on that kind of stuff. We've stayed out of harm's way with all of that. We started this band as a band of friends who would be fun to travel around the U.S. with. The idea was that everyone who was invited down to the first practice was cool. Nobody had weird trips or anything like that. We're friends — we're friends today — and we're family. And also, there were like seven or eight original members, and now we're down to three? Most bands start with four, and if most bands lose that many members, they're done. Maybe the key is just to start a bigger band. [Laughs] It might be as simple as that. All we know is we work really hard to push forward and find something new. That was our founding concept. We were stupid enough to think we could change music. We're still trying.