There aren’t many bands that can whip a tired Sunday afternoon festival crowd into a throbbing mass of pheromones and adrenaline, but NYC by way of Sacramento gents !!! did exactly that at ATP The Fans Strike Back this May, and will undoubtedly wreak the same sexual wrath next Tuesday (7th) when they play Camden’s Electric Ballroom. Over email, exuberant frontman Nic Offer discussed a refreshing devil may care attitude to money, being grabbed in the biscuits, and whether the Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act has taken any ostensible hit on the scene…
Paul bought me a massage during Spiritualized and it was worth every pound he paid for it. The Jesus Lizard was for dickheads with clean rooms, but I bet David Yow’s room is dirty. The only time I ever heard Sleep was years ago on an acid trip and they were not quite as slow as they seemed then, but just as amazing. Killing Joke was kinda funny.
Considering that you formed to play an all-night party in Sacramento, it wouldn’t appear that you’ve changed your live approach that much – do you miss the debauchery of those more intimate settings in comparison to sanitized venues?
We bring the debauchery. I never noticed it was gone.
Do your parents ever come to watch you play? What do they make of your shows?
The first time my mom watched us, I thought she left early but finally at the end of the show I spotted her, she had made her way to the front and was dancing. I just tracked my dad for a vocal part on the new record yesterday. It was a part only he could sing, you’ll have to wait for the record to find out why that is.
Is !!! a full time job for you all? What were your last jobs?
I was a babysitter, or as they’re called in NY, a “manny”. Most of us still have real jobs, but I don’t ‘cuz I think spending money is tiresome and I need to save my energy for the stage.
It’s been two years since ‘Myth Takes’ – how far are you into the next record? Do you know where you’ll be recording it?
1/3 in Berlin, 1/3 in Sacramento, 1/3 in NY. I have no idea how finished it is. Pretty finished, but not totally. More finished than it was yesterday, how’s that?
Have you managed to perfect a method of cross-country collaboration yet, or does putting the record together still take its time?
We don’t perfect.
I heard you use audience response to determine the future of new songs – have you had to change anything based on their reactions so far?
Response has been good, and yes, there was one part that wasn’t slammin’ enough and you could feel the audience want more, so we slammed it up.
From the fairly cheap crude recording origins of ‘Myth Takes’, has its success given you more money to spend on recording, or is that primitive recording process something you’re keen to retain?
Success has not given us anything that we can count.
You said previously that after ‘Louden Up Now’, the criticisms spurred you onto your next record, but ‘Myth Takes’ was acclaimed pretty much across the board. Have you felt any pressure in writing its follow-up?
Myth Takes was slammed pretty much across the board in England, what board do you read? (Metacritic, which puts it at a pretty solid 8.1)
You have such a vast frame of reference, from James Brown to Sonic Youth. Before you start making a record, do you actively spend time with the kind of records that influence you?
Kinda. I always consider that what I’m listening to may end up an influence and I try to have a broad palette subsequently. Did you ever hear about the record Peter Murphy [of Bauhaus] made after a year of listening to no music but his own? It still sounded like David Bowie, bless his heart.
What are you all listening to at the moment?
Tones on Tail [Bauhaus side project].
You once said in an interview that you hoped African music would become the new hip thing. What did you make of the supposed Afrobeat phenomenon last year, with everyone from Vampire Weekend to Franz Ferdinand appropriating it? And which records would you recommend as starting points for people unfamiliar with the real genre, as opposed to Urban Outfitters’ appropriation?
I think it was as refreshing as I had hoped, though not quite a musical revolution. I mean, Vampire Weekend caught a lot of hype, then flack, but I thought they were kind of fresh. They sound a bit like a Shins record or something, but without the African influence it would have been rather bland, now wouldn’t it have? I’m hoping they got just enough flack to scare them into making an even better record. They’ve got a great pop sense and I’d like to see them go even deeper. I think the Golden Afrique compilations are pretty great, especially Vol. 1. My summer jam is “Sweet Music” by Dizzy K. “Excuse Me Baby” might be easier to find. He kinda sounds like a Nigerian Ariel Pink, not just ‘cuz of the reverb on his vocals, but the freeform cheesy ‘80s sense of melody as well.
Pitchfork remarked that the abandon of Nic’s behaviour makes people forget themselves in the crowd, and totally let loose. Have there ever been situations jumping into the crowd where someone’s tried to get a little too fruity, or does anything fly?
There’s always that one girl who grabs me in the biscuits and is surprised to find out the yeast hasn’t risen. But that’s fine, if you feel can do that, do it. If you feel like doing something else, do it.
Considering the craziness of your gigs, much like people thinking actors are their characters, do you find that people expect you to be wired all the time?
Yeah, sometimes I feel like I’m disappointing people when I’m mellow. Like Iggy doesn’t read a book sometimes?
Do you ever consider changing your name? Does it ever get to the point where you want to make up a new story about its origin?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Actually, no to the first question, but the record company does. Wait a minute, they did.
The ‘Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act’ has seen a number of New York clubs shut down in the past couple of years, for seemingly tenuous links with drugs – selling water at large prices, or even glow sticks. Particularly given that as a bill it was sponsored by Biden, who’s now VP, has there been much of a noticeable influence on the scene?
I don’t look as often as I used to, but last time I needed it, I found it. But drugs like that have always been more underground in the States compared to the UK and Europe.
Finally – were there any legal repercussions of throwing the piano into the river?