Izyan Liyana spoke to the wild-spirited yet uncannily charismatic lead vocalist of Sacramento dance punk band !!! (Chk Chk Chk) Nic Offer, on why they veered off from the common musical notion, long-year journey with the band, noteable live performances under their belts and why they wanted to destroy the record industry before gracing our Malaysian shore for Good Vibes Festival 2014.
1) I’m sure you’ve been asked this a million times but I need to know, what’s up with the exceedingly sporadic name, !!! (Chk Chk Chk)?
(laughs) Well, it’s a question I’ve answered many times over the last 17 years, I always make sense to answer it when you haven’t been to a country before. Well when we started the band, we felt like we were doing a new kind of music, we felt like we’re different from all other bands and we wanted something that set us apart that we were different somehow.
2) Can you point out some major changes that you’ve witnessed in terms of musical style/trend since the band’s formation in the 90s?
Yeah, I mean it’s been kind of fascinating to watch the way things change and now, when new style comes, you can tell how long they’re going to last and you can see which one will have a big effect. I always find it exciting to see now all these things come and go and to see us do something that would make us curious, you know.. It was the sound that we love and to see it became part of another trend that happened – it was kind of fascinating. It’s just fun that it’s all completely different. Everything bad is different. I was doing an interview today earlier and I was talking about how when we started, all my friends, we kind of wanted to destroy the record industry and later on the record industry destroyed itself and all my friends were kind of like, “wait a minute” you know, like it was a surprise to us. But I mean to me, the whole thing has been exciting and I honestly think it’s been for the better you know, now everyone has so much music, so much access, that’s all I ever wanted when I was a kid, like my dream was to be able to go to a record store and win a contest to just pull all the records off the shelves I wanted in like 20 minutes or something; and now you can do that!
3) You’ve caused a real stir when it comes to your high-energy live performances. How do you keep the energy going for 17 years now?
I don’t know, it’s just like a promise that we have to ourselves. It’s like when you’re up there you have the audiences’ attention and you can’t be wasting their time you know, and we really try every single show to give the best show that we can. I don’t know what it is because sometimes I feel like other bands when they’re having a bad night, they’re not really trying. Not that we don’t have bad nights, even during our worst nights sometimes, we try the hardest you know. I mean, I don’t know why everybody doesn’t try that hard and for us it’s just been, if we’re still going to be there we feel like the need to be a point of us being there.
4) Cool. Do you feel like your live performances are different than what your fans can expect from your records?
Yeah, the live show is definitely different; I mean most people say that our live show is even better.
5) What was the most eccentric live performance/party you’ve performed at?
I just remembered this weird show where one time we played behind a fire and it was in the backyard in North Carolina and somebody got on stage and rapped with us. But it wasn’t even a stage; we were literally playing behind a fire. We have played a lot in strange places I guess but that one sticks in my mind.
6) Some would say that your Thr!!!er album isn’t so much of “dance punk” as compared to the previous albums you’ve made in the past. What called for the change?
I feel like each record has kind of made sense as following the other. I don’t feel like you can take the record out of order if you put the fourth one and like place it in the second one; it would seem out of order. But I think each record makes sense after the other one. I think that any bands that have been around for that long if they were going to be any good, they’re going to change, you know. Very few bands that can last that long with the same exact sound but every band that has a career that long has to evolve and I think that’s how you make good records; is that you’re exploring in discovering new areas of creativity.
7) How would you define the sound in Thr!!!er then, is it still dance punk?
We tried to make club music but I feel the whole time we’ve been trying to make club music as a band – so we can’t do it. Maybe in the earlier records we were more excited by Sonic Youth and Talking Heads and maybe this time we’re listening to more German dance music or something. I guess that’s the difference. But I think at the same time, we’re trying to get better at writing songs so it’s like we’re trying to combine classic songwriting with futuristic techno or something.
8) You’re soon to be playing your first ever show in Malaysia. Is there anything in particular about the prospect of coming to this shore that excites you?
We’re just always excited to visit new countries in general but we’re always excited to come to an area where people haven’t seen us before and to finally meet people who’ve wanted to see you for 15 years and now they’re finally seeing you… So we’re excited about that!
That’s great. Thank you very much Nic!