What’s in a name?

!!! brings the beat to Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre

 By Zach Rogers

Photo: Disco-funk icons !!! perform at Taft Theatre in Cincinnati on Dec. 10

Over the years, the band known as !!! – Chk Chk Chk, or really any monosyllabic word or sound you want to put in there – have gone from a group of young dance-punk pioneers to the kings of modern-day disco-funk. More importantly, however, it’s a band that always knows exactly how to get a crowd on its feet. Fresh off the heels of their fifth full-length album Thr!!!er, !!! seems to be on top of the world right now, a place where dancing ensues at all hours of the day.

On Tuesday, Dec. 10, the band will play at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, where the sounds will overwhelm the body and get the groove going in places you didn’t even think the groove existed.

Formed in 1996, their longevity isn’t necessarily a surprise, but the fact that they haven’t lost their edge during their 17-year run is.

“I always used to think I’d want to bow out gracefully,” said Nic Offer, who provides vocals and terrific dancing for the group live. “But it’s still a lot of fun, and I don’t know why I’d want to do anything else. We’re still having a good time!”

!!! began in Sacramento, Calif., trading in sunshine for dance beats. Their infectious sound translated well, and the group released a string of acclaimed singles, EPs and albums throughout the 2000s. After 2010’s Strange Weather, Isn’t It?, longtime member Tyler Pope parted ways with the group and bassist Rafael Cohen and drummer Paul Quattrone stepped in. They rounded out the current lineup that includes Offer on vocals, Mario Andreoni on guitar, and multi-instrumentalists Dan Gorman and Allan Wilson. With things back on the right track, the group came back with a vengeance on this year’s Thr!!!er, an album that ranks right up there with some of their best work to date.

“It felt like the band was in a really good place,” said Offer on recording the album. “I think everyone was committed to moving forward and finding new sounds.”

Those new sounds come through in songs like “Fine Fine Fine” and “Even When the Water’s Cold,” and along with dance-worthy tracks like “Get That Rhythm Right,” “One Girl/One Boy” and “Slyd,” the album just might take the cake as the greatest thing they’ve ever done. Production was handled by Spoon’s Jim Eno, who helped !!! find an outlet for all of their newfound ambition.

“We were going through a really exciting period at the time, and it felt really open for us,” Offer explained. “We had a blast in the studio, and after doing this last one I realized that the best records I’ve ever done have been centered around a fun environment, and this was definitely a fun record to make.”

Extensive touring has taken up the majority of 2013 for the group, but they’ve finally gotten a chance to share the new songs with an array of devoted fans. The fun times shine through in the video for “Californiyeah,” which was shot while on tour in Japan. Brief glimpses of the band performing live are intertwined with shots of the band goofing around in an elevator and out in the streets in Japan. At one point, there’s even a cameo by some hotel rent-a-cops who wanted to see what all the fuss was about. But even a bust like that, which was entirely real, can’t seem to stop them.

“That was probably the most fun we’d had making a music video,” said Offer. “We just had our sound guy shoot it and did it all in like two hours, and to us it’s just as good as any kind of big budget video.”

And to think, over a decade and a half later, the band finally arrived at perhaps the best stage of their career. They’re a band that can come together and make songs that are both fun and incredibly good, and they do it with a purpose to give people not what they want, but what they need.

“It’s crazy to think about,” Offer said of the band’s staying power. “I mean, I don’t even plan six months ahead, let alone 17 years, but in a way I think we’ve always felt like we were doing what we dreamed of doing.”

After the tour, !!! plans on heading back into the studio to begin work on new material.

“We’re actually in the midst of writing and working on some new stuff right now,” said Offer, “and we might start playing some of it live just so we can get it a little more developed before we take it to the studio. But yeah, we definitely want to head back there at some point next year and from there we’ll just see where that takes us.”

!!! will perform on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at the Taft Theatre, 317 East 5th St. in Cincinnati. Also on the bill is Yip Deceiver. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8:30 p.m. For more information, please visit chkchkchk.net. 


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