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!!! - Great Exclamations

Author: Cyclone
Monday, 2 June 2008
They stormed Australia last year with their disco punk-fuelled album, Myth Takes, and transformed every venue they played into a sweaty den of heat and noise. This year, !!! are back to do it all again.

For Allan Wilson, who plays sax as well as percussion, it'll be a welcome return to the road because !!! have mostly laid dormant this year. 'Shit!' he laughs. 'It's been so long since I've done an interview, too, so it's funny!'

The ensemble consolidated their cult following with the spirited Myth Takes album. !!! formed in Sacramento, California in the mid-'90s, their original desire to perform a one-off party. They still consider themselves primarily a live outfit. The irreverent !!! sculpted a sound out of discarded punk, funk, disco and acid house influences. In 2001, their eponymous (and relatively obscure) debut surfaced on the now defunct indie Gold Standard Laboratories. !!! went on to sign to the British label Warp, which has long moved beyond IDM, picking up acts like US art-rockers Battles and releasing Jamie Lidell's alt-soul.

In 2004 !!! issued the breakthrough Louden Up Now on the back of their disco protest song Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard - and right in the midst of 'No Wave' fever.
!!! famously transformed Magnetic Fields' Take Ecstasy With Me into a neo acid dancefloor thumper. Then, !!!, now aligned with Warp worldwide, unleashed Myth Takes, entailing the single Heart of Hearts. Ahead of Myth Takes, !!! embarked on their biggest tour yet, opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers in the UK, John Frusciante having caught them in Los Angeles.

!!! has an unwieldy line-up but, remarkably, no one has ever emerged as band leader (or disciplinarian). When possible, !!! travel with a tour manager who fills that role. 'It's not anyone in the band - we hire an extra person to do that,' Wilson quips. What's more, though !!! are often dubbed a 'NY band', its members are based across the US, Wilson in Portland, Oregon.

!!! cut Myth Takes in the country hotspot of Nashville, of all places. This dispersion complicates things. 'You spend a lot of money on transportation and you miss a lot of flights - or let's just say you miss more flights than if you were a three-piece or a four-piece, because people don't make it to the airport,' Wilson says.

The worst that can happen- The band's equipment disappears, as it did prior to a gig in Florida. 'We had so much stuff that we forgot our percussion case at the airport,' Wilson recalls. 'We went to go on stage to set up - and no one knew where it was. We had to play without any percussion, which was really strange for us since we're so drum- and percussion-heavy!'

!!! are bound for Australia in a different incarnation to that seen in 2007, Wilson reveals. Three members have left. Remaining are vocalist Nic Offer, guitarist Mario Andreoni, keyboardist Tyler Pope, percussionist Dan Gorman and, of course, Wilson.

'We're not really a very large band any more. We've lost two members, and our drummer [Jerry Fuchs] - he wasn't a full member, he was kind of a hired hand - just quit. So we've lost three people since last year,' Wilson says.

'We're trying to replace the drummer right now, and maybe we'll get another bass player at some point, but we've shifted who's playing what in the band for the time being. So I think there might only be six of us, as opposed to eight or sometimes nine, as we were in the past.'

It sounds like rock n roll Survivor, but there's no hint of animosity from Wilson. John Pugh, who hit the skins before 'graduating' to percussion and backing vocals, is focussing on his own band, Free Blood.