!!!’s biography runs like this: since releasing their first album in 2001, they’ve rocked and partied hard. End of story.
After coming into prominence with 2003’s instantly-iconic groove-jam “Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)“, lead singer Nic Offer and his merry band of like-minded cohorts have moved away from their hardcore roots to become the de-facto dance-rock of the new millennium. Their songs groove, twist, and surprise, and even with a rotating group of regular members (to say nothing of the tragic passing of drummer Jerry Fuchs), they have slowly amassed an intensely devout cult following of the past decade and a half. Even with the success of “Giuliani”, the band has been touring and recording at a pretty consistent clip, often releasing one new album every three years, often shying away from the showboating controversies that so quickly sink other bands of the dance-rock contingent (whatever happened to, say, Black Kids?).
Yet what’s most interesting about the band is how even with Warp Records’ undying support for over a decade, the band never really had any other singles take off and managed to do something that few other groups are truly capable of: they’ve gotten better with each album. Even with a few critics still wavering about 2007’s divisive Strange Weather, Isn’t It?, 2013’s excellently-titled Thr!!!er managed to engage with not only their most nimble compositions yet, but also exuded a confidence and wit that seemed remarkable even for a band with a reputation as notable as !!!, many calling it the best album they had ever made. Now, only a year a half later and clearly in a great headspace, the band is back with As If, which some of their fans say even tops that.
So to help celebrate the release of an album which encourages “All U Writers” to get out your pens and write (hey, that’s what I’m doing!), the group answered PopMatters’ 20 Questions, here revealing heartbreak over the death of Elvis Presley, advisement against becoming a caffeine addict, and an open invite to have Barack Obama see Can with them.
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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Garulnick. Spoiler alert: he dies at the end and when Lisa Marie tries to run around from the other side of his bedroom saying “Something’s wrong with my daddy and I’m gonna find out.” After 1400 pages, that really got to me.
2. The fictional character most like you?
3. The greatest album, ever?
I dunno. Maybe Dark Side of the Moon? I’ve only ever listened to it all the way through once maybe, but that seems like the one.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
5. Your ideal brain food?
I’m always listening to new or at least new-to-me music. Whatever I listened to five years ago, I no longer listen to. Brain food to me is whatever is next.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
Not having a straight job. Straight society is always lapping at my heels and one day it may get me. Why am I proud of this? Have you seen straight society?
7. You want to be remembered for …?
There’s this weird obsession in art with immortality which I’ve never understood. When you’re dead, you’re dead. Who gives a shit what they think afterwards? I can’t get BJ’s then.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Prince, Iggy, Beatles, Bowie, Neil, Stevie, Sonic Youth, Timbaland, Fleetwood Mac.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
10. Your hidden talents . . .?
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
My first guitar teacher told me “Excuses are the pillars of mediocrity.” And I never forgot it. It comes in handy, especially while making records. Anytime you hear yourself make an excuse, you know that you’re making a mediocre record and you must avoid this at all costs. We always take the hard road while making records.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
Best thing I ever stole were the chords to “Children of the Grave” by Black Sabbath.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .
I dunno. Never tried Armani. Maybe I would like.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
Give me Morrissey or Madonna in good moods and we’d have a splendid time, I’m sure.
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
I’m a man of simple tastes: couple live shows from Can in the early ’70s and I’d be fine heading back to the present.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
Studio is the best stress management I know. Maybe a studio on the beach, that sounds good to me.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?
I always advise people never to start drinking coffee. I’m an addict and it’s not pretty.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
I like all the big cities. NYC, Paris, Berlin, Mexico City.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
Wanna go see Can with me?
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Prolly some other interview after this.