SOUND CITY 2017: An Interview with !!!
Ellipsis interview dream team Jess and Chloe headed down to a well fancy hotel on day 2 of Sound City to chat to Nic Offer, funky dancer and lead singer of !!! (pronounced ‘chk chk chk’) ahead of the band’s set later that day.
Chloe: Are you excited to play Sound City later?
Nic: Yeah! It’s always exciting to play Liverpool, and it looks like a good line up!
Chloe: Have you played a lot of gigs in Liverpool?
I can’t remember if I’ve played here in another band. I’ve definitely played here once with !!!, maybe twice, but definitely once!
Jess: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to seeing today?
I’d have to have a look at the bill! I wanted to see Peaches but she was yesterday!
Jess: Yeah, her set was crazy!
She’s an incredible performer. Our drummer is good friends with The Cribs, so we’ll probably stick around for them.
Chloe: Are you playing any other festivals this summer?
We’re going to Primavera next week, and I love that festival, it’s one of my favourites.
Jess: You’ve played Coachella a few times before – how was that?
It’s super fun. It’s kind of a bit like Glastonbury. A lot of people complain about Coachella, but at the same time when you’re there you’re just like ‘It’s f*****g Coachella!’ Like it’s pretty fun! It’s beautiful, it’s sunny, everyone’s psyched and happy to be there, and there’s always a killer line up!
Chloe: It’s so different to UK festivals, which are so disgusting and muddy!
We went to Glastonbury, and we came with our wellies! I remember one of our band members at the time just like dove into the mud! We were like ‘Okay, let’s just f*****g do this!
Jess: What’s the best thing about playing festivals?
The thing that’s fun about playing festivals is that generally people are up for a good time. They’ve been waiting for it all summer, and they’ve saved their money, they don’t have to work the next day so they’re gonna go hard. And I think we’re a good festival band, because it’s an energetic show, and it’s dance music, so it doesn’t matter whether you’ve heard of us yet. It’s just a fun show to see, so it’s perfect for festivals when people are just wondering by like ‘Hello, who’s this?’ So that works well for us. And it’s fun just to play to a huge audience. I prefer to watch a band at a club, because it usually sounds better, it’s more intimate and closer, but playing-wise, I like both of them, they’re both fun.
Jess: Do you have a favourite song to play live?
It usually changes. Usually, we’re most excited to play the new songs, so off the new record, it’s been the most exciting to play The One 2, the first song off our new record, especially because that one’s like a studio creation, it’s not really a ‘band-y’ kind of song, and they’re the ones that are always the biggest challenge to play, so it pushes us most outside of our comfort zone. That one’s kind of been the most exciting one for me so far this tour.
Chloe: Do you get bored of playing some of the older songs?
You do. I don’t know what other bands do but we kind of give them a break; there are some of our biggest hits that we don’t play. You give them a break and then you play them later and it feels good. You have to kind of, like, make your own peace with them and then find your way back into it.
Jess: I know some bands, like Bombay Bicycle Club, they have so many well-known songs so they change it up when they perform them live so they’re different to the studio version.
It’s tricky. I remember when I was a kid I always used to love Elvis Costello, and when I finally saw him, he did Alison, but like a lame new jazz version of it, and it was just like ‘Don’t play it, then!’ There’s ways you have to do it. If a band put out a good record that year, I try to see them that year. That’s always better than seeing them on their reunion tour, when they’re tired of the songs. I think that, as a 20 year old band, it’s why we’re able to be good live, we’re excited about playing. And I know there are certain people who’re like ‘Why don’t they play the old songs? Why don’t they play the hits?’ I think the reason that we’re good is because we don’t. We’ll give you a couple, but we’re not going to play the whole back catalogue. Every band has to find their own way, but that’s just been our way.
Chloe: If you could tour with anyone, who would you tour with?
I like when we tour with someone we really like. I guess I kind of view us as doing something different, but it’s not like we’re unmatchable. There’s a good answer for this! I guess I’d like to play with someone who like, scares me a little bit, so you play better, I think that’s how you get a good show. Our old drummer just left us to play in this other band Thee Oh Sees, and I think they’re one of the best live bands, so it’d be fun to be on tour with him again, and play with a band that really made us work.
Jess: Have you ever met anyone who you were completely starstruck by?
I met Robert Smith, from The Cure. He was a really nice dude, really cool.
Chloe: I imagine him to be a little bit weird…
Well I’m not sure, because I didn’t get to speak to him for very long! The thing that was funny was that someone introduced me to him, and they were like ‘Oh, d’you know each other?’ and I was just like ‘Hi, I’m Nic’ and he was like ‘I’m Robert’, like he even had to introduce himself! I had a joke that I could make right then, because they were taking pictures of me by this very cemetery-like wall, where you’d think they’d make a Cure video or something, and I wanted to bring it up to him but I just kind of bailed on the joke, I got too tongue-tied! He did seem pretty normal. I’m actually reading the book Meet Me in the Bathroom [about the New York music scene] and I’m at the chapter where everyone’s talking about how funny he was on this tour that he went on, so I almost want to say ‘Yeah, he’s really normal!’ but I don’t actually know that; I’ve just read about him in a book! I haven’t met a ton of famous people, because I don’t really think of myself as being very good at meeting famous people. Some of my friends are really good at it, but I’m not. Most of them just want to be normal, they don’t really want to hear that their record changed your life.
Chloe: If you could swap places with anyone else in !!! who would it be?
Um…. I guess now I’m thinking of who their wives and girlfriends are! I guess I’d say I’d switch with [guitarist] Mario, because he’s single, so I don’t have to worry about that, and he’s living in my house right now, so I could still live in the same place. I could kind of keep the same life!
Chloe: If you could be an animal, which animal would you be?
I mean, otters, that’s the obvious one, right? They’re the ones that have all the fun!
Chloe: It’s not my automatic thought, but I guess so!
Well it’s my otter-matic thought! They’re just like, going on waterslides all the time, and playing all the time.
Jess: I feel like penguins are like that too.
Yeah, but they seem like they have trouble walking places, whereas otters are really quick. And my last name is Offer, so I could just be Nic Otter, or Nic Offer the Otter…