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!!! (Chk Chk Chk) go deeper into embracing change and pushing boundaries

chk-chk-chkPhotos by James Nagel // Written by Molly Kish //

Showbams recently sat down with ecstatic party-starters Nic Offer (vocalist) and Mario Andreoni (guitarist) for Chk Chk Chk (!!!) hours before their headlining Noise Pop show. This performance also marked the beginning of touring and support of Chk Chk Chk’s forthcoming 5th LP Thr!!!er.

Offer and Andreoni opened up about creating new jams through a different process, bringing in Spoon drummer/producer Jim Eno to harness a greater focus, and how the new LP is different than prior albums.

READ THE FULL REVIEW FROM THEIR SHOW AT NOISE POP HERE.


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Showbams: You guys have been a band now for a little over 17 years now …

Offer: Woah, woah, woah. Jesus, easy there. We’re getting to 17 (laughs). We’re in our 16th year. It’ll be 17 this fall.

Showbams: And you’re noted for somewhat pioneering the dance-punk genre.

Offer: Umm, well yeah. You can hate us or love us for starting it all.

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Showbams: You’re also a bit of a staple on the 2013 Noise Pop bill. This isn’t your first time playing the festival, so how is this year’s performance significant?

Andreoni: We have a lot of new jams, a record coming out and different lineup than last time. That’s significant, too.

Offer: Yeah, we were just trying out a brand-new song in soundcheck. You know you write the album, then you have to learn what you wrote. There’s going to be some guess work on stage tonight. But yeah, we were just talking about the Noise Pop’s of yesteryear on the way in and there’s been some really great ones. We’re always up for a San Francisco audience, and at Noise Pop, people usually get down. So, if it’s anything like the other ones, it should be good!

Showbams: Having played various shows, venues, festivals and locations globally at this point in your career, what get’s you most pumped to be on such a lineup as Noise Pop?

Offer: It’s home-ish. You know we’re from Sacramento originally, so there are always a lot of our friends here. Seeing your friends dance in the audience is always a little more exciting. San Francisco is a big deal, it’s quite a town and the festival is just so long-standing. The first time we played it we were like, “Woah, we’re playing Noise Pop.” It’s not like the San Francisco Disco Punk Fest, we’re like, “We’re not Noise Pop …” But, but we are!

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Showbams: This is also a show leading up to the release of your fifth album Thr!!!er, coming out April 30th, and you’ve released the free digital download of “Slyd” on www.chkchkchk.net with the prelude of it being “a jam unlike jams we’ve ever done before.” How is it different?

Offer: Whelp, (looks at Andreoni), I’m just going to stop and see if you can answer that question (laughs).

Andreoni: It’s a jam we had never really had. It was sort of this high-level project we had wanted to do. Nic had suggested that we try and do sort of a “Pump Up the Volume”-type of track, and with that, we just kind of took it and ran with it. Nic and I did a lot of the “jamming” with it, and as we were piecing it together, it just felt a lot different than any of the other ways we’ve constructed a song before.

Offer: We wanted it to seem like it was made from a bunch of samples from about seven or eight different songs, like a collage piece that had some sort of center to it. It was a challenge for us. We were like, “Let’s try this and see if we can make it work.” We’ve kind of accepted the whole verse chorus verse chorus thing, so this was like a strange exercise conceptually. It was honestly really fun to work on, not having to tie it together lyrically and to figure out what kind of weird thing would happen next. It was definitely one of the funniest songs I have ever worked on.

Andreoni: So far, some of the initial responses I’ve heard is that it reminded people of Out Hud. Not having been in Out Hud myself …

Offer: You got to realize the dream, finally!

Andreoni: In spirit, there was just some sort of connection there, besides just having members.

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Showbams: I know you guys also recorded the album in a much more tight-knit and disciplined fashion, with help in production and engineering from Jim Eno of Spoon. Was this something that was brought about through having teamed up with him or an effort that you guys went into the studio really focusing on?

Andreoni: I think we needed more of a focus. We kept talking about who was going to be the producer and we happened to be sort of email friends with some of the people in Spoon. Things just kind of came together when we were at South by Southwest, and Nic went to visit Jim and as soon as we all assembled in the studio, we had just a big group focus the entire time we were there. There’s wasn’t a lot of dicking around.

Offer: I felt like we were definitely more disciplined working on this record, but he was definitely the taskmaster. With the six of us, you kind of need someone in charge.

Andreoni: We’ve never had anyone before say like, “This song. Let’s listen to the demo, and this is what I think is possible and let’s focus in on this song.” Before it was more like trying to get takes, assemble things post-recording, see what we can do afterward and how we can freak it out. But this time, everything was, “Let’s get to it right now!”

Offer: Just bottom line, he’s a good producer and it worked. We could feel that type of production, working with a good band.

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Showbams: What were some of the easiest and most difficult aspects of working with a fellow musician in this capacity?

Offer: I can honestly say it was one of the easiest records we made. We worked really hard, but the flow of it was good. We disagreed with him about very few things. We did, but it was just like the normal stuff. If you and I were to hang out all night, we would eventually start to have disagreements, but that’s just normal. Everything was cool, in that respect I think it was really easy.

Showbams: Many of the anticipatory descriptions from both the band and critics alike with Thr!!!er allude to it being not like any Chk Chk Chk album before, an effort made by choice to steer away from the “dance-punk” vibe of your previous four albums. What called for the change?

Andreoni: We don’t want to repeat ourselves, and with the way that the material was coming together, we just kind of went with whatever direction we were feeling on the track. The songs just kind of fell together in a different place. Before, a lot of it was that we had this sweet groove that we would just take and build on top of. With this album, there’s a little bit of that and more of a melodic structure.

Offer: Really, nobody’s successful at not changing. There’s AC/DC and Too Short, that’s it! Everyone else who’s still around changes. You have to, and the people who’ve had the longest careers like Bowie, Madonna and Blur, they’ve all changed. I feel like the basis of the group and things that we were excited by were bands that pushed and were new. So, I think we always knew that there was going to be that aspect of the band.

We knew that we would always be playing dance music because that’s how we get hit. When we saw the whole dance-rock thing happen, we knew we were going to be there afterward because it’s just what we like. But we hoped that we could push it so it felt different as well.

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