!!! survive 'frustrating' spell

23/08/10

!!! (Chk Chk Chk)

!!! - known most commonly as Chk Chk Chk - have endured a turbulent couple of years.

First there was the not all together harmonious departure of founding member and co-vocalist John Pugh.

Then, at the tail end of 2009, touring drummer Jerry Fuchs fell down a lift-shaft at a warehouse party in Brooklyn and died.

Understandable then that today lead singer Nic Offer is a little guarded when speaking about the last few months in the New York punk-funk band's 13-year career.

'Crazy' record

You see, !!! have always brought the good times. The three albums since their self-titled debut have all contained free-wheelin' psychedelic anthems - party jams they've taken around the world to become one of the planet's most notorious live bands.

!!! (Chk Chk Chk)
Image caption !!!'s Nic Offer says the band have endured a "frustrating" spell

However, their new album Strange Weather, Isn't It? has taken them on a previously unchartered emotional journey. It's a much more restrained effort.

"It's a crazy thing to start a record," says Offer, clutching a giant paper cup of coffee.

"It's like looking up at a mountain and you're like, 'Ok we have to do this'.

"It just seems like something you can never even finish. To be at the top of the mountain feels fantastic."

Berlin recording

It's an album which saw the collective relocate to Berlin - like so many others, Liars, Scissor Sisters and Ting Tings in recent times.

"Everyone has that Berlin record in them," he smiles, explaining that the city's late-night party scene was a big inspiration, and distraction.

As always the seeds of the new music started with Offer and co jamming along to a boombox. But Offer's lyrics came from somewhere deeper though.

I liked it because it was avoiding the issue at the same time starring the issue straight in the face
Nic Offer, !!!

He says the album's title encapsulated his general feeling and atmosphere surrounding the band right now.

It's a quote from a film where a romantically entwined couple, meet in the pouring rain and avoid talking their own relationship at all costs and simply say, "Strange weather, isn't it?"

"I liked it because it was avoiding the issue at the same time starring the issue straight in the face," says Offer.

"[On this album] They're things that are very directly stated and sometimes we dance around the issues.

"You may have noticed there aren't as many of us anymore.

"Maybe if I ran into certain members - maybe I would say 'Strange Weather, Isn't It?'"

While acknowledging it has been a "difficult" time for the band Offer's not ready to talk about his friend Jerry Fuchs.

Explaining to an online magazine recently he said he didn't want to remember the drummer through a series of regurgitated interview sound bites.

"I feel good in that I feel like I've always felt," he says finally, putting a brave face on things.

"There's always been frustrating and things that have always been new and exciting things."

Strange Weather, Isn't It? is released today.