Thursday Nights Still Got It:
An Interview with !!! (Chk Chk Chk) frontman Nic Offer
By Brian Offenther
If you're the right age and from the right place, it was all about Thursday night at the Atlantic. $5 US cover, free beer from 9:30 to 10:30 pm, and skinny kids in tight jeans.
Oh, the jeans were tight. Not for me – I had integrity. But believe me, I was watching very hard, and I could tell.
From around the year 2000 to 2005-ish, every big city and hip university town worth its cobblestone had a Thursday night at The Atlantic: it was indie rock dance party. The place was packed sticky hot with lithe bodies, and they writhed to the stinging guitars and screaming vocals of Modest Mouse, The Rapture, and the band that's playing Shanghai this Thursday: !!! (Chk Chk Chk).
That zeitgeist might have dimmed, but that stuff is only a convenience anyway. Nostalgia is stupid and mostly worthless, and the good stuff lives on regardless. !!! (Chk Chk Chk) continues to this today, hitting the festival circuit hard and releasing music of quality. Surely, many fans who come to their show will come because of their latest release, 2003's Thri!!!er.
For others, like me (note: I'm also DJing the show, but don't worry, the pay sucks), ten years on, it will be making sure my Thursday nights still got it.
I e-mailed frontman Nic Offer some questions, and this is what he had to say about Miles Davis, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and the place with the best dancers.
1)I'm considering bringing my 60 year Chinese apartment-mate to your Shanghai show. She's never heard of you guys. How can I describe the music and concert experience of a !!! (Chk Chk Chk) show to her?
Just tell her i wear shorts. Ladies love the shorts.
2)How has the current make-up of !!! effected how you approach making new material? Does it change the approach for playing old material on stage?
Each new member that has come into the band has changed the sound a bit, I think that's one of the reasons we've managed to stay fresh for so long. I suppose it has changed the old material a bit, but we don't really play so many old songs, so i've never really noticed.
3)In 2001 when you put out the debut !!! album, did you have in your mind that dance music would take over pop culture as much as it does today?
In a way, yes, i did. Dance music was fresh to me, and rock n' roll felt old and tired. I couldn't understand why rock n' roll was even still around. In another way, no I didn't, because in 2001 I didn't look more than a month ahead of time. Now i'm older, and i try to plan at least 2 months ahead of time.
4)Setlist.fm lists you guys as covering “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood in Melbourne, Australia on February 10, 2011. What happened?
We played Frankie's hometown of Liverpool on Halloween, and we thought it would be fun to dress up as Frankie, and play “Relax.” Incidentally, a couple of us took a Beatles tour the next day, and the tour guide was Holly Johnson from FGTH's brother. He sent Holly a Youtube clip of us playing it, and Holly wrote us to say "What's up." Holly's a top geezer.
5)What place that you guys have played has the best dancers? What in particular gives them that distinction?
Spain. Nobody goes as hard as Spain. They get crazy.
6)I think my favorite tweet from your Twitter account is: “i'm miles davis and i'm here to say, i like fruity pebbles in a silent way (sp).” Do you have any more Miles Davis album title puns/children's cereal references you can share with our readers?
Wow, you really had to go far back to find that one. I'm impressed... i've given it a bit of thought, and that is the only Miles pun i have. Welllll, i did think of some stupid ones, but I'll leave those be. Miles is a pretty easy name to make up stupid puns to. I will say that the opening to his album On The Corner is one of my favorite beginnings to any album ever.
7)Tex Axile, who was in a band that I bet you dig, X-Ray Spex, recently moved to Shanghai. Do you have a question for him that I'll ask, and then write his response in this article?
What the hell are "plastic popper beads (note: from the X-Ray Spex song “I Can't Do Anything”).
A teenage girly necklace thing that was all the rage.
8)You guys call this tour a “punk dog tour.” Can you explain to readers what you mean by that.
Oh, it's just a silly expression we started a long time ago, that none of us can remember why we started saying it. Honestly, if i could remember what it came from i would tell you. You seem like a cool guy.
9)Also, this: http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/21-pictures-of-totally-punk-dogs
Nice one. I think my cats are pretty punk. They're always trying to dumpster dive.
10)Please choose a punk dog, and explain why. Here are some options: “Pet Cemetery” by The Ramones, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges, “C30, C60, C90, Go” By Bow Wow Wow, “Dog Eat Dog” by Adam & The Ants, The Cramps “Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?.”
I choose the Sonic Youth version of "I Wanna Be Your Dog." that one gets me every time. So killer. I also like Camper Van Beethoven "The Day That Lassie Went To The Moon," and Dead Milkmen "Watching Scotty Die."
11)I read in an interview with you saying: “We play better if the audience is giving us something. I don't know what it is. It's kind of a two-way thing. It's somehow reciprocal.” Besides dancing like crazy, is there anything else an audience can do to make for a good show?
Wear their dancing shoes and take off their underwear.
12)I couldn't find the interesting story about working with (Seirra Leone musician) Daddy Rhymes written in any detail on the Internet. It's hinted at here. Can you tell our readers about finding him, and what it was like to record with him?
I had bought a bunch of MP3s on a SIM card from this guy in the market, and he was playing me the songs and telling me what they were about and who and what the artists were like. I asked him what studios were like there, and he said his friend ran one of the biggest studios in Sierra Leone, and he could take me there. We went the next day, and it was a very small studio, with headphones that barely worked. I just hung out for awhile while Daddy Rhymes worked on a track, and i just started singing ideas and he liked them, so we finished the song together.
12)What makes for a good dance song?
The beat, duh. Come on, what was that? Some sort of trick question?
13)I'm DJing the show. Any requests?
Just don't play any dance rock. Play “2 On” by Tinashe.
14)”Do you believe in love?”
I have my doubts sometimes, but yes.
15)Doing a Thursday night gig in Shanghai means competing against some lady's nights, where girls get free drinks. Do you have a message to those ladies debating whether to go to their usual stomping?
Ummmmm, we have a new song called “Stomp,” and i think we're gonna play it. True story. But other than that, we're not an ordinary boring rock band, they won't get another chance to see a band like this for awhile. and it's certainly going to be a drag if there's only guys at the show.
Check out they event tonight @Mao Live House, all information is available here.
If you haven't realized we made a big leap this year regarding our own events! You all have been to at least one of them and we hope you could actually be at all of them!
The guys from That's Shanghai wrote an article on us and here is what they had to say:
The successful party website shows how to make play pay
Citymoments.cn started like a sitcom: a group of students and 20-some-things forged a friendship over a shared address on Xinzha Lu and a love of Shanghai nightlife. Two of those friends, David Lazarowicz and Wei Phung, decided to parlay their passion into a website that would make work play and vice versa.
Today, City Moments dominates the expat party scene in Shanghai with aspirations of conquering Asia, recently opening an office in Beijing and planning to expand to at least two other cities by the end of next year. The Shanghai office runs out of a trendy space surrounded by design and music studios, a far cry from the company’s humble beginnings, but COO Teja Nosty insists that it’s still ruled by its founding spirit. “It’s still about friendship,” he says. “We’ve all become more serious, but we’re still friends.”
In the early days in 2009, City Moments made a name for itself by going out to clubs in a huge group with black T-shirts with the City Moments logo. “Everyone wanted one,” Partner and Shanghai GM Lee lam remembers. The T-shirt wore out quickly, but the impression stuck. “We were giving people a feeling of what City Moments was about and building this image of coolness. And we were marketing it as an atmosphere.”
People started logging onto City Moments for the pictures – the crew sent photographers to all the big nightlife events and uploaded them the next morning. Partygoers logged on to see what happened last night and stayed for the listings.
In June 2009, the group released a new website – City Moments 2.0. The improved version aimed to integrate social networking, with strong ties to Facebook. But three weeks later Facebook was blocked on the Chinese mainland, rendering many features of City Moments 2.0 unusable. This was a huge setback for the team, who’d spent months working on 2.0. In the aftermath, Teja and Lee stepped forward to play a bigger role in day-to-day operations. The needed to develop and launch the next version as soon as possible, which meant changing the way they worked.
“The first thing we said as, ‘OK, we must go into the office every morning,’” Teja recalls. In the beginning, the group had been doing most of its work from home, but Teja insisted they invest in office space and start showing up early. This meant cutting back on the partying and getting serious about work. Teja, David and Lee buckled down and launched City Moments 3.0 in July. 3.0, the version in use today, still features photos and extensive event listings, but it also has its own built-in social networking tool, which allows users to create profiles and ‘friend’ other members. As the website becomes more and more sophisticated, so do its owners, After 3.0 launched, Teja remembers being congratulated by a business associate.
“He said, ‘I remember I met you one weekend and you were all wearing those T-shirts,’” Teja says. “’One year later, you’re very professional .’”
Writing by Audrey Murray, Picture by Nicky Almasy
Good Morning Shanghai,
Welcome to Your new City Moments 3.0!
Some of you might already know us since we took our first steps with This guy chasing every party ready to shoot everyone who could not hide. Since then we underwent several phases such as the implementation of Facebook Connect which gave us a kick-start just to take us 3 steps back as Facebook was blocked in China! Bad luck…..
Since then we saved every single Yuan to build what you see right now, City Moments 3.0
What is new?
First of all we dressed up a bit matching the long night of Shanghai. For those who don’t like dark colors don’t cry as we will introduce a white version sooner or later as well.
Photo Booster, a little toy to play around and rate pictures with Cute, Cool or Sexy tags….later you can see the top rated pictures in an overview.
Radio….yes we have one!! We partnered up with Udance to make your time on our site not only pleasant for your eyes but for your ears as well.
City Feed, the stream where you see what is happening throughout your city!
You might see this Like it! button spreading throughout the site and wonder what you can do with it!? Click on it to add an event to your calendar, add a picture or hangout to your favorites and show others some love with it.
What else is new? Ah yes we finally have community features implemented! You can now upload pictures, create a profile and write all these sexy girls n guys out there, tag people and comment on their pictures. Start right here.
Invite your friends to join you and share some special moments together.
All this is just the beginning and there is more to come….so keep on coming back to check on our famous event pictures, have a look at our event listing where you can check out what’s on tonight and vote for the next ICON (coming in 1 day).
For sure we want to know your opinion about everything and therefore we are happy about every comment may it be good or bad!
Positive criticism is the key to success.
Your City Moments Team
P.S. Important notice for all those who already connected through Facebook with our previous version. Either you connect again or you can Sign up by using the same name as your Facebook name to get back your old City Moments account.