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No time to talk — start dancing

Don’t ask house-pop-funk band !!! how to pronounce their name or really anything else. They’re busy trying to get the whole world up on its feet. By Paige Newman
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Theory: The more we move our bodies, the faster the spring weather will actually get here. There’s no better band to prove this than !!!. Don’t let that symbol instead of name stop you. It’s pronounced chk-chk-chk. Actually cramming any three syllables together will do. Vocalist and drummer John Pugh has no time for the question. “Our name is !!!. Get over it,” he says.

Straight answers are wearisome for Pugh, who’s currently out on tour with the band and would rather spend the time, well, playing music.

Ask him to describe !!!’s sound and he says, “A throbbing, blood-engorged mass of steaming flesh, glistening with the delicate sheen of man-sweat.”

This bizarre response is actually apt. A combination of house, funk, electronica and pop, this is music with a pulse. If you’ve seen the movie “Host,” this music could be the personification of one of those sci-fi creatures: ready to consume a city at will, but not before making it dance.

Ask Pugh about the band’s lack of a homebase — !!! is actually spread across the country in Sacramento, Nashville and Brooklyn — and he responds: “We spread ourselves out across the U.S. so that when disaster strikes (earthquakes, tidal waves, terrorism) at least some percentage of us will be around to carry on the family business. As far as writing songs go, we always fall back on our collective ESP. And frequent flyer miles.”

With eight members — Pugh, Nic Offer (vocals), Allan Wilson (percussion, horns), Mario Andreoni (guitar), Tyler Pope (guitar, keyboards), Justin Vandervolgen (bass, sound engineering), Dan Gorman (percussion, horns), Gerard Fuchs (drums) — and a slew of additional musicians they used while recording their latest CD “Myth Takes,” !!! has an extremely layered, complex sound.

Just don’t make the mistake of calling it a “soundscape,” which elicits this from Pugh: “Each ‘soundscape’ is hand-crafted with care by one of our dedicated child laborers. We have established a network of official !!! ‘soundscape sweat shops,’ not only throughout the Third World but also the Second and First Worlds. Each of us oversees quarterly progress personally, doling out college scholarships when we see fit.”

He adds, “We have always strived for inconsistency. Every note is designed to sound different from the note previous. Conversely, each drum beat must be an exact duplicate of the beat previous. These are the only stipulations we have for our songs.”

If you think fans are safe from Pugh’s jabs, think again. The band opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their previous tour, and Pugh describes the experience this way: “Whereas the typical RHCP audience could successfully operate a textile manufacturing plant, the typical !!! audience could barely work out a feasible dish-washing schedule at a local punk house. Honestly, we just played to the 30 or so folks in the stadium who looked like they had a pile of dishes waiting for them at home.”

Of course, Pugh’s quick to poke at !!! itself, pointing out that the band’s shows didn’t exactly leave fans in Tucson, Chicago and San Diego clamoring for encores. “Each town’s reaction is not entirely their fault,” says Pugh. “Some nights we just plain suck. It’s never the same show twice. Go figure.”

It may not be the same show twice, but at least the band keeps themselves constantly entertained.

“Being on the road means we come up with new jokes, new nicknames, new embarrassing situations to remind each other about, new pains in the back, head, knees and butt, new obscure dance singles you can only find in some back alley second-hand shop in Munich ... new answers to interviews,” Pugh said.

New theory: When you’re busy trying to get the world up on its feet, you have no time to give straight answers to pesky interviewers.

For more information on !!!, visit: