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Allan Wilson of !!!

No Explanation for the Exclamation

After nearly 10 months on the road last year, !!! (commonly referred to as Chk, Chk, Chk) is easing up on its tour schedule this summer with regional mini-tours, the latest of which stops in San Francisco on August 27th at The Independent. Thatís not to say that life is completely easy for !!!. When itís not on tour, the dance-rock bandís eight members are split with homes in New York, Portland and Sacramento, making regular practices and collaboration nearly impossible. And then thereís the symbolic name -- a source of constant questioning that thwarts easy explanations and simple Internet searches alike. Multi-instrumentalist Allan Wilson spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from his home in Portland.

SF Station (SFS): Do you prefer shorter tours compared to the extensive touring you did last year?

Allan Wilson (AW): I like tours that are in between the little tours and gigantic tours. Five weeks is a good, healthy tour. Weíre set to do a week on the West Coast at the end of this month. Iím really looking forward to that because I live in Portland and I donít have to fly halfway across the world to play a couple shows. Iím just going to fly an hour to Sacramento, where we are going to practice for a few days, and then we are going to drive down to L.A. Itís friendly on the body.

SFS: You are one of the last band members to live on the West Coast.

AW: Thatís right. There are only two of us out here now.

SFS: Whatís keeping you here while everyone else is in Brooklyn?

AW: Most of the band moved to Brooklyn with Out Hud, our sister band that formed concurrently with us back in 1996. Weíve kind of developed alongside of each other and they decided to move in with each other.

At that point, my girlfriend at the time was about to have a kid and I couldnít really see how I was going to support myself, a young mother and a child. Itís kind of cutthroat in New York and really expensive.

SFS: Is it difficult to make music and collaborate now?

AW: Yeah, it really it is. Itís made it a lot harder. We used to practice two or three times a week and now we practice whenever we can make time. Mario (the bandís guitarist) lives in Sacramento. He also has a family, which is why he stayed. When he and I can fly out and spend a couple of days in New York is the only time when we really get to practice.

Things get done and most of us have music software where we can demo stuff, but it is a bit limited until we can get together and get us all in a room. I donít recommend splitting a band between three or four cities. It gets pretty ridiculous.

SFS: Having eight people in a room to collaborate must also be tough.

AW: Thatís true. It has always taken us a long time to get our songs together, but Iím really happy with the things weíve done and it has definitely been worth it. I think that we make things a lot harder for ourselves sometimes than we need to.

SFS: And the band name also seems like it could create some difficulties.

AW: Yeah, this is the question that we hate answering because everyone has to ask it. Itís been a pain in the ass.

SFS: Okay. Are you still playing multiple instruments?

AW: Yeah, a lot of the reason why we jump around so much with instruments is that when we are in practice we subjugate ourselves to the song and try to make it happen however we can. I guess it also makes for an interesting visual to see us all running around to get our instruments and get the song out.

SFS: The fluidity of that approach sounds fun.

AW: It is fun. I definitely enjoy not sticking to one instruments and running around. It makes it a lot more exciting than if I was standing around with one instrument.

SFS: Your west coast tour is anchored by the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle. What are your thoughts on the proliferation of summer music festivals?

AW: Iím not a big fan of them, personally. If I wasnít playing these festivals, I wouldnít be one to pay a lot of money to see a ton of bands at once. But people seem to enjoy it and I think itís a good way to check out a bunch of different things that you wouldnít normally check out. They are hugely successful in Europe and it seems like they are becoming successful in the states too.

Theyíve been cool to play. We all thought the Pitchfork festival was one of the best-run festivals weíve been to in the world. Sometimes they can be a really fun experience.

SFS: So you are not opposed to attending as an artist?

AW: Not at all, but as a show-goer I kind of scratch my head. Maybe Iím getting old. After I see two bands, Iím ready to take a nap or something.

!!! perform August 27th at the Independent. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 7:30pm and the show starts at 8pm.