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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. That’s not to say that life is completely easy for !!!. When it’s not on tour, the dance-rock band’s eight members are split with homes in New York, Portland and Sacramento, making regular practices and collaboration nearly impossible. And then there’s 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. We’re set to do a week on the West Coast at the end of this month. I’m really looking forward to that because I live in Portland and I don’t have to fly halfway across the world to play a couple shows. I’m 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. It’s friendly on the body.

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

AW: That’s right. There are only two of us out here now.

SFS: What’s 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. We’ve 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 couldn’t really see how I was going to support myself, a young mother and a child. It’s 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. It’s 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 band’s 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 don’t 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: That’s true. It has always taken us a long time to get our songs together, but I’m really happy with the things we’ve 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. It’s 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: I’m not a big fan of them, personally. If I wasn’t playing these festivals, I wouldn’t 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 it’s a good way to check out a bunch of different things that you wouldn’t normally check out. They are hugely successful in Europe and it seems like they are becoming successful in the states too.

They’ve been cool to play. We all thought the Pitchfork festival was one of the best-run festivals we’ve 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 I’m getting old. After I see two bands, I’m 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.