3OH!3's playful sense of humor has always been matched by their tireless work ethic, both of which are at the forefront of the band's latest album OMENS. Like their self-released debut, their latest album was produced by the band and sees this duo further expanding on the musical motifs that have endeared them to fans worldwide, while simultaneously stretching forward to redefine what 3OH!3 represents today. Oh and don't worry, it will still make you dance.
Admittedly the process of making OMENS—which saw the band writing, recording, producing and mixing over 20 songs—was intense and unforgiving at times, but it allowed for a completely unfiltered snapshot of what Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte are capable of when it comes to ingenious wordplay, inventive beats and a one-of-a-kind sensibility that can turn everything from a V.I.P. nightclub to the main stage at the Warped Tour into an instant party.
“With all of our records it’s always just been us,” explains Motte—who recorded the album in his basement studio in Colorado—when asked about the band's autonomous nature. “Since we made our first record four years ago we’ve learned so much about songwriting and production as well as the actual logistical and technical side of making a record, so we really wanted to explore the idea of allowing this record to showcase who we are as people and musicians.”
While most acts in their position would choose to work with big name producers or stack their disc with special guests, for OMENS the duo decided to get back to their roots to recapture the magic of 3OH!3’s humble beginnings. “We didn’t try to think too much about the songs we wanted to make, we just really tried to have fun making this record and at times it made us feel so giddy it was like we were back in college again,” Foreman explains. “That love of music without all the pressure has always been at the core of our sound and we never want to lose that.”
Correspondingly OMENSfeatures songs like “TWO GIRLFRIENDS” and "BLACK HOLE" with sexually charged, pop-culture-heavy rapping that has endeared them to countless fans. For every hip-hop banger there’s also an infectious club-friendly rocker such as “YOU’RE GONNA LOVE THIS” and “MAKE IT EASY.” “I love a song like ‘YOUNGBLOOD’ because it’s very positive and hopefully brings out something in people that’s inspirational without being too heavy,” Foreman explains. When asked about “BACK TO LIFE” Motte adds, “we’re all about including people no matter where they came from or genre they associate with, and that’s what that song represents to me.”
Having collaborated with some of the biggest names in pop such as Katy Perry, Ke$ha and Lil John over the past few years, 3OH!3’s expanded musical palette now extends beyond their own band. "Every time I work with an artist like Ke$ha and It Boys! it's a huge achievement and we've had so much fun working on every session whether the song blows up or not," Foreman explains. Similarly Motte—who has written with everyone from huge rock acts like Maroon 5 to underground hip-hop icons like AWOL ONE—adds, "Since me and Sean write and produce all our own music it's only natural to work with other people and we're really excited to continue doing that and see what happens."
That said, 3OH!3 have also had plenty of success on their own, most notably having their 2008 album WANT go Gold. "We're the kind of band who are still making albums, not just one song after another, so to have that come to fruition and have it take a couple of years it was really obvious that the work that we've been putting into the band has paid off," Foreman says. "When Sean and I were making that record we were excited that anyone was going to hear it, so having it sell half a million copies four years later was really encouraging and flattering for us," Motte adds.
Anyone who's familiar with the band knows also knows that the duality between the band’s hard work ethic and party-friendly message has always laid at the core of 3OH!3 and they manage to further explore that balance on OMENS. “It’s funny because as a band we walk a lot of razor thin lines and there’s always been this kind of conundrum in the art itself between what’s fun and what’s legitimate art—and our whole ethos is that they shouldn’t be mutually exclusive… and they aren’t in our case,” Motte explains.
Another game-changing aspect of OMENS is the fact that Foreman has expanded his vocal style and felt comfortable expressing himself in new ways. “I love our past work but I was always finding my footing of what I was comfortable doing and with this one I feel like I found this really unique hybrid of singing and rapping,” he says. “I actually felt confident hearing my own voice this time around, which is something that’s new for me and I’m really proud of the way each vocal line syncs up with the instrumentation.”
Then again none of this would matter without the constant support and validation that the band receive from their fans and they've continued that relationship by maintaining a strong online personality that's gained them over five million "likes" on Facebook. "Our online presence is something we've always prided ourselves on because from the beginning we've always wanted to have a dialogue with our fans since they're as like-minded as us," Foreman says. "With this album we've been teasing parts of the album and getting feedback with fans in a way that wouldn't have been possible a few years ago, so that's incredibly exciting," Motte confirms.
Having already performed everywhere from The Tonight Show With Jay Leno to American Idol alongside Ke$ha, 3OH!3 have racked up an impressive resume that's seen them vying for MTV Video Music Awards, selling out shows worldwide, racking up platinum singles and blowing away audiences at festivals like Reading and Leeds. OMENSis just the latest step forward for a duo who just can't be categorized. As you might expect, neither the fans nor the band would have it any other way.
Seal, Wesley Willis, Captain Ahab, Greg Kurstin