A duo that parties hard and works harder

Good times play a big role in 3OH!3’s songs, but beneath the electro-rap duo’s hard-partying exterior lies a well-honed work ethic that has already helped the crew from Boulder, Colo. (area code 303), land three Top 10 hits. Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte—who met while attending the University of Colorado—locked themselves away in the Rockies to write songs for Streets of Gold, their third album. The set features appearances from Katy Perry, Cobra Starship and Ke$ha. “I think it’s just a next step for us in what we’re doing,” says Foreman. “I don’t think we went super artsy or tried to flip the script on anyone.” We spoke with Foreman about the duo’s symbiotic working relationship.

When you were preparing to make the album, what were your expectations?

It’s more like a second record for us. The first record [3OH!3, 2007] was a basement, recorded-in-our-shower mixtape thing. I love it—we still play songs off that record. We’ve gotten better in the two years since our last release, and it shows in our production and songwriting. There’s undoubtedly a lot of pressures, but our main concern was just doing what came naturally to us.

How have you evolved?

On the production end, a lot is software-based, and new technology presents new ways of producing. For this album, we used Pro Tools and Logic, which is a really advanced program. Nat has become very proficient with Logic—he’s almost like a mad scientist with it. In terms of lyrics and singing, touring over two years and singing every day and doing vocal training has helped both our voices mature. There’s a lot more singing on this record, and honestly, there are notes I never would have been able to hit two years ago unless I was punching myself in the balls. It just comes more naturally.

How do the two of you go about writing songs together?

We have to be in Colorado to write. That’s where we’re from, that’s what 3OH!3 stands for, that’s where we started. If you get out of there and go to some ritzy place like Las Vegas to write an album, it’s reflected in the album. We had a couple songs ready before we started demos. But for the bulk of the record we got this cabin up in Breckenridge, and for a month locked ourselves away from all temptation. We went crazy with all the songs we had been waiting to write and demoed nearly two songs a day. We wrote 18 or 20 songs up in the mountains.

How did Ke$ha come to sing on “My First Kiss?”

We started working on that song a year and a half ago with [producer] Dr. Luke, and it was before she had done anything. I had the refrain in my head, and we thought it would be cool to do a guy-girl call and response. Dr. Luke said, “I’ve been working with this girl who would be perfect. She’s a little crazy.” So Ke$ha comes in wearing cut-off daisy dukes, her hair all dredded out and covered in glitter, and I was like, “Oh my God, who is this?” She was kind of abrasive at first, but we became good friends.

All this hard work doesn’t quite square with the band’s party image.

It’s give and take. To make music you have to work. You get up at 7, put that work in and then you get a month of partying and hanging out. You have to have a balance. Anyone who gets too partied out disappears, because you have to have substance behind what you do. No one can really be a professional partier–except Paris Hilton.

Eric R. Danton

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