For its fourth album, “Omens,” the dance-pop duo 3OH!3 opted to “go back to basics,” working in Nathaniel Motte’s basement studio in Boulder, Colo., without any particular plan for what came out.
“It was really how we did it in our early days,” Sean Foreman tells Billboard. “We just did everything and had the freedom to get experimental, a little weird, if we wanted. I remember asking Nat before we made the album, ‘Should we go in with a concept and shape it around the concept?’ And Nat told me, ‘No, man, let’s just write songs and take it song by song and not orient them in any way.’ So we just kept writing and didn’t think too much about the type of music we were creating.”
Foreman says he and Motte wound up with 28 songs, some of which will be used as B-sides or on deluxe versions of “Omens” while others, he says, “will never see the light of day — and shouldn’t. We definitely got crazy on some songs; I think there’s some stuff on there that we haven’t done before, but that was organic. We weren’t really trying to do anything.”
3OH!3 has so far unleashed “You’re Gonna Love This,” which Foreman acknowledges is “definitely a more poppy song” that was a spontaneous creation. “Nat had the beat practically produced,” Foreman recalls, “and we were writing these kind of rappy, fun lyrics for the verse. There’s this epic fill he has on the track, kind of like that Dolby SurroundSound, ‘the audience is listening’ kind of thing. When I was in the vocal booth, every time it would build up and drop out I would do the ‘You’re gonna love this!’ line. One time I said it in this really low voice and we cracked up, then said, ‘Should we just have that? Yeah, it’s funny!’ We’ve played it live a bunch of times, and it’s just as much fun.”
With the exception of some tracks with pal Greg Kurstin helping out, Foreman and Motte largely handled “Omens” themselves — and determinedly did not want to bring in guest vocalists this time, even though they’ve had success in the past with Katy Perry (“Starstrukk”) and Ke$ha (“My First Kiss”). “We love tons of people and always seek out new artists we love and want to work with, but this time we really wanted to put our foot forward as 3OH!3 and showcase what we can do,” Foreman explains. “That was the primary focus of the album, that we just got in there by ourselves and did what we wanted to do. I have no doubt we’ll work with people in the future, but this just felt like the right way to go about making this album.”
3OH!3 expects to release a second single before “Omens” comes out and is planning to tour extensively in 2013.