They've coordinated ultra-complex routines on treadmills, constructed and performed inside an elaborate Rube Goldberg Machine, danced with 12 dogs, and coordinated a warehouse full of optical illusions – all in epic, single-take videos. They also make pop music, of course, but it's those perfect, hyper-complicated videos that skyrocketed this Chicago-born band into the pop culture stratosphere.
OK Go will hit Deluxe at Old National Centre next Thursday. Here's a portion of our interview with bassist Tim Nordwind.
NUVO: So you guys are obviously known for your quirky, creative music videos. Tell me a bit about when those started.
Tim Nordwind: Well, I've known Damien, a singer in the band, since I was 11. We met at a creative arts summer camp in Northern Michigan. We have been friends ever since, and a lot of our friendship has been based off of making things. We've been making videos with our parents' cameras and writing songs for ages, like 27 years now. For the last 15 years we've been doing it under the name of OK Go, but we were doing it well before that. And you know, we love making music, but we also love performing, making short films, all sorts of different artistic endeavors and collaborations.
NUVO: Do your lyrics go with the videos, or are they separate artistic ideas?
Nordwind: When we write music, we aren't thinking about how we'll perform it or what would make the best video. We're more thinking about how the music makes you feel, how it sounds. Typically, a lot of the times, the lyrics don't necessarily coincide with the visual concepts. However, that being said, we just put out a new video for our first single on our new record, called "Writing On The Wall," which is a video of perspective tricks and anamorphic images and things like that. The end of the video is a huge anamorphic image that says "The writing's on the wall," and I think this is one video where visually it does match what the lyrics are about. The lyrics are about a couple sort of breaking up, but wanting to have one more moment together. The reason they're breaking up is because they can't seem to see the same thing the same way. In order to do that, you have to be really aligned, and that goes well with the idea of doing all these perspective tricks.
NUVO: What was the video that was the most fun for you?
Nordwind: It's hard to pick a favorite. They're all so unique in their own ways. Every time we do one, I'm like, "Wow, this is not like any of the others. This does not remind me of any of our other experiences." The very first one, that was a predecessor to "Here It Goes Again," it's just us doing a dance routine in the backyard for a song called "A Million Ways." That one has a true innocence to it, in the way that we had made up that dance for our live shows, and that video was really just a rehearsal tape so we could see what the dance looked like. We thought it was really charming, with all our mistakes, so we put the music with it and sent it to our friends. And our friends sent it around, and before we knew it, it had gone somewhat viral. And I love the Rube Goldberg Machine, because we kind of made the impossible possible. It's not so much about having a favorite; we're just lucky that we've been able to chase these ideas we've had and be able to execute them. The process by which we do that is always amazing.
NUVO: Do you consider your live performances anything like your videos, in terms of creativity and execution?
Nordwind: Yeah, yeah we just spent like the last month and a half putting together a new live show, and there's a lot of new technology involved. There's crowd participation, a lot of multimedia stuff happening, and of course a lot of new music to play with some of the older songs. The live show that we're touring on right now was made very much in the spirit of how we make our records and videos.