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OK Go band member talks upcoming concert

By AMANDA AUBLE | March 26, 2015


After releasing their latest album Hungry Ghosts in October, pop-rock group OK Go will bring their ongoing tour to Baltimore’s Rams Head Live! on Sunday, April 12.

Band members Damian Kulash, Tim Nordwind and Dan Konopka formed OK Go in Chicago in 1998, and Andy Ross joined the lineup in 2005. The band has currently released four studio albums, but they are particularly recognized for their elaborate and quirky music videos that have circulated all over the Internet. Nordwind, the band’s bassist and vocalist, recently spoke to The News-Letter to discuss OK Go and their latest live performances since they will soon be stopping in Baltimore.

“We hardly ever come to Baltimore so I’m excited,” Nordwind said. “I think in the 16 years we’ve been a band we’ve played there once or twice, so I’m happy to be coming back there.”

Although fans are used to seeing OK Go perform concise choreography or elaborate optical illusions in their music videos, the band does not aim to recreate their videos live. So, unfortunately, fans cannot expect to see any enormous Rube Goldberg machines or even treadmills onstage. Nevertheless, Ok Go’s live performance aims to harness the audience’s energy with an interactive focus.

“We look at the live shows as a wholly unique and individual experience,” Nordwind said. “But I think a lot of what goes into creating the record and the videos, the spirit of that is different than the live show. We have a whole brand new live show now and it’s very interactive and multimedia. There’s a lot appealing to the senses in our live show. It’s not so much about needing to get the videos we make into the show, but getting the spirit and the fun of making those things still exists in the live show.”

Along with supplying entertaining stage effects and light shows, OK Go plans to break some of the established rules of concert performance and make personalized connections with the audience.

“We have upped our game on the light show spectrum. There’s a ton of confetti,” Nordwind said. “But we also do things where we make songs with the audience and we play songs in the audience. We literally stop and do question-and-answer sessions with the audience and literally just talk to people. Sometimes we bring them up on stage. There are little short films that we show. There’s a surprise around most every corner.”

Concert-goers can also expect to hear new songs from Hungry Ghost that move away from the band’s previous focus on rock instrumentals. In their latest album, OK Go fuses their signature rock sound with noticeably more techno beats and electronic rhythms.

“This record definitely is the most electronic that we’ve made,” Nordwind said. “In my mind it’s still very much a rock and roll record, but this time around I think, production wise, we went a little more on the electronic front.”



”It's fun to be able to work within sort of an electronic palette though, and it really opens up the amount of sounds we can play with, and I love the sonic world of EDM. I think EDM and hip hop are at the cutting edge of music technology so its fun to be able to mix that in with what we do as well.”

Nordwind explained that much of the band’s evolving electronic sound comes from the technology they utilize while working on and revising their music.

“Some of [the electronic sound] was due in part to the fact that a lot of the writing that we’ve been doing has been from the road or whenever we have the day off from the set of a video or something like that. Usually what we have are our computers and our music software,” he said. “We’ve had to do a lot of demos just through programming, which inherently just make things a bit more electronic. I think when we were programing our demos we were feeling like ‘Well, I’m going to put in the sound where the real guitar is going to be, and when we get to the studio and we’ll put the guitar in.’ But once we got to the studio and everything, the sounds we put in, for instance where the guitar was supposed to go, seemed more interesting than just traditional guitar. We just kind of ran with that so the record started feeling electronic because of it.”

When asked which aspect of the musical process he preferred, studio sessions or live performances, Nordwind explained his outlook on the creativity involved in each.

“I think it depends on what point in the process you ask me that question. I love both. I think maybe I prefer the studio a little bit more just because every day is about being creative in the studio. Playing live that’s kind of the case, but after like the fifth week of traveling it gets a little tiring. And sometimes it can feel like at one point you were very creative, but once the show’s up and running its not a surprise to me anymore and it feels like we’re not being as creative as we could be. I do love playing live and our new show very much keeps us on our toes. I think I will not get tired of it any time soon.”

OK Go has also released their newest videos to songs on the Hungry Ghosts album, including “I Won’t Let You Down” and “The Writings on the Wall.” Both provide elaborate performances, which remind and build upon their original choreography in “Here It Goes Again,” which features band members jumping between and dancing on treadmills.

“We get to work with some really amazing collaborators. Throughout the years we’ve just been able to find really excellent people, who see the world in very interesting ways. Whether they’re dog trainers or scientists or a Japanese dance crew — whoever it is — we’ve just been really lucky to work with some very excellent people. I’ve enjoyed being able to see the world through their eyes and to be able to create something with them.”

As their videos have racked up millions of views over time and evolved into more elaborate scenes, OK Go has experienced more control and influence in the video creation process.

“I’m glad that people have responded so well since we’ve started kind of taking control of our own videos because I think that’s given us the confidence to go on and experiment with the records we make and experiment with the videos we make and experiment with the live production in our show. To follow the things that we think are cool and trust our instincts,” Nordwind said.

Along with continuing their 2015 tour, OK Go plans to explore other entertainment mediums like television in the future. OK Go fans can expect much more to come from the band.

“Obviously we’ll keep making records, but we’re developing a couple ideas for television right now. We’ll see if they’ll happen,” Nordwind said. “We’re thinking of possibly creating a festival — that maybe won’t be this year but hopefully for next year — and play around the country a little bit.”

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