By: Amy Aiello
I think I may have had a little bit too much fun talking with Tim and Dan of OK GO, and I even feel a bit guilty for taking so much of their time (a full half hour chat!). I blame both of them for being so easy and fun to chat with, and throwing questions right back to me to make this an all around interview. I even got to catch up with Dan’s wife after the interview was over with (who, by the way, is a very sweet, lovely and talented woman).
We spent a bit of time talking about the important stuff: pancakes vs waffles, gummy bears vs apples, chocolate or tart candies (like sour patch kids). The guys gave me a tip to try this Pink Berry place out in LA next time I venture out there (think TCBY, Chicagoans old enough to remember that frozen yogurt haven).
TIM: I’m a huge pink berry nut. I don’t know if you have pink berry in Chicago; it’s like the number one yogurt place in LA. I get chocolate pink berry with cap’n crunch and oreo.
CMG: Does it still cut the roof of your mouth?
OK: it sure does! The taste is worth it
CMG: Berry berry or regular?
TIM: Regular. I liked the berry one when I was a kid. I think kids are drawn to the berries because it’s more colorful; more fruity, more sugar.
But the progression of our half hour chat was all over the board. Tim is a great story teller:
TIM: We as a band love the movie casino. We once had a van in the UK that we traveled in that had a VCR in it but only two video tapes. One was Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the other was Casino. I think watched casino every day pretty much from beginning to end almost two weeks straight. We tried to watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it did not fit the vibe. We always ended up saying, “Let’s just watch casino.”
CMG: REALLY? That’s kind of surprising.
TIM: Well, Casino’s violent, but there’s also this pretty amazing storyline to it, and pretty great acting. I recently got to meet Robert DiNiro. I was pretty aside myself. Dan and I did this sort of reinterpretation of this scene in Casino that’s online. I wanted to say, “I’ve played you before…” it wasn’t appropriate. He didn’t want to talk to me. We had this meeting with an architect in London whose next meeting was with Robert DiNiro. As we were leaving he was walking in, and he just wanted to get to his meeting. We had very similar beards.
Are you smiling or even confused at the sheer randomness of this interview yet? We chatted about places to go when the band comes back to Chicago, their hometown, and found ourselves talking about jobs in the service industry.
DAN: I was a bartender for about 6 years before the band was busy enough. I actually when I left, I don’t know if I can show this to you (shows tattoo).. as an ode to bartending I got a cocktail sword tattooed on my shoulder which says I’ll never go back. No. But… I loved bartending. It helps you; it gives you more opportunities to encounter and deal with on edge and pretty crazy people. So when you finally get into relationships with people who aren’t so crazy, you’re usually better at it. I feel that I can be in relationships with people in a better way because I’ve dealt with so many nasty drunks.
CMG: How has success played a role in your personalities and shyness/outgoingness?
TIM: I started as a pretty shy kid, which still kind of comes out in certain situations, but… I got into theatre really early on. I sort of learned how to play other characters to get over my shyness. Now I don’t know who I am anymore. Yeah. Hundreds of thousands of psychologists bills later…
I think what we’ve done has helped grounded us as people. I don’t think anything we’ve done has changed us. I’ve known dan since I was 18, and I’m 35 now. I’ve known Damian since I was 11. We’re all pretty much the same. No one’s really changed all that much.
DAN: I think we’re getting better. I think we’re getting better looking. I was an ugly kid. And at 24? UGLY!!! We had more hair, didn’t really know what to do with it… And Tim. Tim looks better than he ever has. Tim is a HOT dude. You’re hot right now.
TIM: Thanks Dan! Dan has always been a very beautiful man. Since day one; since the first time I ever laid eyes on him. We’re sort of getting into a blind beauty right now.
TIM: We just shot this video where we had to wear these one piece unitards. We had to wear dance belts. I don’t know if you know what dance belts are; they’re basically like male thongs.
CMG: Well it’s fun for the ladies to look at; you know, like the ballet
TIM: yeah but they have dancer bodies. We have like rocker drink beer bodies.
CMG: But you’re on a diet though, right?
DAN: Yeah you look good. You look hot!
Check out the latest video from OK GO, and stay tuned to their website for their latest acts of randomness.
In the year since EMI issued OK Go’s acclaimed third album, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, the Los Angeles quartet has gone from being a rare young light on a major label to arguably the world’s most bleeding edge independent outfit. You probably know the bit about the treadmills by now (if not, you can read Ira Glass’s account below), but one can authoritatively say that those trusty treadmills shot the band into both better health and a technicolor zone beyond the hoary indie-versus-major debate.
Billboard called them “trailblazing,” the head of Apple’s marketing said they were “the first post-internet band, the first band to use the internet as a medium of art, not just commerce.” BusinessWeek praised their new model of “proactive creative types… looking beyond traditional parameters to get support for their work.” OK Go’s project is one of the modern age, of unlimited possibility, where infectious songs, inventive videos, surprising live shows, and an articulate, forward-thinking back-end combine into a total work by a defiantly do-it-yourself band without a shoestring budget. The band says they just like “making stuff.”
In a series of surprising partnerships, companies like State Farm, Samsung, Flip Camera, and Range Rover have stepped into the role that major labels once occupied: investing in the band’s berserker videos (like the 18-million-views-and-growing /UK-MVA-Best-Rock-Video-winning Rube Goldberg-esque masterpiece for “This Too Shall Pass”) and sold-out tours. Moreover, the band have emerged with an unprecedented level of independence, simultaneously bypassing a dying industry’s gate-keepers with creative aplomb and forging the kind of three-dimensional band/audience relationship only fantasized about by social networking consultants.
The band’s very public dispute with EMI about fans’ rights to embed the band’s videos landed them square in the crosshairs of contemporary culture. Kulash has penned editorials for The Times of London, The New
York Times, and The Washington Post. “I’ve heard about nerdy being hip, but I’ve never known that just plain boring can be hip,” Stephen Colbert noted of the deal with the not-known-for-their-non-boringness State Farm, which funded the assuredly not boring “This Too Shall Pass” video. “This is a new level of hipness!” Colbert concluded.
As befitting any band that recently parted ways with a venerable multinational corporation with their master tapes intact, OK Go also recently launched their own imprint, Paracadute. Not surprisingly, there’s a new version of Blue Colour loaded with the expected demos, covers, live jams, and 12-track remix set, but also access to an online database where the band will continue to expand the album, still a breathing, growing entity.
Recorded with longtime Flaming Lips collaborator Dave Fridmann and named for a gorgeously quacky 19th century text, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky is not to be forgotten. Entertainment Weekly praised it as a ”sing-along for hipsters who remember how to party unironically” and The Onion’s AV Club called it “mature, compelling, and totally unexpected.” MTV’s Newsroom went as far as calling it the “best album of the year (so far).”
Nothing but blue ahead.