A Forever Ingenious Quartet
By: Chris Kreitz
For decades, music videos have acted as publicity for artists as well as a combination of audio and visual art to create a sub form of media. OK Go is an alternative rock band from Chicago who began their legacy on the music scene in 2002 with their debut album, “OK GO”. The band is particularly noted for their psychedelic wardrobe and ingenious music videos. The head of Apple’s marketing said they were “the first band to use the internet as a medium of art, not just commerce.”
Damian Kulash is the man responsible for the formation of this revolutionary group. The vocalist met bassist Tim Nordwind at an arts camp when they were 11. The two kept in touch, exchanging mix tapes which would eventually influence their future sound. The duo lacked a drummer and an additional guitarist, however with the drafting of guitarist Andy Duncan and drummer Dan Konopka, the band was completed in 1998.
The band has been in and out of the spotlight since 2005 with their chart topping album, “Oh No”. The band’s video for “Here It Goes Again” won a Grammy Award for “Best Short-Form Music Video” in 2007 as well as YouTube’s “Most Creative Video” in 2006. The one-take music video directed by Trish Sie took only twenty-five dollars to produce, but managed to influence millions. The simplistic yet ingenious concept involves the band choreographed to the song as they glide from treadmill to treadmill. The position of each treadmill alternates and every other machine is flipped in the opposite direction, allowing the quartet to weave in an out as well as switch sides.
After being dropped from Capitol Records, the band signed with Paracadute Records with whom they released their third studio album, “Of the Blue Color of the Sky”. With the comeback album came the hit single, “Needing/Getting”, which tells a simple story of a man’s pilgrimage to love, only to take a wrong turn and realize that his love interest does not return his love. “We’ve done some pretty crazy videos, but we’ve also never done anything through this scope,” tells bassist Tim Nordwind in a behind the scenes documentary of the band’s latest music video, “Needing/Getting”. The band spent weeks in a warehouse experimenting with sounds and trying to figure out the physics of instruments. On February 5th, 2012, the largely anticipated music video premiered on live television during Super Bowl XLVI. Audiences were in awe.
The video begins with a shot of the band donning green, red, yellow, and blue jumpsuits along with heavy duty helmets. “You guys ready?” asks Kulash from the drivers seat of the brand new 2012 Chevy Sonic. “Ready,” replies the bandmates as the vehicle drives across a track, colliding with xylophone keys which initiates the song. “This video is unique in that the visuals actually are going to be the sounds,” states front man Damian Kulash. At this point in the video, the suspense has risen and the viewer is doubting the overall video, but at once, the vehicle revs up and an array of over 50 pianos lines its path. Bars one each side of the car detonate the notes on the pianos as the song progresses and the Chevy Sonic speeds through the course. Wind chimes are added to the tune as giant microphones on all sides of the car capture their sound.
The vehicle is whipped around a corner and a mechanical arm erects from the top of the car as it speeds up and drives through a dome-like track of jars, utensils, and chimes. The GoPro cameras on the front of the vehicle capture a meadow of over 250 guitars lining the sides of the path. The fast paced strumming of the guitars morphs together and sounds like racket. Melodic racket. The vehicle is thrown in reverse and an acapella segment follows just before the song picks back up. The Chevy travels the last quarter mile through another dome of homemade instruments before being whipped back to the starting line. Dust surrounds the vehicle as the camera crew informs, “Got it.”
From the time that OK Go stepped onto the music scene, they have basked in overbearing success. “Here It Goes Again” won the band a Grammy and was featured in Rock Band, Guitar Hero 5, and SSX on Tour. 55 pianos, 280 guitars, and more than 1200 homemade instruments went into the creation of “Needing/Getting”, not to mention hundreds of hours strategically planning and timing out the three and a half mile course. The creativity of OK Go has been mocked by other bands, but they have failed to deliver such timeless work as consistently as OK Go. The band is truly a pioneer of modern artistry, and their decade of success has changed the music world forever.