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The Writing’s on the Wall: Making Stuff with OK Go

Posted by July 17th, 2014 No Comments »

By Kevin Nelson

When most bands show up to make a video, they do just that—show up. When OK Go shows up to make a video, they actually make the video and everything involved in it.  The band takes this approach because they just really like making things.

“I think people don’t always realize that we make these things and we enjoy making these things,” said OK Go bassist and vocalist Tim Nordwind. “It may be a little bit unique in the sense that I don’t think every band likes to make their own videos. Just like we want people to like the record, we want people to like the videos.”

The new video for “The Writing’s on the Wall” shows off this maker philosophy by having a roaming camera follow the band around a warehouse through a series of brain-melting visual illusions, costume (and beard) changes and paint splatters that makes for a goofy, amazing time.

An intense video like this probably needs an intense production schedule with numerous takes. And, according to Nordwind, the process did take two and a half weeks to produce… but that’s because the band actually helped to design and construct the set. Nordwind focused his time transforming a combination of tires, guitars, mannequin legs, staplers and buckets that when viewed from a different angle reveals a perfect replica of Nordwind’s face. He “obsessed” with these random objects to ensure the replica appeared perfect.

While the band all served their roles and helped to make “The Writing’s on the Wall” such a visual treat, they did the same thing when they focused on making their new album, Hungry Ghosts, which will drop in mid-October.

Tim described Hungry Ghosts as a “slightly surreal” take on the pop sound OK Go developed on their first couple albums. He attributes this new take on the band to everyone becoming better at manipulating their sounds in post-production.

“We would get live tracks, but there was a lot of manipulation of those tracks afterwards. We manipulated and processed a lot of the live sounds until we got something that sounded new. “

That’s right; the band makes music live and then the band themselves makes the edits in post-production. Again, they really like making things.

This maker philosophy translates just as readily to an OK Go live show. The band wants to make the concert an event for its fans—that’s the only time the band gets to see the live reactions to their music.

“It’s awesome that so many people watch the videos and listen to the music, but we can never be around them when they’re doing that, so this is our chance to be in the same room,” said Nordwind.

While Nordwind remained elusive about what bits of spectacle they’ll bring to their upcoming shows, in order to maintain the surprise, he did mention how the band has worked out how to create some “The Writing’s on the Wall”-esque visual illusions that will involve drop down screens with video of various band members playing, when that member is actually in a whole different section of the room.

For its fans, OK Go makes its concerts an experience. Again, they really, really, really like making things. They’ll make this music happen on July 18 at Neumos (and for those who might miss this spectacle since The Hold Steady plays the same night, they’re also playing Vancouver on July 19 and Portland on July 20).


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