OK GO are ambassadors of a Chicago music scene that likes its pop music punk-free. But don’t be fooled by the band’s catchy melodies, good looks and self-deprecating humor: Their dark side is far more subtle and insidious.
Interview: Jason Pettigrew
They're handsome but not vacuous. They wear suits onstage, but they're
not tight-assed. They can postulate for hours on the history and importance
of rock music, but they have no problems breaking into a dance routine or enacting
chunks of Les Miserables onstage if the mood strikes them. Their music
is a pure pop vacuum that sucks you in, while the lyrics carry the propensity
to bum you out. And if you can't dig their scene, well, OK. Go.
For their second album, Oh No,
OK Go-singer/guitarist Damian
Kulash, drummer Dan Konopka, bassist Tim Norwind and guitarist Andy Duncan-decamped
to Malmö, Sweden, to record with producer Tor Johannsen (Franz Ferdinand,
the Cardigans) and mixer extraordinaire Dave Sardy (Jet, Marilyn Manson, Helmet).
Much more raw-sounding than their eponymous 2002 debut, Oh No has more in common
with classic glam and new wave than with faceless modern-rock radio drivel.
After the recording of Oh No,
Duncan quit the band, citing road-weariness. Andy "Rusty" Ross, a Columbia University student studying computer
programming, was enlisted from the friend-of-a-friend network to fill the vacancy.
Clearly, the members of OK Go are way cleverer than your average pop band:
When asked if Rusty went through any hazing rituals, Kulash was positively
brutal. "I designed a web program that will enable fans to send our songs
to their friends and win prizes," he says. "This is the kind of
thing that you have to pay professional programmers thousands of dollars to
do. So I tell him, 'Here's how it should work; here's a laptop;
and here's the back seat of the car.' Driving across South Dakota,
I did the graphic design, and he did the Flash coding." Shocking.
For the rest of the interview, pick up issue #207 below…