Chicago band, with its own brand of pop zeitgeist, capitalizes on the 20 million hits its treadmill video "Here It Goes Again" has had on YouTube.com.
Haven’t heard of the band OK Go?
How about if I tell you they’re the guys dancing on the treadmills in that
OK, now you know who I’m talking about.
OK Go’s video for “Here It Goes Again,” a carefully choreographed romp atop
eight motorized treadmills, has been viewed more than 20 million times on
It’s silly. It’s iconic. It’s pop zeitgeist.
“Twenty million downloads is incredible,” OK Go vocalist, guitarist and
songwriter Damian Kulash, 31, says with dazed pride. “It’s really hard to
gauge popularity these days. There’s so many ways bands can exist.
“That’s what I love about the music industry right now,” he says, phoning
from Chicago. “The industry part is in freefall and imploding, which means
that what you hear tends to survive on merit more than 10 years ago. It’s
great to see The Shins and Modest Mouse and LCD Soundsystem breaking
Despite the runaway Internet successes of their treadmill video - and the
similarly agile, dance-filled clip for “A Million Ways” - OK Go has sold
just about a half-million copies combined of its two CDs, “OK Go” (2002)
and “Oh No” (2005).
The sum bothers Kulash not a bit. “We’re doing totally fine. We operate at a
pretty great level,” he says. “A half million is certainly more people than
I can picture in one room. It’s more people than my mom got to buy our CD.”
BAND OUT OF TIME?
With its flair for memorable music videos and crazily infectious pop-rock
tunes, OK Go seems like a band from the days when MTV ruled the rock scene.
“When we started in 1999 and 2000, we were way out of kilter with what was
on the radio or the hipster hits of indie rock,” Kulash says. “We were in
Chicago, which was the snottiest art-music scene around. We were like, 'Man,
we should’ve been here in 1985.’ But at the same time, now is a really great
time to be in a rock band. I would be an idiot to complain.”
Given the vigorous dance routines in OK Go’s videos, it seems natural to ask
if the guys are trained dancers. “Not in any traditional sense, like jazz,
modern or ballet,” Kulash says. “But just as clearly, Tim (Norwind, the
bespectacled bassist) has that certain je nais se quois. He knows how to
move, if a bit strangely. Some of the charm of the videos is how hard you
see our drummer concentrating. How human and fallible.”
There are now more than 200 homemade videos of “A Million Ways” posted
online, Kulash says. Fans have adapted the band’s dance moves to a variety
of clever settings.
“They’re so amusing. We started giving out awards,” he says. “Some people
did it as part of the Christmas pageant at their church. The animals in the
manger started doing (the dance) while a woman is singing 'O Little Town of
Bethlehem.’ People did it with mattresses, someone tried to do it
underwater. Someone sent in a clip of a professional skating duo from
MOVING RIGHT ALONG
Despite the welcome popularity of its cheeky videos, OK Go is clearly about
making music. “That’s not a career we want to have -- Internet superstars,”
Kulash says. “Our design is not to have an online dance company.”
From dance to another non-music topic: fashion. OK Go has a distinctive
style off dress. Does that come naturally to Kulash and company?
“I feel that’s a question you’d have to ask an objective outsider,” he says.
“I do think clothes are fun, and I’m happy I don’t have to wear a uniform
“I used to be a card-carrying indie rocker at some point, and I remember
feeling oppressed by my closet. It was like, 'Which pair of tattered jeans
and which of my many gray T-shirts should I wear today?’ If I’m going to
wear the same thing every day, it might as well be a sharp suit.”
To sample OK Go’s music and famed videos, visit www.youtube.com and search
for OK Go. The band’s official Web site is: www.okgo.net