After the overwhelming success of the video for its 2006 song "Here It Goes Again," in which its four band members execute a tightly choreographed dance routine built around a handful of treadmills, OK Go has lofty standards to live up to. With roughly 50 million views on YouTube, "Here It Goes Again" stands as one of the most popular music videos of the Internet era.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, the band set about constructing a painstakingly executed two-story Rube Goldberg machine, set to trigger in time to the music for its latest video, "This Too Shall Pass." Although it starts out small, with a toy truck knocking over some dominoes, the contraptions that make up the machine rapidly get larger and much more complex — pianos are dropped, shopping carts come crashing down ramps, and one band member is launched headlong through a wall of boxes. After assembling a team of dozens of engineers to construct the set, more than 60 takes were needed to get everything working just right during filming.
Since the advent of streaming Internet video outlets such as YouTube, bands and record labels have repeatedly been at odds over how to address the issue that, when a user watches a video online, no money is generated for the label or the band. In an interview with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel, OK Go singer-songwriter-guitarist Damian Kulash says that he — and the rest of the band — view videos not as a potential source of income, but rather as another creative outlet.
"This is all sort of part of the creative project for us," he says. "I mean, the animating passion for us is to get up and chase down our craziest ideas, and sometimes those are filmic, and sometimes they're purely sounds."
The band's label, EMI, didn't see things the same way. In an effort to maintain some control over the dissemination of the music video, EMI denied listeners the ability to embed it on their own Web sites and blogs. After receiving a deluge of complaints, the band eventually persuaded EMI to enable embedding. Soon afterward, however, OK Go parted ways with EMI to start its own record label, Paracadute.