Copyright ©2010 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

If you've heard the band OK Go, it may have been on the internet.

OK GO (Band): (Singing) ...here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again. Oh, here it goes again.

BRAND: Viewers clicked on the band's 2006 video "Here It Goes Again" 50 million times. It shows four goofy guys on treadmills in skinny pants and neckties. They leap, jog, slide and duck from treadmill to treadmill. Three minutes of video led to nearly three years of non-stop touring. Next week, OK Go has a new album coming out. It's called "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky."

Singer Damian Kulash and bass player Tim Nordwind were inspired this time by a record they first played in elementary school: Prince's "Purple Rain."

(Soundbite of song "Darling Nikki")

PRINCE (Singer): (Singing) It said thank you for a funky time. Call me up whenever you want to grind.

Mr. TIM NORDWIND (Bass player, OK Go): I mean I remember hearing it as a 12-year-old kid and it made me jump on my bed. It made me feel like crying. It like - it really sort of fills a spectrum of emotions, which I think this record that we made kind of also does a little bit.

Mr. DAMIAN KULASH (Singer, OK Go): This is Damian, the singer. And what's weird about "Purple Rain" is that it's such a sexy record and I didn't know what any of that meant at 12, you know, like, when Nikki started to grind, I was like, she's got - she should get like a mouth guard or something.

I had no idea what he was talking about, but like, the emotional propulsion of that song is - I mean it's so raunchy even before you know what sex is, you know.

BRAND: Right, right. And even the way in one of the songs, I think it's "Skyscrapers," you shriek.

Mr. KULASH: Oh yeah, there's a real...

BRAND: That's a very Prince-y shriek.

Mr. KULASH: It is a very Prince-y shriek, yeah.

(Soundbite of song "Skyscrapers")

Mr. KULASH: (Singing) Yeah, I was blind. I was blind. I was blind.

BRAND: Now you recorded this album far, far away from where you live in Los Angeles.

Mr. KULASH: Yes.

Mr. NORDWIND: Yes, that's right. Yeah, this is Tim. Yeah, we recorded it in Fredonia, New York, which is almost Canada. We were basically locked up for 12 weeks in a converted Amish barn. There was like 24 feet of snow every day and I - there was some weeks where, you know, we just wouldn't even leave the cabin, 'cause we lived and recorded in this barn basically.

BRAND: So how much of the sound - this new sound, because the sound, it's got a lot of effects on it, and what's it called, with a guitar kind of sounding like it's...

Mr. NORDWIND: Exploding.

BRAND: Exploding, yeah. Or overmodulated.

Mr. NORDWIND: Yeah, there was a lot of plugging stuff in. You know, sort of like, that sounds awesome, let's plug in something else. So it makes it very spontaneous at the same time that it's very overthought, you know, and that's a good process for us 'cause we're people who tend to overthink everything.

BRAND: Give me an example off this album of some of that spontaneity that you just mentioned.

Mr. KULASH: The song "Skyscrapers..."

BRAND: Um-hum.

Mr. KULASH: The end of that song, the way we tracked that was Dan the drummer and me, Damian, I was playing guitar. At the end, Dan was supposed to sort of just watch me for a cue to end the song, but he'd gotten really, really into the groove and so the entire guitar solo at the end of that song, which is like 45 seconds, is me trying to get his attention, just trying to get him to look up. And I never would have written a guitar solo that way, but it's perfect for the song.

Mr. NORDWIND: Yeah, that is great.

BRAND: Should we hear it?

Mr. NORDWIND: Sure.

(Soundbite of music, "Skyscrapers")

Mr. KULASH: Look up, Dan.

(Soundbite of music, "Skyscrapers")

Mr. KULASH: Dan?

(Soundbite of music, "Skyscrapers")

Mr. KULASH: I mean if there's ever a cue to stop a song, it's like Dan, I'm not even playing, it was just...

Mr. NORDWIND: Yeah, it was just one man. Anytime.

(Soundbite of music, "Skyscrapers")

BRAND: Is it just me or is there a tone of melancholy throughout this album?

Mr. KULASH: The record sort of is kind of, I think, our attempt to find hope in hopeless situations. You know, we toured for 31 months on our last record and that basically destroys everything in your life.

Mr. NORDWIND: It takes a toll on you emotionally, personally.

BRAND: So you both sacrificed personal relationships for the band?

Mr. KULASH: Not intentionally necessarily, but it - yeah, you wind up three years later a totally different person unsure of how you've gotten there, kind of.

Mr. NORDWIND: And it's a strange thing to look back, and eventually we all sort of ended up at a point where all the sudden we were back at home sitting in some chair or in our bed going, like, oh my God did - I think we - I think we won a Grammy. I'm not quite sure, but I think I remember that.

Mr. KULASH: Well, and, you know, I hate being complaining, like, oh it's so difficult being on tour, because it's not. It's wonderful. I mean it's a dream come true, but you - sometimes when you get your dreams, then you realize, like, when you come back to real life, like, this is my life?

BRAND: Is there a song on this album that sort of gets at that, that moment where you get back you realize what do I have, what am I doing?

Mr. KULASH: Oh boy, I feel like a lot of the songs sort of have that.

BRAND: Yeah.

Mr. KULASH: I think the song that's closest to that is probably "Before the Earth Was Round."

Mr. NORDWIND: Um-hum.

Mr. KULASH: It's a sort of absurdist allegory where the whole world goes and they figure out the Earth is round. And they have knowledge now, and everything goes wrong because of it. And you know, they sort of lose - they lose mystery and poetry.

BRAND: The bite of the apple.

Mr. KULASH: Yes, it is the bite of the apple, exactly.

(Soundbite of music)

OK GO: (Singing) Before the earth was round, and there was no end to things. No one tried to measure what they knew...

Mr. KULASH: The challenge for us personally, especially in making this record was to keep it creative and to be looking for the things that actually turn us on creatively, as opposed to following the pattern that works.

BRAND: Um-hum.

Mr. KULASH: Because even when you're not wildly successful financially, and even when you're not at the top of the charts, anything that works gives everybody a reason to sort of push you in the direction of that thing that worked and you can spend your life sort of imitating yourself.

And it - and we had some things on our last record that were wildly successful and coming home and trying to figure out how to play the part of yourself, you know, like, how am I going to be that person that wrote this thing four or five years ago and who I just don't associate myself with at all anymore. It takes like some pretty big acts of courage, I think, to just be like, I am not going to do anything like I did last time.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. KULASH: We'd been having to describe this record - it's really difficult because it's a very like contradictory record. It's the happiest thing we've ever made and the saddest thing we've ever made. It's - we're proud of it. That part's good.

Mr. NORDWIND: Whatever it is.

Mr. KULASH: Yeah.

BRAND: Well, thank you both for coming in.

Mr. NORDWIND: You're welcome. Thanks for having us.

Mr. KULASH: Thank you.

BRAND: That's Damian Kulash and Tim Nordwind of the band OK Go.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: You can find a link to their latest music video and the making of it at npr.org.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.