RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UPSIDE DOWN AND INSIDE OUT")
OK GO: (Singing) Upside down and inside out and you can feel it...
MARTIN: If when you hear a song by OK Go you conjure up thoughts of a gigantic Rube Goldberg device or treadmills or drones or perfectly executed dance routines, then you know that this is a band that is masterful at coming up with amazingly creative music videos. And they have done it again. Their most recent video, for the very appropriately titled song "Upside Down And Inside Out," was filmed in zero gravity.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UPSIDE DOWN AND INSIDE OUT")
OK GO: (Singing) I wish I had said the things you thought that I had said.
MARTIN: It was directed by lead singer Damian Kulash and his sister Trish Sie. They join us now from our studios at NPR West in Culver City. Welcome to the show you two.
DAMIAN KULASH: Hi, thanks for having us.
TRISH SIE: Hi.
MARTIN: So I'm going to ask you, Damian, if you don't mind, describe the video. You're in a plane.
KULASH: We're in a plane, and there is no gravity.
MARTIN: (Laughter) And shenanigans ensue.
KULASH: Shenanigans ensue. What we did is we went on those parabolic flights, which people like to call the vomit comet. Basically, the plane throws you up into the air and catches you. And for about 30 seconds, you feel like there's no gravity. So what we did was we did a series of eight of those in a row. And every time we landed, we stayed perfectly still for the five minutes in between while the plane is setting up so that we could just continue the routine where we had left off. So the final video you see is all one take. And we seem to be weightless the entire time.
MARTIN: It is one take?
KULASH: It is one take.
MARTIN: Wow, that's pretty amazing. So there are all kinds of things that could have gone wrong though, I imagine. Did just nothing - it all went according to plan?
KULASH: All those things that could go wrong did.
SIE: Yeah and more - things that couldn't go wrong did.
MARTIN: Give me an example, Trish.
SIE: So the overhead bins - this is not a real passenger plane. We wanted it to look like a real passenger plane. But we're actually inside a very heavy-duty, industrial, like, cargo plane. And we built this set inside of it. And it's surprisingly difficult to build fake overhead bins, especially ones that, you know, you can open really easily - because when you're floating around, you don't have any traction, obviously. So you can't grab things and yank on them 'cause you'd just fly in the opposite direction.
SIE: So we had to have really easy-release overhead bins.
KULASH: That don't pop open when there's no gravity.
SIE: Right. And then there's no gravity, and they pop open. So the overhead bins were always flapping around like sort of a demented, like, Loch Ness monster in the black of the plane.
MARTIN: (Laughter) Like a mouth, yeah.
SIE: Yeah, these gaping maws. And then on top of that, there would be, like, suitcases tumbling out and disco balls tumbling out.
MARTIN: But that was on purpose, right? Like, there were pinatas and bags of balls, and it looked, like, intentional.
KULASH: Kind of the plan is to go, get everything to go wrong, and see what looks best, then do it again.
SIE: Yeah. I mean, let me tell you; opening cans of chili in zero gravity to see how it looks, that's something that went wrong.
MARTIN: Did you try that?
KULASH: We did.
SIE: We tried it.
KULASH: We tried - like, we could spend two hours in here with you going through the things we tried.
SIE: But the short answer is, nothing went wrong (laughter).
MARTIN: It was perfect. Did - Damian - you have any motion sickness? Like, did anyone else...
KULASH: We all felt some nausea. I did actually pass out once.
SIE: It was gnarly.
KULASH: It was gnarly. My issue was that I had just done a giant bunch of spins. And we go - I land. That's right when the double gravity happens. And I think all the blood basically just rushed out of me. But I passed out. And my face is right to camera at that moment. And the footage of it is...
SIE: Gruesome - it's gruesome.
KULASH: I thought it would be funny. I was like, it'll be funny to watch that. And my face turns into the face of a different person. Like, it actually turns a sort of different shape.
SIE: It did. And your eyes were rolling different directions.
KULASH: My eyes were rolling different directions.
SIE: You turned, like, a really weird shade of green.
MARTIN: That sounds bad.
KULASH: Yeah, it's - anyways, it's not funny to watch.
SIE: But you didn't puke.
KULASH: I didn't puke. I will say that the lead cosmonaut trainer - I mean, we were working with professional cosmonaut trainers outside of Moscow. And the lead one, at the end of the project, announced to the entire group that he wanted Trish to be on his team forevermore.
SIE: I feel he announced he wanted you on his team as well. I think he in fact said that we are the only two he found fit to be astronauts, which is ridiculous because we are far from fit from being astronauts. So you can imagine what was going on up there.
MARTIN: What do you do next? I mean, I' sure everyone asks you this. But still, when you're trying to do the next cool thing, and this was so huge and crazy...
KULASH: You can't ever try to top yourself, like as a sort of career course.
KULASH: It is really hard to imagine how you get crazier than this. But that's not actually the axis on which we're thinking. We're just thinking, what can we do that'll be fun? Like, what can we do that will be thrilling and artistically challenging?
SIE: I think that's the critical point to the way you guys do videos, and it's the - it's fun - because if you do something you think is fun, that's why you'll put in the time. That's why you'll put in the work. And that's why that sort of joy and exuberance becomes infectious - because you were truly having fun. So just thinking of an idea that you think people will love or that's going to really make an impact isn't nearly as effective as just, what do I want to do? And what can I spend a ton of time doing and still be totally into?
MARTIN: Where can we go play? Yeah.
SIE: Right, where can we go play? That's pretty much it.
MARTIN: OK Go's Damian Kulash and Trish Sie, who directed the music video for "Upside Down And Inside Out." You two, it's been so fun. Thanks so much for talking with us.
SIE: Really fun, thank you.
KULASH: Thank you.
MARTIN: And if you want to check out that video from OK Go - and I know you do - go to WEEKEND EDITION's Facebook page. There's no chili, but it's still pretty cool.
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