Finding Inspiration in Unavoidable Distractions With OK Go

Between releasing their latest video, performing at Bonnaro, taking a trip to Art Basel and participating in a rather impressive staring contest with a Muppet, our friends at OK Go have been pretty darn busy.

Bass player Tim Nordwind was kind enough to take a break and answer a few questions (thanks Tim!) about our conference theme, happy accidents, and of course, their thoughts on lobster rolls. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for PopTech 2010.

The theme of PopTech 2010 is Brilliant Accidents, Necessary Failures and Improbable Breakthroughs. Which do you most identify with?

Between Brilliant Accidents, Necessary Failures, and Improbable Breakthroughs, it’s hard to pick just one that we most identify with. They all sound pretty right on to me. Might I also add to this list Unavoidable Distractions? Our band finds inspiration in a million different ways; whether it’s about being in the wrong place at the right time, the right time at the wrong place, it’s that moment when you see something, hear something, feel something and get an uncontrollable interest and excitement in an idea. From there, for us, it is absolutely about coming up with rules and parameters to push against, and it’s not always what works that is going to be most exciting about the idea. It is oftentimes the accidents, the failures, and pushing an idea so far that it breaks into something you had never thought about that ends up being the inspiration you weren’t even looking for that drives your idea home. That’s an exciting place to be.

Okay…now tell us about your biggest failure.

Our happiest accident was choreographing a dance routine to do live at the end of our shows, and making a rehearsal tape of us doing the dance in our singer Damian’s back yard. Upon playback we recognized an immediate charm in watching four dudes who can’t dance, dance. So we dubbed the music, a song called A Million Ways To Be Cruel onto the clip, and sent a link to friends to watch. We thought of it as a rehearsal tape. It was our friends who suggested that the rehearsal tape should be the video for that song. We weren’t quite sure what to think about that at first. It surely wouldn’t fit on MTV’s rigid format of glossy videos where the band shows up like a shiny new Audi car, advertising their brand new record. And because it wouldn’t fit on MTV our label obviously wasn’t going to like it. But, within weeks we started hearing that friends of friends of friends had seen the video, people we didn’t know, and that it was starting to go viral. Before we knew it industry magazines like Entertainment Weekly were writing about it, Good Morning America wanted to talk about it, a festival in Moscow where our record wasn’t even out wanted to book us, and somehow that had become the dawn of viral music videos.

Your insanely viral hit video “Here It Goes Again” was shot on a borrowed video camera. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory helped produce your most recent “This Too Shall Pass” video. That is quite a technological leap. How’d it happen?

The leap in technology was never really the propelling force behind working with the fine people at Synn Labs many of whom work at NASA and JPL. We were interested in making a Rube Goldberg machine that could be synchronized and dance to the music. Damian, wrote a job description that he posted to a couple of technology blogs. We were hoping to find one or two people who could help us build this Rube Goldberg machine. What we got in response was an impressive proposal from a group of about twelve scientists and technologists, Synn Labs. We couldn’t really afford to hire twelve people, but they told us to not worry, and we’d figure it out. From there we spent the next two months in the conceptual stages, and then spent the following four months building the machine in a three story warehouse in Echo Park, CA. We wanted the technology in the video to actually be quite simple and beautiful, hoping to avoid the machine looking too slick or magical. It was important to us for the machine’s process to be transparent in the spirit of capturing the true excitement of the live event.

What can we expect to see and hear from you at the PopTech this year?

We will probably look and sound like friendly robots on a goodwill mission demonstrating ways in which we are helpful and make for good friends. I mean you know, if I were to guess. To be honest, I know you probably can’t tell by my convincing reply, but we haven’t quite figured out what we will be doing at PopTech. But, we’re psyched to work it out.

Lastly, lobster rolls. Yeah or Nay?

Hellz to the mothertruckin’ YEAH!

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