OK Go makes the impossible possible
Their new album breaks free from labels.
OK Go is the type of band that major record labels love to hate. They make explosively popular videos in their backyards from practically nothing, write op-eds in major newspapers dissecting the flaws of today's record label format and speak before Congress on net neutrality. So it did not come as a big surprise when the band decided to leave EMI Music and Capitol Records after releasing Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, a beat-driven dance album. It did surprise the music industry when the band started Paracadute Recordings, its own distribution company and label.
"We wanted to create a distribution company for ourselves that distributes any good idea that we might have, whether it be an album or barbeque sauce," bassist Tim Nordwind said. "Major labels aren't really set up to do much more than CDs, so we wanted to set up something that could distribute whatever ideas we have."
Ideas are something these Los Angeles-via-Chicago genre-hoppers have made their name with. From viral videos for "Here It Goes Again" and "This Too Shall Pass," OK Go finds its success in taking an idea and running with it. But how do they know if the idea is worth the risk?
"You can sort of tell by the gleam in our eyes," Nordwind said. "We like to chase down our best and wildest ideas. We try to make the impossible possible."
No strangers to taking risks, the band wrote songs for Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky by taking a beat and a mood and seeing how it developed, rather than dictating its outcome as they had for past records.
"We would define what we were going to make before we made it, and this time around we didn't want to define anything," Nordwind said. "We just wanted to follow the feeling and have the songs come out that way."
Of The Blue Colour of The Sky has a sound as unique as its writing process, featuring influences such as Prince, Michael Jackson and Neutral Milk Hotel.
Working with producer Dave Fridmann also shaped the sound of songs on Of The Blue Colour of The Sky. Fridmann, who has produced for The Flaming Lips, is known for his sonic universe, Nordwind said.
"There's no way we would have sounded like this if we worked with anyone else," Nordwind said. "A lot of the sounds on the record are sounds that we came up with one day and were very hard to duplicate the next day. I love the record for that reason."
Due to the somewhat unpredictable paths songs took during the writing process, the band found it difficult to sit back and let the simple combination of a beat and mood flesh out into an album track.
"There were a lot of songs that were mysteries to us at first," Nordwind said.
Although they might not be topping the Billboard charts, the band has cultivated success through its music and creativity throughout their career.
"I think the success we've experienced has been cumulative," Nordwind said. "We have a lot of good fans, people are coming to see us to see our music and people are still getting and buying our music. By the old-fashioned rules of thumb, a bunch of people complain that it's only viral success. The old-fashioned rules of thumb aren't necessarily holding up anymore, so why measure success by that?"
What does that mean for the future of OK Go?
"You never know," Nordwind said. "We may just have a space ballet."