“We’re not the world’s quickest writers and we never have been” – hmv.com talks to OK Go
Most people know them for their wacky videos and their fondness for treadmills, but Chicago pop-rock OK Go have been quietly releasing quirky, offbeat indie cuts for the last 15 years, building up a bank of loyal fans in the process.
As they prepare to release new album Hungry Ghosts, we spoke to frontman Damian Kulash about going more electronic, their slow work-rate and their plans for their own TV game show…
Would it be fair to describe this as the most electronic OK Go album to date?
“It’s definitely the most in that direction we’ve ever been. It sounds obvious, but sitting down and saying ‘I want to write a rave up anthem’ or ‘I want to write a big ballad’, somehow when you sit down to write one thing it always turn into something else. But certainly electronics play a much bigger part in this record.”
It’s been five years since your last album, does writing take longer now? Or is pretty similar to how it’s always been?
“It’s pretty similar, we’re not the world’s quickest writers and we never have been. We also go on tour forever and we make these elaborate videos and we all have lots of other projects outside the band. I produce other bands, Tim’s got his side projects, Andy run this software company and Dan is a DJ, so we all have these other things we do, everything just takes a long time to do.”
Would you like to be more prolific?
“I’d love to keep some momentum going and try and make it that we got a record out every two years rather than every four. But then I do think I wouldn’t enjoy life as much. One of the great things about this band is spending time on everything, so if that was taken away I’m not sure I’d enjoy things as much.”
Where does the album’s title come from?
“The reason we named it Hungry Ghosts is it comes from a Buddhist term. Hungry Ghosts are beings that live inside us and have an insatiable craving for both peace and desire. It’s trying to sum up that notion that something is right at your fingertips, but you can’t quite get it.”
You worked with both Dave Fridmann and Tony Hoffer on the album, how did that work?
“It’s almost all Dave Fridmann. We did one song with Tony. We recorded with Dave for months and months and we ended up with almost two records worth of stuff, but it just felt like there was that little bit more to do. Not because of anything Dave did, but I think we needed one more influence so we went back in and did one more song with Tony. But the thing as a whole, it’s a Dave Fridmann record.”
What is Dave Fridmann like to work with?
“I love him, he’s like family to us. He’s such a brilliant musical thinker and sonic thinker. He understands the technology and the emotional underpinnings of music so well, normally you get someone is either a great producer or great engineer, but Dave is both. He challenges us and collaborates with us.”
After you finish this European run, how much touring do you have pencilled in?
“We’re off to Japan, then we head to China to do this television commercial, that then goes straight in to a long tour of the States and then we’re going to do some festivals, but we’re also working on a television show. Then, in the fall, we’re working on putting on our own festival, that’s a kind of nerdy, techy, arty thing and that’ll be in about four cities.”
Tell us about the TV show, what’s that going to be?
“It’s a word game that we all play when we’re bored on tour. It’s called Say The Same Thing, we’re working with partners right now and they all seem quite confident that it’ll end up on TV. We’re quite excited about it.”
OK GO’s new album Hungry Ghosts is released on Monday (February 16th). You can order the album in store now.