OK Go’s Tim Nordwind Talks Hunger Ghosts and How The Band Created a Multi-Media Empire

| April 21, 2015


by Tim Wenger

You’ve heard of OK Go. Their music videos are a spectacle in and of themselves, and have come to serve as the perfect representation of a band making a name for themselves purely on their own  slightly neurotic, but always hilarious, terms. They perform outstandingly athletic treadmill acrobatics in their music video for the song “Here It Goes Again.” For the “Needing/Getting” video, they star as the world’ most fashionable racecar drivers. The group has gained internet notoriety for creative and hilarious videos, and oh yeah, they write some pretty unique alt/indie to match.

The group has propelled itself to the national level much of their own doing, with a self-run and self-branded “media empire” that has not only dominated YouTube but also sent the band’s music (and the four eccentric dudes that make it) around the country in a non-stop shuffle of tour dates to bring the crazed, ever-evolving show to the masses.

A new album is out now, and is the band’s most progressive offering yet. “Hungry Ghosts” is definitely the most electronic of the albums that we’ve made to date,” says bassist/vocalist Tim Nordwind. “And probably the most direct both in sound and in message and because of that it ends up being the poppiest.”

Many of the demos for this record were made while OK Go were touring and did not have access to their full instrumentation, so the base of the songs became largely electronic. “When we got to the studio, it was all this electronic programming,” says Nordwind. The studio, though, allowed the guys to put their usual stamp on the music and make it something their fans will recognize but many of the programming dubs stayed in the songs in place of typical instrumentation. “But I think because we had to that out of necessity, we all got better at it. (On the road) we would temp in sounds for guitars that were actually programming, and when we heard them we were like ‘I know a real guitar is supposed to go there but what is there sounds very unique and is doing the job so let’s go with that.’”

The result is a style that sounds much more like eighties pop with OK Go’s modern style mixed in. In order to sort of test the new songs, the band is released an EP prior the dropping the full album. “We felt like this record was a little bit different that the ones we had done before so we wanted to whet people’s appetites first,” Nordwind says. “Also we hadn’t put out a record in like four years, so we kind of wanted to just slowly dish out the information and get people used to a newer sound.”

As an independent act, Ok Go no longer has the support of a record label like they had in the past. Instead, they (and the band’s management) handle all of the decisions and manage the workload in house. This gives them total control, and also gives them the freedom to express and promote their art in any medium they choose. “What’s nice about having our own label is that it basically acts as the distribution for all of our creative ideas,” says Nordwind. “A big reason why we went out on our own initially is that we are a band, we make records, we make videos, but we also do a ton of art projects, some of us write, some of us produce. I have a whole other band. There is a lot of stuff that we all do under the umbrella of OK Go and so it’s nice to be able to just have the freedom to follow the ideas that excite us.” As an independent brand, they are able to incorporate different angles of promotion and work with, network with, and collaborate with whomever they choose.

Traditional label systems were tough for the group because the primary focus of a label is pushing records, not creativity. “As our business was starting to grow into all these different facets, it was a little bit of an issue because getting our music out there is not our only concern,” Nordwind says. “We were developing a new business model that didn’t really fit in the major label system.”

It seems to be working for the group, who have accumulated over 100 million YouTube views on their official videos and are currently out on the road headlining theatres across the country. Check out the new album at okgo.net and catch the band this Friday at the Ogden Theatre.

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