Music Q&A: Tim Nordwind of OK Go
This week, Paul Wood chats with Tim Nordwind (bass guitar and vocals) of OK Go. You know, the band with the supercool videos. The band performs Sept. 13 at the Canopy Club, 708 S. Goodwin Ave., U. “Hungry Ghosts,” coming out in October, is the first studio album in several years. Members are Nordwind; Damian Kulash, lead vocals and guitar; Dan Konopka, drums and percussion; and Andy Ross, guitar, keyboards and vocals.
Tell me the superhero origins of OK Go. Were radioactive spiders involved?
I met Damian at Interlochen Arts Camp when we were 11.
Neither one of us played music very well. Eventually I learned how to play bass; we both knew a little about musical theory. Damian played violin. We loved making up songs even though we didn't how to write a song. And we loved making videos; the spirit of that has carried on through OK Go.
Coming up, you played at Empty Bottle, the Metro and the Double Door. Is there a Chicago influence in your work?
We lived in Chicago for eight years. There are so many great venues in Chicago. But we're at home in LA.
You have the best videos, especially the treadmills in "Here It Goes Again." Did any of you study dance?
No, none of us are particularly good dancers, but we are hard workers. I did a lot of theater.
Who's the creative element on the choreography?
We have ideas, but also work with Trish Cie, Damian's sister. (She directed the movie "Step Up: All In.")
What's your connection with They Might Be Giants?
In the early days, we toured with them. We shared the same management. I've always been really impressed with how they've run their career. They do what they want; they make children's records if they want to. They don't have MTV success but still have an enviable career.
What's your favorite OK go song?
That's hard to pick; they're like our babies. "Skyscrapers" is beautiful, on the third record. "Writing On The Wall" is the new single, I'm very fond of it.
Do you see yourself staying with your own label? Or continuing to put out shows in thumb drives?
I love having the sense we can chase whatever favorite ideas we can think of; we don't have to fight with anybody. We did thumb drives of every show for one album.
You did a video with State Farm. Here, the music venue is now called the State Farm Center. I'm thinking of changing my name to State Farm Center Wood, for the signing rights. What is the magic of the insurance company?
State Farm was super-cool with us. They didn't want any creative control. "This Too Shall Pass," (also known as The Rube Goldberg Machine) was made possible by State Farm. It worked out really well.
Which bands did you like when you were a teenager?
The Pixies, the Cure, the Smiths, New Order, Fugazi, the Clash, Nirvana, Mud Honey.
Who has influenced you the most?
I don't think anybody else would say this, Fugazi, not that we sound like Fugazi. But it's do-it-yourself punk rock ethic. We've managed to try to carry on with it.