Silent Uproar: When going in to record the new album was their a specific vibe you were going for?
Tim: Yeah, for our first record we wanted to have a very hi-fi over produced synthetic and poppy sound and it was really more of a studio project. This time around we wanted to do something that was a little more stripped down and had a live feel.
You know they say you have your whole life to write your first record and then like 3 weeks to write your second, and in our case that was sorta true. The first record was like the best of everything we had written from ages 17 to 25 and it comes off as a best of OK Go record even though it was our first record. So it goes all over the place, which at the time we thought was cool. This time we wanted to do something that sounds more focused and was recorded in one room and so we just picked a couple of drum sounds and a couple of bass sounds and tried to work within the confines of a couple of different sounds for each instrument. We didn’t want to try and go all over the place and make lots of sonic fantasies. (laughs)
SU: I think you nailed it because my next two questions where going to be what prompted the move to a slightly grittier sound for the album and how much of the album was recorded live with the full band?
Tim: Pretty much the whole record was done in one room live. I think what prompted the move is we wanted something to match what we do live in concert. I definitely think there is an energy and a vibe to what we do live that we didn’t necessarily nail on the first record. So we tried to make it sound like what we sound like when you see us in concert
SU: Do you think that is the vibe you will go for again with future albums?
Tim: You know, it’s hard to say. I imagine when we get into the next record it will be something kind of similar, but you just never know. Almost 3 years went by between the making of the first record and the making of the second record and you change. Your musical tastes change and the production values you like 3 years ago are not necessarily what you like now. We wanted to make a record that sounded like the records we listen to now or the records we listened to when we were younger and most of those records just had a rawer feel to them.
SU: Was there anything specific you said you wanted to make sure you didn’t do with the new album?
Tim: We didn’t want to do a whole lot of double tracking; we didn’t want to have one guitar tracked 15 times. We kinda wanted to pick one really good sound for each instrument and have that be it, as opposed to building up these sonic soundscapes out of 20 million instruments. We just wanted to avoid over-production.
SU: How was working with producer Tore Johansson in Sweden (produced first Franz album)?
Tim: It was fantastic. He is kind of like a mad genius. I think he sort of tried to scare us at first. The very first talk we ever had with him, he told us in a really thick Swedish accent, “We will go into studio and if you do a take I will not come in here like some American producer all excited. If I say it is good then it is perfect and if I don’t’ say anything, you will do it again.” (laughing) He was just very dry and kinda like he didn’t want to fuck around at all. So we were kind of scared of him at first, but he lightened up as we went along. He definitely has a great dry sense of humor, but I think he wanted to scare us into shape at first.
He did a good job of keeping the big picture in mind and sort of bringing us back in when we wanted to try something that was maybe going to sound overproduced. He was good at saying less is more and let’s just stick to the basics here. So he was great for keeping his eye on the big picture, which I think is hard to do when you are two months into a recording project. I think it is easy to lose perspective.
He also has a great ear for sounds…he wouldn’t let our drummer tune his drums, which was weird for us. We have always worked with producers that would make us tune the drums so they sound all nice and he insisted that Dan not tune his drums at all. When Dan would try to tune his drums, Tore would tell him that Sting had left the building and not to touch his drums. So yeah, he just has a good ear or taking a crappy amplifier and making it sound awesome.
SU: Is he someone that you guys approached because you wanted to work with him, or was it something the label hooked up?
Tim: He was someone that we really liked a lot and we kind of went after him and sent him the demos we had been working on. He liked the demos and invited us to come to Sweden to work with him. We really liked what he had done with the Franz Ferdinand record and we are already fans of his because we were pretty big fans of the first Cardigans records which he produced.
SU: It seems like there's sort only three categories that the American mainstream is embracing now: either you're a dance-rock band, a screamo/pop-punk band or you're in hip-hop. Where does Ok Go and this album fit in the current state of music?
Tim: That’s a good question. I don’t think we fit neatly into any of those categories, for better or for worse. That makes it difficult for getting on to anything really; MTV or radio or anything like that. I mean we certainly aren’t screamo, I don’t really consider ourselves pop-punk, we have dancey songs, but we are not the rapture. So it is hard to say. I don’t think I can even say we fall in between any of those things.
SU: Do you really pay attention to that anyway?
Tim: No, I think it is creative suicide to pay attention so much that you let what is on the radio or what is popular dictate what you are going to write. I think you are just headed for disaster that way. Personally I don’t care for much of what is on the radio these days so I have no interest in trying to write like anyone that is on the radio right now. I don’t see the point in that anyway.
You still hope though that you are writing a fun catchy song that people will still like even though it doesn’t fall into any of the mature genres that are out there right now.
SU: Let’s talk about the "Million Ways" video because it is amazing. Who choreographed the dance routine for the video?
Tim: It was a collaborative effort between the band and our singer Damian’s sister, whose name is Trish Sie. She is an ex-professional ballroom dancer and she has since retired and now has a children’s group called the Snark-a-Snoops. So she came out with her two year old son and we just kind of got together and choreographed this dance mostly for fun. It is hilarious to me that the dance has gone as far as it has. It was meant to be something we could just watch to see how we were doing, so it is really funny that it is being played on Fuse and it was #1 on MySpace last week and…
SU: How the hell did you convince your label to let you out that video as the official video?
Tim: It’s weird because it was sort of out of everyone’s hands. It was just this thing that a couple people got a hold of it and put it online and it just sort of blew up online. All of a sudden Entertainment Weekly was calling it the number 3 thing to check out one week, so it sorta dictated itself. It was just like, well here is what’s out there, let’s follow it I guess.
SU: Since it is just one shot, how many takes did you have to film before you ended up with the final product?
Tim: I think that day we had done like 3 or 4 takes and we just kind of went through them and picked the one we liked, I guess (laughs) just to show some friends and stuff. And that was that. I mean if you watch it, there are mistakes in it and everything so it is by no means a prefect performance. The last shot where my head is cut off, I remember talking to the guys and saying well if we are going to show this to friends, maybe we should do one where it doesn’t cut my head off at the end. It was the end of the day and we were tired, and we were like ah fuck it, they will get the idea.
What’s really funny is we have been doing these dances together since we were like 12. it is funny what reaches to people and gets people excited. These things we have been doing since we were kids are so much more effective than any big budget video we could do. It feels good to me and I am glad people are responding to it because that is kinda just what we do!
SU: If a band came out named OK STOP! Would you feel like they ripped you off, or that they were pretty clever.
Tim: I wouldn’t feel like they ripped us off, but I wouldn’t necessarily think they are clever either though. (laughs) I started to say it is a dumb name, but it’s not that far off from our name so maybe I shouldn’t say it is a dumb name. Yeah, so I wouldn’t have much problem with it.
SU: What do you do when writing new songs to make sure you aren’t just repeating old ideas?
Tim: I think it is important for bands to always be reinventing themselves a little bit for every record. I don’t think it is all that much fun to repeat what you did before. I realize that is the model for some bands successes. Like AC/DC, who I fucking love, made very similar records for their entire career, but they are great records.
For us, we still find a band or two every year that we have never heard before that really gets us excited and makes us think about music in a different way. I think rock and roll is so referential anyway that as long as you are always looking for different references to explore and try to emulate and write like, then I think that is a pretty good way of never doing the same thing twice.
SU: It would see that with all the ways you are using the internet to be more in touch with your fans (podcasts, blogs, and homemade videos, etc) that you really embrace it as a way to spread the word about the band. What do you think the internet offers that other more traditional marketing or advertising mediums don’t?
Tim: I think there is immediacy to the internet that you don’t get with the old fashion marketing tools. I think there is a sort of DIY kind of ethic to a lot of what happens on the internet right now. Like podcasts feel very personal to me and you can do them quickly, and put them on quickly, and get a reaction quickly. If you stay on the project, you can also do a lot of them in a short amount the time. I think that immediacy and the sort of intimacy you get from the internet that you don’t get from looking at a poster on the street or watching an ad on TV. You can be a little more personal on the internet, which I think people like. I like it.