Alt-rockers OK Go won a well-deserved Grammy last Sunday for their homemade “Here It Goes Again” treadmill dance, which lead singer Damian Kulash described the following day as “being shot out of a joy cannon at high speeds.” Well, that’s sort of what it was like when PopWatch swung by a Los Angeles studio recently for the two-day shoot of the quartet’s new video, “Do What You Want.” The concept? Remember that scene in Garden State when Zach Braff goes to the bathroom and the wall paper is the exact same pattern as his shirt? It’s like that — minus the quaaludes or whatever downer he was on.
On second thought, the “Want” set was definitely a high-speed joy cannon, considering that they bought a bajillion yards of paisley-patterned fabric, similar to the design found on their Oh No album cover, and they used it to wrap just about everything in sight: themselves, the background set, a lamp, a chair, a hula-hooper, her hoop, Segway riders, their Segways, a pogo-hopper, his pogo-stick, a BMX-er, his bike, a trapeze artist, his tightrope contraption, a marching band, their instruments, a skateboarder, a contortionist, double-dutchers, crumpers, ninjas, breakdancers, ballroom dancers, cheerleaders and even a journalist (ahem) pretending to be one of the cheerleaders. This was the anti-thesis of a hip-hop video: with everyone camouflaged from head to toe, there was no silky-smooth skin to be seen. And when it seemed like things couldn’t get more interesting, in walked the guy on stilts and the woman on her giant fiberglass ball. But it wasn’t until I got into one of the moon suits that I realized that a) these people were doing amazing stunts in an outfit that wasn’t kind to peripheral vision, and b) my level of claustrophobia is a lot higher than I had ever calculated.
I guess you might be wondering what it was like to hang out on the set with OK Go, who consist of Damian, Tim Norwind, Andy Ross and Dan Konopka. If you follow indie-rock, you know that along with the token bed-head and scruffy face (which I like, for the record), there’s often an air of pretentiousness that comes with the territory. I’m talking about the kind of guys who look over your shoulder to see if someone more important has walked into the room. But these aren’t those guys. Instead, this is what I learned about them:
- Damian: This music video was his baby, and he was an active voice throughout the shoot. “The reason you wind up in a rock band [or] doany of this is because you want to have the opportunity to make cools—,” he says. “Most people have dreams and aspirations that willnever get realized. And when you get that rare chance to actually makesomething, you just can’t sit by and see how the cookie crumbles. Youactually have to go grab it.” Oh, and Damian’s had an Op-Ed piecepublished in the New York Times. Um, whatever.
- Drummer Dan: He’s genuine. During the shoot, he turned to Damian’smom and said “We’re so lucky to be in this job.” Also, he’s terrifiedof small knives (don‘t ask), paper cuts and breaking his arm. There wasa brief scare on day one when he got on the industrial pogo-stick, hada few high hops and then took a spill. Luckily, he only bruised hiselbow and a few ribs. Nothing a little vino couldn’t fix.
- Guitarist Andy: When Andy wasn’t on the set in his paisley onesie, he wasglued to his laptop. He’s into current events, and is helping program awebsite that will track what bills go through Congress.
- Bassist Tim: He met Damian at summer camp as a teen. He majored intheatre at DePaul University in Chicago. And he seems a littleintroverted — except when it comes to dancing.
In the end, there was enough footage for two feature films: 267minutes. Here’s the 3 minutes, 3 seconds that made the cut.