OK Go are probably the most watched indie pop band on the internet. We’ve no way of checking this, but at 178 million views and counting, their slew of viral videos have made them a face, if not always a name, of the internet. They did that video dancing on the treadmills. They are OK Go, and we have the pleasure of chatting via Skype to their lead singer Damian in anticipation of their actually brilliant new album Hungry Ghosts.
When someone says an album is a grower, it’s a bit of a backhanded compliment. But Hungry Ghosts has its more immediate joys, especially the early tracks like Upside Down and Inside Out, Another Set of Issues and Obsession – all amazing collisions of electro and rock, with a kind of Sleigh Bells sound to them. And their latest single I Won’t Let You Down, a more disco-inspired affair, obviously comes with an ingenious hi-tech video.
“Basically our whole thing is playing,” Damian explains, “and when someone says, ‘You guys are so hi-tech,’ yeah, but we’re also lo-fi, everything we do is weird and homemade. It feels like it’s made with duct tape most of the time.”
What we love about their videos, having sat through them all, is that they just don’t look like they’d be all that good at dancing. And yet – they are.
“We’ve been playing onstage together for 16 years. If we couldn’t do things in sync with each other, man, we’d be fucked!”
Although the entire band is straight, they do have a hefty set of gay credentials. Apart from the creative flamboyance, one of Damian’s early favourite records was Catching Up with Depeche Mode, claiming one of the 80s more homoerotic album covers. And a few days after the interview, he messages us to casually say: “I forgot to mention – stupidly – that I used to work in a gay bar in London! I was a server at Freedom in 1997.” But to be honest, that’s not where our attention is going. It’s not escaped our notice that Tim and Dan are sporting some mighty fine beards at the moment, which always makes us think about their bear awareness. Turns out they’re at Bear Force One levels of knowledge.
“Everybody is aware that bear culture exists. Tim has a really interesting relationship to all this, because even before the beard, Tim was wearing a little black leather page boy cap. And he couldn’t be dressing more gay.
“I remember we’d stop in the South and he’d be a little worried about going into some scary truck stop restroom, he was like, ‘Dude, I’m gonna get beat up in there,’ and I was like, ‘Why do you think you’re gonna get beat up in there?’ And he said ,‘Cos I’m Jewish!’”
OK Go’s album Hungry Ghosts is out 16 February, they play Koko, London on 13 February, okgo.net, @okgo