It took modern rockers OK Go a minute to get going on its third album, “Of the Blue Colour of the Sky,” which came out in January.
Frontman Damian Kulash says that after 31 months touring to promote its predecessor, “Oh No,” the quartet had to regain its footing in the converted Amish barn in upstate New York where it was working with producer Dave Fridmann of the Flaming Lips.
“When we started writing again,” says Kulash, 34, “the bag of tricks we were used to relying on just didn’t feel right, and for six or eight months, we wrote stuff that we just basically hated. It was really depressing to try to do the thing you think you’re good at and just be bad at it.
“So we started writing much more by playing with very rudimentary kind of sonic elements — a drumbeat or a bass sound — and we just kind of chased the little bits that felt the most emotionally resonant. We had a really super-hard time, and I think you can hear it in the songs. It was very rewarding, but very taxing as well.”
“Blue Colour” debuted at No. 39 on the Billboard 200 — OK Go’s best showing yet — and, like “Oh No,” it’s spawned a series of clever videos that have driven the viral popularity for singles such as “WTF?” and “This Too Shall Pass,” the latter of which features a clip performed with the Notre Dame University marching band. The attention for the videos sometimes eclipses regard for OK Go’s music, but Kulash — who attended Interlochen Arts Academy as a youth — says the band is learning to deal with that.
“There’s this constant grumbling about us as ‘that video band,’ ” he notes, “and supposedly we’re supposed to feel embarrassed that our videos are so successful ‘cause it somehow undermines the quality of our music.
“That really seems counter-intuitive to me. I’d much rather have them be seen as a single project rather than separate elements. If the video is of equal power to the music, the band isn’t less of a creative force — it’s more, you know?”
OK Go, Earl Greyhound and the Booze perform on Thursday, April 22, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.
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