Upsetting 'asshole' Republicans in suits

Danielle Goldstein

Perching inertly on a stretch of plush leather sofas, Damien Kulash flutters his fetching long eyelashes toward the floor. Despite his ostentatious stage antics with earnest-looking Ok Go band he is a much more reserved character on his own.

Like a bashful child trying to strike up a conversation he blurts out that Jack White recently complimented him on a tie his Mum had bought.  "That's quite impressive for a Mum to hear," grins the new American pop star pin-up.

Dressed to the nines 24/7 it would appear that Ok Go are an image-conscious band, but underneath it all comes down to boredom.  "I reached this point when looking in my closet and choosing between various ratty t shirts and beat-up jeans just got annoying. Now everyone wears jeans and t shirts, and suits were like that once upon a time."

But the tipping point came during the 2004 US Presidential election when they played some anti-administration shows.  "We just decided to dress up as asshole Republicans and all wear suits on stage. I thought it would be really inhibiting but it actually gave a theatrical majesty to the show so I thought  'I'm just going to buy a whole bunch of suits and then I'll never have to dress in anything else again'. Well, if I'm gardening at home or something I don't wear a suit."

He chuckles briefly before falling into an impassive silence that makes arbitrary appearances throughout the interview. It's hard to believe that this shy individual made his first dance-debut on a homemade TV show presented by a sock puppet.  "We were asked to go on but they couldn't record us playing so we thought  'well if we're going to lip sync we might as well swing for the fences', and so we came out with this pretty ludicrous routine. That was years before we did it on stage and it was really fun."

Of course the harebrained ideas don't just end with quirky dance routines. Spectacle-wielding bassist, Tim Nordwind used to request gifts for each gig.  "He would try to come up with things that wouldn't cost money so we weren't specifically taking things from kids.

"At one point he requested candy sculptures and someone made us a ping pong table made of candy, which was crazy. And someone gave me a miniature chicken throwing machine."

It's time for another of those fortuitous silences and so we move on to the overwhelming amount of tour dates and the mood shifts some what.  "We've been touring for two years straight really and it feels more like a travelling circus." But does Kulash ever think about throwing in the towel?  "Yes, although I haven't.

 "I want to make another record. I love the shows themselves - it's the other 23 hours a day that get repetitive and uncreative. The shit that you don't want to spend the rest of your life doing - like trying to find a fuse in a puritanical town on a Sunday. And when you go home and your dishes are still in the same place you left them you're like  'fuck, what did I just do with the last two years of my life?'"

That's not to say he doesn't enjoy touring all over the world though.  "I think the best shows are often really unexpected places like Omaha. On the right day the kids are just insane, it's so fun."

And perhaps a little stop off in Sweden to record the new album?  "That's the idea. It was a really great experience for us and I think we'll probably write it this summer, because we're basically on tour until then."

As the conversation moves onto his fascination with  '60s and  '70s soul music at the moment we can only assume that it's bound to have a major influence on the new record.  "If I try to write things that are influenced by the soul music I listen to they sound like parodies. It takes a while for ideas to settle in and actually filter out in an organic and meaningful way."

We ponder the contrast between their youthful and exciting debut, and their solid sounding second album  'Oh No', and it makes it difficult to peg Ok Go's sound. But Damien Kulash will tell you that they are quite simply:  "Arty party, that's what makes Ok Go." And with a cheeky, childish smile he gracefully bids us adieu.