By Cody Kenner
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a band is usually their music. In the case of Ok Go, however, most would define them by their music videos. Not that their music is bad, per se, just that its consistent poppy vibrancy is overshadowed by their often brain-imploding video work. For over a decade, Ok Go has released innovative, stylish, mind-blowing music videos of their own design. Conceptually, they’re usually the babies of band leader Damien Kulash, but the generative process is almost always the result of a collaborative brainstorming by the band. Videos are often even directed by people outside of the band, such as Kulash’s sister, Trish Sie. These videos are typically low-budget, one-take affairs and range from their first sensational YouTube hit featuring the band members dancing on treadmills to a giant Rube Goldberg machine to a warehouse full of optical illusions to a car playing musical instruments to an astounding drone shot of human pixels. Whatever the project may be, according to Damien Kulash, there’s only one standard: “The bar we’ve set is basically to keep ourselves thrilled and excited about chasing something. . .there is a kind of arms race within ourselves; once we’ve done something, it’s less exciting to do it again, so looking for what the next challenge will be gets harder and harder and the challenges themselves get harder and harder.”
In their latest video for “Upside Down & Inside Out,” directed by Trish Sie, Ok Go challenges themselves once more by taking their creative talent to the highest it’s ever been—literally. With a concept that the band members had all been set on for nearly their entire career, “Upside Down & Inside Out” was shot in zero gravity on a parabolic flight (colloquially known as a vomit comet). The video features the band cartwheeling and swimming through the air as balls, suitcases, piñatas, and paint-filled balloons bounce around the cabin. As the lyrics of the song—being equally as vibrant and uplifting as the vomit comet ride—reflect, “Gravity’s just a habit that you’re pretty sure you can’t break.” Once again, Ok Go has managed to craft a video experience that is in perfect reflection of their music—a wild, fun ride well worth watching. And watch the masses do—the video, exclusive to Facebook, currently has 46 million views, 471,136 likes and 588,151 shares.
Filming the video, however, was likely less of a fun ride. For starters, the band members of Ok Go had only twenty-seven-second intervals to make their no-gravity antics work. Consequently, the band had to stay motionless in their seats between each zero gravity period for the entirety of eight forty-five-minute flights. Eight flights meant only eight takes to film the video. After each take, they cleaned the plane, which by the end of each flight was covered in balloon paint. Take that stress and add the vital but limited practice runs, work in frigid Russia, and the experience of riding in a plane throttling upwards and downwards (bassist Tim Nordwind was apparently shaking during the parts in which they had to stay still, and is quoted as having said “I have mixed emotions right now—fear of the unknown and more fear of the unknown”), and you’ve got a recipe for an amazing music video.
Ok Go has once more set the bar for their creativity even higher, and flawlessly jumped the hurdle. Who knows how they’ll manage to top this video—performing in an active volcano, perhaps? Just throwing that out there, Ok Go.