Interview: Damian Kulash on OK Go’s Self-Titled Debut

Interview: Damian Kulash on OK Go’s Self-Titled Debut

 

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If you think your life is crazy, try living in Damian Kulash’s shoes. Amid a whirlwind tour supporting OK Go’s self-titled debut disc and after a wild day of running from one interview to the next, the tall and lanky frontman of the Chicago-based pop-rock band found a minute to talk with Slant immediately before his next sound check. Despite suffering with an annoying cold (“I’ve had it all week, my voice is fucked, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”), Damian was in good spirits, highly energized and considerately thoughtful during our abbreviated discussion.

How crazy is it these days?

It’s real crazy. We were just here in New York City less than a week ago, then we were in Toronto and now we’re back again. It’s been hectic—today, especially. I’ve been feeling like shit and our schedule’s kind of jammed up—been running fast all day. But we’d rather be crazed than bored, so this is fine.

OK Go has been around since 1998. Does it bother you that you’re not widely known yet?

No, not at all. Of course we want people to listen to our music, buy our records, come to our shows—the whole shebang. And Capitol Records is fully behind us, spending money and promoting the band, so we know it’s gonna happen. But we also want to continue to do this for a long time and, in our opinion, it’s good to discover our fans and have them gradually discover us, as opposed to having our music constantly shoved down their throats and risk over-exposure. The slower things happen, the better.

The band has been known to do live covers, be it Tommy James’s “Crimson and Clover” or Toto’s “Hold the Line.” Do they always work?

We’re pretty selective about the covers we do but we have screwed them up from time to time. We’ve done some that have made me wince and left me feeling like a total ass afterwards. I’ve always wanted to perform Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion”—I love the bass line in that song. But we can’t seem to make anything good out of it. It’s important to know your limitations and we know we can’t pull it off. But usually the covers go off pretty well.

Your live show is loose and wild you’re usually careening all over the place. Have you ever fallen off the stage?

No, not exactly. I have fallen into the drum set before. The stage was just too small to contain me and I wasn’t having it, so I kept going and ended up crashing into the drums. That was great [Laughs]. I love spontaneous stuff like that.

Do you ever worry about getting to the point where it stops being fun?

Well, of course I know it’s not always going to be as fresh or as new as it is now. But, honestly, I can’t ever imagine it not being fun. I hope I’m right about that because we’ve been together a long while and we’re having a great time with this. It’s exactly what we want to be doing.