OK Go’s hit single, “Get Over It,” is tearing up both alternative and mainstream radio nationwide. The band’s founding members, now in their late twenties, met at music camp when they were twelve and stayed in touch by exchanging mix-tapes through high school, reconvening after college to pursue rock-stardom. The Voice tackled bassist, vocalist and songwriter Tim Nordwind, dragged him out back and forced him to answer our questions last week at the 9:30 Club before his band opened for The Donnas. This is his compelling story:
Voice: Did your ex-girlfriends start calling you when “Get Over It” blew up?
Nordwind: (laughs) Um, no, ‘cause she’s not into that kind of music. Although she’s very supportive. I hear from her from time to time. I don’t think she really likes our band. She’s into jazz. But my girlfriend likes us a lot.
Voice: Do you consider yourselves an alternative band?
Nordwind: No. Not necessarily. I don’t know. I just think of us as straight-up rock. When I think of alternative I think of the bands from the ‘90s, more grunge and stuff like that. To me we sound more like a pop-rock band than an alternative band. But even more than that we sound like a rock band.
Voice: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Nordwind: The very first thing is to make sure your songs are good. Always try to put your best foot forward, especially when it comes to giving out your demo and stuff like that. I think normally what happens when people receive demos is that they’ll listen to the first 10 or 15 seconds and if they’re not into it they automatically go on to the second song, and if they’re not hearing it by the third song they take it out, that’s just the way things work. When giving out a demo, keep it to three songs maximum and put the best song first, not third. I think things like that are important and are overlooked a lot. When we first started playing live I think a thing that really helped us is that we made these posters that stood out from the usual photocopied black and white posters. They got us a lot of attention and if nothing else, if they didn’t bring people to shows, they were still a way to get our name into people’s heads … When promoting a show try to do something a little different. And don’t suck.
Voice: Did the two star review in Rolling Stone hurt?
Nordwind: I don’t know … They’ve since gone on to give us really good press. You just kind of have to grow a couple of layers of extra skin and move on. This sounds really obvious, but people are either going to love it or they’re going to hate it, and if they hate it, there’s really nothing we can do about it … At some point, I think bands have to take all press with a grain of salt. Someone else at some point will write an awful review of us, I’m sure of it and you just kind of have to give in to that.
Voice: Why Capitol Records?
Nordwind: Basically, when we were signed to Capitol Records they’d just hired a new president, Andy Slater, and we were the first band that he was looking at. At the time, and still even now, their roster was, and is, pretty small compared to most major labels. We basically went with them because it seemed like they were going to pay us the most attention, ‘cuz we had offers from bigger labels that probably had just as much money to put behind the project … We really like Andy Slater. He’s one of the few people we’ve met that really seems to care about the music a lot.
Voice: What do you think of Internet file sharing?
Nordwind: Early on that sort of thing really helped our band a lot. When we weren’t signed it was a great way to get our music out there and have kids in, you know, Washington, D.C. hear our music. And I still think, for the most part, that it’s alright. When I download a song I usually end up buying the record anyway, but I do like being able to hear a song or two and do research on a band before I go in and buy it.
Voice: What’s wrong with rock ‘n roll?
Nordwind: The biggest problem, to me, is there’s not enough diversity on the radio. I feel like when I was growing up the definition was much broader.
Voice: What rock shows would you pay to go see right now?
Nordwind: The White Stripes, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, The Streets and Norah Jones.
Voice: Do you guys wanna make out with The Donnas?
Nordwind: Well, I have a girlfriend, so … They’re very attractive girls, but I think I’d rather be friends with The Donnas.