Rock band OK Go on viral success, chart-topping hits, and playing at the Belly Up in Solana Beach


By Rob LeDonne

When rock band OK Go rolls into San Diego to play a July 24 gig at Solana Beach’s Belly Up Tavern, it will mark the latest in a string of memorable shows in the region.

“We’ve played in the area a handful of times,” said bassist and vocalist Tim Norwind from his home in Los Angeles.

“Once, the night we released our second-ever record, we made our debut on ‘The Tonight Show,’ then drove down from Burbank to play at (downtown venue) the Casbah. Maybe 50 people show up,” remembers Norwind with a laugh.

The band’s star has risen exponentially since those early days, largely due to a string of indie rock hits, including “Here It Goes Again,” “All Is Not Lost,” and “This Too Shall Pass.”

Aside from their music, the band has become known for creative and intricate music videos, many of which become viral sensations.

“A lot of bands don’t or wouldn’t enjoy making them, but we like the experience,” Norwind said. “We love to make videos that excite people and inspire wonderment, joy, and fun. That’s the kind of stuff people enjoy watching and playing for their friends.”

The band, which started in Chicago, first gained national prominence when the video for its 2005 single

“Here It Goes Again”

(which featured the members jumping around on treadmills) took off during the early days of viral Internet videos (it boasts nearly 22 million views on YouTube), and later won a Grammy award.

“We’re lucky enough to come up in a time that the Internet has become a showcase space, like an art gallery, where you can make and share things,” Norwind said. “The fact that people like our videos is certainly encouraging.”

The word “like” is probably an understatement. The band’s latest video, for the single

“The Writing’s On The Wall,”

was posted to YouTube on June 17 and in the past month alone has garnered 9 million views and attention around the globe.

“The song is about a couple breaking up and seeing their relationship two different ways,” said Norwind of the video, which consists of a variety of elaborate optical illusions. “The song and video focuses on perspective and seeing things in a lot of different ways.”

The band members originally had the idea to produce a video with optical illusions and forced perspective four years ago. They reached out to a New York-based production company. From there, it took months to hatch a feasible plan, construct a set, and make their unique vision come to life.

“One day, (lead singer) Damien Kulash had seen an advertisement on BBC 4 which featured camera tricks where, at certain angles, the same thing looks different,” remembers Norwood of the video’s genesis. “We thought we could do it on a bigger scale, and make a cool video.”

The video, single, and Belly Up gig are all in support of their album “Hungry Ghosts,” which comes out Oct. 14. Until then, Norwind and his bandmates are continuing to think of eye-popping new video ideas and are, of course, going to enjoy the Southern California weather.

“We started out in the Midwest, and while I’ll always love it there, the weather (in California) is a major selling point for me,” Norwind said. “Just being able to see hills, mountains, and the ocean — it’s something I didn’t grow up with.”

OK Go will perform at 9 p.m. July 24 at the Belly Up in Solana Beach (doors open at 8 p.m.). For information, visit


  1. The Belly Up is at 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach; call 858-481-8140.