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Dogs steal the show in OK Go video

Justice jumps under the arms of Damian Kulash, left, and Dan Konopka during the making of the OK Go music video for White Knuckles.

Photo courtesy of OK Go

Justice jumps under the arms of Damian Kulash, left, and Dan Konopka during the making of the OK Go music video for White Knuckles.

LOS ANGELES — OK Go has gone and done it: turned the band's White Knuckles video into a dog fest of a YouTube sensation with a little help from a goat.

The video received a million hits in a day after it debuted on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and was posted online Sept. 20. Sure, the band's popular, but this time its owes a debt to Riot, Spike, Justice, Jury, Sequel, Zuni, Kash, Bunny, Peanut, Tin Tin, Kobie and Dazzle. And Ranger, a feisty goat who makes a cameo pulling at a leash in the 3 ½ minutes of bouncy music, frantic stacking of plastic buckets and canine tricks.

Fame came faster for White Knuckles than OK Go's Grammy-winning Here It Goes Again treadmill video, which has had more than 50 million online hits in five years, said Bobbie Gale, the band's publicist.

Playing stagehands to the dogs are the band's Damian Kulash, Tim Nordwind, Dan Konopka and Andy Ross. Dressed in white, they sing White Knuckles from their album Of the Blue Colour of the Sky as they twirl dogs in chairs and hoist them on planks, tables and into movable cubby holes by twos and threes.

The band didn't want a bunch of stupid pet tricks or one amazing dog, but a lot of dogs doing basic things together, said Kulash, the guitarist and lead singer.

"You take any two simple things and make them move in synch and suddenly they have personality. Something comes out of it. There is a gut emotional response to having things moving that way," he said.

OK Go should know.

The band's goofy treadmill routine is one of the most watched videos ever. OK Go has also collected nearly 20 million hits on a Rube Goldbergesque video featuring tumbling dominoes, nearly 5 million hits on its first one, a backyard dance, and more than 3.5 million hits on January's Notre Dame Marching Band swamp thing video. The animal video has been viewed by more than 7 million people so far.

124 takes

The blueprint was drawn up a year ago during two weeks spent around a table in a Los Angeles warehouse. The band and choreographer Trish Sie, Kulash's sister, met with Lauren Henry and Roland Sonnenburg of Talented Animals, playing with dogs and brainstorming. They decided to shoot in Corvallis, Ore., because Talented Animals has an office there, dogs and trainers were available and they had donated warehouse space.

The dogs underwent two weeks of training. In the warehouse, humans used stuffed animals to rehearse. They built tables and furniture, painted 2-inch by 8-inch boards and practiced bucket building. The choreography included the trainers moving around the room to guide the dogs through each trick with hand or voice signals, clickers, toys and treats.

On the first 48 tries, mistakes by dogs or humans stopped the work short. They got all the way through take 49, but they wanted to improve it so forged ahead to shoot 124 takes over four days. Around the 50th try, the dogs were so used to their parts they sped up and trainers had to spend time correcting them. The group decided on take 72 for the video.

"Some takes felt more joyful and less focused and stressed but I liked the stress. It communicated how difficult it was to do this. You could see the tension in the guys' faces. The dogs look playful and carefree, they are having a good time. But the guys kind of look like overworked stagehands hauling stuff around to make the dogs look good," Sie said.

Giving back

The video reminds people to support animal rescue, and the band will donate net proceeds from website sales to the ASPCA's Rural Rescue Dog Fund. The video can be bought for $2 and up at okgo.net.

Now that the video is a success, the dogs and trainers are all home and the band is on tour and getting ready to release another video (involving food and animation).

Dogs steal the show in OK Go video 11/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 6:25pm]

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