Wednesday, October 19, 2005

UK Edition, Chapter 5: The Closer
The other day we stopped outside Brighton to buy some petrol (gas) and chips (fries), and to get some food in the grizzly bear (Dan). We parked next to a pair of 15-passenger vans carrying a group of high schoolers on a science field trip. They immediately smelled "band" and when they discovered that we were indeed OK Go, flipped the freak out, clawed at Damian, and did back flips around their massive vehicles. Some bands might take this as an opportunity to mingle with fans and spread the love of the music. OK Go? Hell to the no! We had only one internal directive: sell them merch.

Like so very many of us, I worked at Circuit City during my high school years. That's where I learned that the hardest part of sales is closing the deal, and that the second hardest part is making the approach. It's a tricky thing, walking up to someone who is clearly not interested in buying a thing, and talking to them about things you're clearly interested in having them buy. (Sidebar: One morning at Circuit City I was setting up a cordless phone display when a potential customer came in and started looking at portable CD players. In this situation, a good salesperson will walk up and say "Welcome to Circuit City! I noticed you were looking at portable CD players... what would you be using that for?," or something similarly dripping of hollow, empty interest. But I, being very tired and also sick of stacking cordless phones, simply went up to this woman and said, "Hello?" as if I'd just picked up the telephone but was afraid of who might be calling. When she responded with a slightly bewildered "Um, what did you say?," I realized my mistake, turned around and ran off to the break room where I cracked up for about 10 minutes. The morals of the story: 1) I suck at sales, and 2) Don't make me do anything before 11am.)

So, here we were with fifteen potential customers. The problem with high school students is that they don't have a lot of money but they do have a keen ability to sniff out insincerity. They're like bloodhounds on ecstacy when it comes to that stuff. The approach would have to be delicate yet firm. A wrong turn here would mean no sales and eternal branding as a bunch of opportunistic jerks. There was only one man for the job: Dan Konopka. Dan grabbed a box of UK limited-edition purple vinyl "A Million Ways" singles, strutted over to the kids, and in a masterstroke of sales and communication, belched, "HEY! YOU GUYS WANNA BUY SOME SHIT?!"

Amazingly, this worked. All of the kids went home with a signed record, save for the one that mooned us as they drove out of the parking lot. And that little bastard didn't deserve one anyway.



Anonymous Lindsay said...

you know who's poorer than high school students?
college students.

true story:

this one time i was in highschool and i went to the music store to buy me some music, and i couldn't get what i wanted cuz i didn't have enough cash, so i settled for something subpar.
fastforward three years and now i just don't go to the music store cuz i can't afford the gas. that and seeing all the lovely musics i can't buy makes me weep a little... and i don't like doing that in public too much...

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

funny how easy it is to picture this circuit city story...and dan 'belching' to the kids to buy vinyls. well done, andy, well done!

11:07 PM  
Blogger powerhouse said...

HAHAHAHAHA! that is absolutely hilarious because i imagine you guys at my local gas station, with rusty lurking near the van, peeking around the gas pumps at the high school kids with a very contemplative, yet somewhat sinister, look on his face, while dan just pushes past and proceeds to "belch" away. and to top it all off, you guys are of course wearing your dandy suits. you're stories are amazing rusty! i love them and i love you for sharing them with us!

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Shannon said...

basically you can boil any further sales pitches to those in the 15-25 age bracket down to this: swear some.

for shit's sake, swear some.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous MBA in CHI said...

It's 1:16 AM central time and I am 1/4 of the way through a paper that is due tomorrow for a miserable MIS class. Once I finish this paper tonight I must then take a quiz for this same lousy class. I need to do all of this now because in 6 short hours I will be on the train to work all day, and will be at work right up until my class starts. Why am I telling you this? Because rather than write the paper I am reading and laughing at this wonderful story. Thank you Andy, and thank you OK Go. Your story blew a bit of sunshine into the midst of this otherwise unbearable situation. Cheers intrepid bandmates!

2:21 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Hi. Just a quick note to say that I was at the Brighton show and you were fantastic. :) Can't wait to hear more stuff from you.

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Mel said...

haha omgsh i love it! that was totally hilarious.

i love you guys
Your friggin awesome.

<3 Mel

7:22 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I want to be a tour manager, and it's stories like that which increase my ambition ten-fold. :-) What fun!

(My thoughts on music)

9:18 AM  
Anonymous dana said...

I have a similar story, Rusty Andy. Except for I was in a Wal Mart checking out cordless phones, and what should happen except my cellular ring. (It's on one of those annoying real sounding phone ringers until I can snag an OK Go ringtone.) Anywho, the short and long of it is that it was either very late in the evening or very early in the morning, whichever you prefer, and I reached out and picked up the phone, trying to start a conversation. When I realized what I did, I commenced in laughing for about an hour. Or three. Whatever.

And cussing is always the perfect sales picth. Nothing sounds better to a teenager in a shop than "Yeah, [insert title of what they might/might not buy] is fucking amazing."

12:20 PM  
Blogger Think Frustrated said...

I'd fuckin moon you guys, too. You whores! Just kidding. Hey, you are a band probably for two reasons:
1. Make some scratch.
2. Make some ladies scratch your back (from sex, not an itch).

I really would have mooned you, though I would have asked for a butt cheek autograph.

2:08 PM  
Blogger you_go_girl said...

Haha, Rusty you are fn' hilarious! It is nice to know you have such a strong conscience, although considering that those "innocent" teens were practically dismantling Damian, we can hardly criticize Dan for making a quick defensive move that also helped out the cause.

Thanks, too, for finally writing something about Dan. I was beginning to wonder whether you traveled with him in the trunk or something, because he doesn't feature in the stories very often.

Have a nice trip back. Too bad I have no clue how to program my VCR -- I would like to watch you all on GMA.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AHAHAHA yes, i would like to buy some sh!t...

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


FACT: best story ever!

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree, thanks for writing about Dan. We love him, and he deserves more credit. Maybe he could write a blog for us once and a while?

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Trips/Beans said...

and I can prove it. Firstly you sold the vinyls for £1 each. Secondly, I was the one who asked were you a band in the first place.
Thirdly, we asked "where's Damien" to prove that you were OK GO. Fourthly, no one did a backflip over our vans. Fithly, someone asked for change for a £20 pound note. Sixth, we all got loads of pictures on our mobiles (that's cell phones to you guys). Seventh (and finally because I can't remember much of that day) We had to ask for the drummer to come out to sign our copies, he was too busy doing something on your laptop.
Anyway, you guys made our trip and I did buy a copy of "a million ways" I just mooned out of the window of the guy who didn't.

Btw, the only reason he didn't buy a copy was because he was unconscious. Long Story.

We love you guys

6:35 AM  
Anonymous trips/beans said...

It's me again, just saying that I got my webthing wrong. Anyway, if it would be at all possible for you guys to get in touch, I know loads of people who like some form of contact

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Lily said...

I was one of those crazy kids...possibly the one clawing at Damien. Ha. Seeing you did actually make our trip. And...thanks for the signed vinyls! And yeah, it was trips/beans who mooned you. I think we told him to do it. I was the girl wearing the 'I'm with the band top'.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Howlin' Shelle said...

See? No one is safe from Dan's charm.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Dan said...


2:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I am in love with you Rusty...

12:30 PM  
Blogger Nabonidus said...

The other thing that sucks about sales
when you are a teen is that you aren't as confident as you are in later years. At least for me.
I have no problem with walking up to strangers and starting a conversation
nowadays. But back then I was really shy and I just couldn't sell anything.
I got more confident as I got older. Maybe others are like that, too.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Anna Broadway said...

Nice. Hoping to make your your Irving Plaza show ... with a British chum. Just look for the girl in the pink “chaste party girl” shirt ... Expect no mooning from us. We’re old enough to chaperone a high-school trip and probably would sprain something if we tried. (Even party girls slow down eventually ;))

10:48 AM  
Blogger Katy* said...

How much I <3 Dan after reading this is impossible to put down in English words. Maybe if had some other crazy language I could do it. But I don't, so the "<3" thingy will have to suffice.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous court said...

Am I the only one out her who thought that the most important words in this (funny, mind you) story were these: purple, ok go, vinyl!?!?! Brits are not the only ones lovin'em some purple vinyl. Hook us up.

7:46 PM  
Blogger elizabertie said...

I got you beat Rusty......I worked my ass off for six months in concessions at the movie theater I worked at while in high school. I finally got my big chance to work the ticket booth, and what do I do??? Within the first hour, I asked this woman if she wanted the senior citizen's discount and instantaneously unleashed all the demons from Hell. That was when I learned that some people can go gray in their thirties. I never worked the ticket booth again.

The end.

8:12 PM  
Blogger DJ e said...

That was hillarious.

8:54 PM  
Blogger MaSRade said...


Where can I buy one of these limited edition purple singles? I've searched everywhere but can't seem to find them?

1:54 PM  

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