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Let's Get Physical 

B-Sides talks physical fitness with treadmill gurus OK Go and blows out some smart-ass birthday candles with the Conformists.

Running with the Treadmill

Ok Go may be Internet phenoms thanks to the video for "Here It Goes Again" — a clip featuring the Chicago bandmates dancing it up on eight treadmills — but they're also no strangers to cinematic shenanigans: A recent reissue of their Cheap Trick-goes-gritty 2005 album, Oh No, features a plethora of videos they've filmed since forming in 1998. Bassist Tim Nordwind checked in from a Boston tour stop about all things exercise.

B-Sides: How tired are you of answering questions about the treadmills?

Tim Nordwind: Obviously, it has become somewhat repetitious. But I also understand that half the reason I'm doing most of these interviews is because of that. I can't complain. I mean, I can complain and I will. But I'm happy to talk about it.

Well, you should be happy — you're the poster children for physical fitness in the year 2006.

Which is pretty hilarious. I haven't stepped into a gym in, like...forever. Maybe ever. [Laughs] I'm like the least athletic person I know.

You can show people, "Look, if I can do it, you can do it!"

Exactly. If I can do it once, you can do it many times.

One would figure that with the holidays and everything, you could bring the treadmills on tour and be "working out" to avoid dreaded weight gain.

Now that we're out and playing live, the first question most people ask is, "Did you bring the treadmills?" I don't think people understand what a gigantic undertaking that means. They're pretty big machines, not to mention that it's not the safest routine to do ever. But then to try to repeat it night after night — you're just asking for a cancelled tour at some point.

You may as well focus on the music.

I'm very proud of that video, I'm very proud that we did it, and I'm super-psyched that it's delighting so many people. But at the end of the day, we're a rock band, and we've got many more ideas. We want to move on, make another record, make more videos and make a lot of other things. Our motto is just sort of like, "We like to make cool shit," and we hope that we continue to get the chance to make cool stuff.
— Annie Zaleski

8 p.m. Monday, November 27. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. Sold out. 314-726-6161.

Ask This Old Band

Suppose you're the singer for an astoundingly confounding St. Louis band that is about to celebrate ten years of constant work with no lineup changes. How would you celebrate? Mike Benker of the Conformists decided to go on PBS' Ask This Old House with his wife. You know, to make things even nicer. On the Conformists' tenth birthday as a band, B-Sides would like to know:

B-Sides: Don't you hate pants?

Mike Benker: No, we hate shirts. They filter the creativity.

Do you think the guy from Ask This Old House knew what he was talking about, or was it all just the great special effects PBS is known for?

I assure you that Tom Silva is the real deal. My shirt, on the other hand, was CGI.

What's the difference between good tuckpointing and merely going through the motions?

Without sounding like a pathetic weed reference, it's all about the pack of the joints. You pack the joints well and finish it with a concave tool; the water will run off properly, assuring a tight seal.

What is the importance of "sad girls" to the Conformists in the year 2007?

We played with a Saddle Creek band, so we told everyone that sad girls would be there. Many people complained of the lack of sad girls, even though it was obvious that they were invisible. We are currently looking to expand our stock of sad girls, so we are currently taking applications.

Two Hundred was the greatest album you could have possibly produced at that time: Yes or true?

This is a trick question. The answer is both "yes" and "true." Two Hundred (as is the case with Three Hundred) was delayed for a long time, as it was so ahead of its time that we needed the rest of the world to catch up for a minimum of two years. I assure you the new album will also fry some eggs.

Any truth to the rumor that Three Hundred still hasn't been released because your label, 54°40' or Fight, is still trying to clear all the samples with the legal department of Motown?

What is it with you people? We have answered this question a hundred times! Do your research, you hack! If you are going to embarrass yourself with this tired bullshit, then this interview is over! I will walk out of here, I swear to God! Is there anything else?

While recording Three Hundred, did you get the feeling that Steve Albini liked you? Like, you know, like-liked you?

He wore sunglasses the whole time, because the music we recorded was bursting with radiant light that resembled angels fucking. We were not four guys in a room, we became one omnipresent force that only a master cocksmith could harness to tape.

Remember back in 2000 when you kidnapped me from a Denny's parking lot and then drove me way out into the Illinois night? Am I still your bitch?

That will depend on how much of this goes to press. The answer is "yes" if 75 to 100 percent makes the cut, if 50 to 74 percent makes it to press then you are merely a puppet, and if zero to 49 percent makes it, then you are a proud feminazi with buckets of self-confidence.

Do you resent winning "Best Noise Band" in the RFT Best of St. Louis poll because you're not a noise band, or because you can't call yourselves the "Susan Luccis of the Music Awards" anymore?

This year was strange. I think in the same issue, we lost the RFT Music Award — five years in a row! Beat that! — but seemed to win the Best of St. Louis award. I think that's how it worked out. They never sent us a trophy or anything, so I guess we won. We also won the KDHX/ Playback awards this year, which we sell at our shows for $50 each. We have two in stock. The plaques don't have our names on them, so you could buy them and add your name if you want, and then you can pretend to be in the Best Noise Band in St. Louis.

Do you sometimes look at [guitarist] Christopher Dee onstage and think, "Man, I bet he's still a little sad about Dimebag being killed?"

We have to hug him often and tell him Dimebag wasn't a real person to calm him down.

Have you ever been so angered by [bassist] Jim Winkeler's supersensitive nature that you called him "Fragile Porcelain Winkeler?" Do you ever accuse him of being related to the Fonz?

No. No again.

When Tom [O'Neill, the drummer] got onstage with King Buzzo and sang "Smells Like Teen Spirit" the last time the Melvins played St. Louis, did you feel like you were watching the reunion of a long-separated father and son?

Tom's real father is Glenn "O'Neill" Danzig.

What Conformists lyric would you most like to offer as advice for your fellow man — keeping in mind that these things have a way of coming back to bite you in the ass?

The only advice I would like to pass on, based on my many years of experience, is: Never, ever, never pass out hundreds of firecrackers to the audience. It never ends well. — Paul Friswold

8 p.m. Saturday, November 25. The Ground Floor Club, 215 East Main Street, Belleville, Illinois. $5. 618-277-1026.

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