Mark Mothersbaugh’s studio is set in a cylindrical structure painted bright green – more like a festive auto parts than an office building. This is the perfect place for iconoclast musicians. For those of you who didn’t spend your childhood obsessively watching MTV’s early years, Mark Mothersbaugh was the mastermind behind the band Devo. They pierce American conformity by dressing alike in shiny uniforms and their music is nervous, restless and strange. They taught a nation that if you must whip it, you must whip it well.
In the years since, Mothersbaugh has embarked on a successful career as a Hollywood composer, turning scores for Jump Street 21 and Tenenbaums Kingdom among others.
In the video above, you can see Mothersbaugh hanging out in her studio filled with synthesizers of various brands and vintages, including Bob Moog’s personal Memorymoog. Watching Mothersbaugh pull away and play with each one is like watching a precocious child talk about his toys. He just has that infectious energy which is so much fun to watch.
Perhaps the best part of the video is when he shows off a device that can play sound backwards. It turns out that if you say, “We smell sausage” in reverse, it sounds really bad like “Jesus loves you.” Who knows?
Below you can see Mothersbaugh in action with Devo, performing live in Japan during the band’s heyday in 1979.
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Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in February 2015.
Devo Philosophy & Music, Avant-Garde Art Project Dedicated To Revealing The Truth About De-Evolution
Neil Young Plays “Hey, Hey, My, My” with Devo: Watch Classic Scenes from the Improv Movie Human Highway (1980)
See Devo Perform Live for the First Time (Kent State University, 1973)
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him on @joncrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, which features lots of badger pictures and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads. Veeptopus shop is here.