Mark Mothersbaugh is best known for being the lead singer, synth player and co-founder of new-wave group Devo. You may not be surprised to learn that the eccentric frontman has a pretty sizable synth collection. What is slightly more surprising however, is that his studio is located within a bright green UFO-shaped structure, and is packed with electronic gizmos collected over the years.
Watch as Devo singer and keyboardist Mark Mothersbaugh shows off his extensive synth collection, including Bob Moog’s personal Memorymoog.
Mothersbaugh didn’t just play in the band with funny hats that sang Whip It. He also worked on the soundtracks for TV shows such as Rugrats, and video games like Crash Bandicoot. It’s quite the resume, and no doubt, such projects require some interesting instruments. The rounded walls of his studio are lined with synthesizers, drum machines, and other devices from varying stages of his lengthy career.
One of his highlights is Bob Moog’s own Memorymoog, which still contains all of his original sounds. Moog sent it as a gift after being continually pestered by the Devo frontman about the release of a new theremin.
Another one of Mothersbaugh’s favourites is a simplistic device used to play sounds backwards. Mothersbaugh has used it to create secret messages on recordings from Devo to Rugrats. He says he was inspired by watching people freak out about apparent hidden satanic messages on Black Sabbath records. His innovative response was to record “We smell sausage” and play it backwards, which actually sounds very much like ‘Jesus Loves You’. You learn something every day…
The studio is also home to an early drum machine crafted by his brother, who was trying to make a kit out of explosion noises. Mothersbaugh states that he hopes these instruments will be able to tell a story in a chapter of music’s history… to aliens when they inevitably return to Earth.
“Im just kind of documenting my little part of the world during my lifetime, so when the aliens come back and want to see what they started all those years ago, they can have different people’s points of view and different people’s history about what was happening on the planet at the time.”
Fair enough Mark.