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The lead singer and keyboardist for Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh, is an avant-garde, new wave pioneer. Although critics sometimes classify Devo as a joke band, the Akron, Ohio art-punks’ ethos was created in response to a very serious event—the 1970 shooting at their college, Kent State. Following the incident, the band took on the name “Devo,” short for what they felt was organized society’s “de-evolution.”

Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s Devo helped lay the groundwork for DIY, anti-establishment bands by releasing bizarre and left-of-center music and conceptual films that helped usher in the music video revolution.

In addition to his work with Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh has also created a long and successful career scoring for TV and film. His credits include, Pee-Wee’s PlayhouseThe Rugrats TV show and movies, and he’s scored several classic Wes Anderson-directed films including The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore.

On today’s episode Justin Richmond talks to Mark Mothersbaugh about how he developed his quirky sensibility as one of five kids growing up in a chaotic household with exotic animals. Mark also tells a story about the time Richard Branson suggested that Johnny Rotten join Devo after the Sex Pistols broke up.

You can hear a playlist of some of our favorite Mark Mothersbaugh songs HERE.

The Hosts

Rick Rubin

In addition to being a podcast host, Frederick Jay “Rick” Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder…

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is co-founder of Pushkin Industries and host of the hit podcast Revisionist History. He is a journalist, a speaker, and the author of several New York Times bestsellers including The Tipping…

Justin Richmond

Justin Richmond is producer and co-host of the music podcast Broken Record with writer Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times editor Bruce Headlam, and music producer—and Def Jam co-founder—Rick Rubin. Justin…

Bruce Headlam

Bruce Headlam is one of the co-creators of the music podcast Broken Record. He worked at The New York Times for 19 years, including two years running the 50-person Video…