INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
The Wire MAY 2009 - by Richard Henderson
INVISIBLE JUKEBOX: MARK MOTHERSBAUGH
NEGATIVLAND Old Is New from No Business
Mark Mothersbaugh: Who did that?
Richard Henderson: It's Negativland.
MM: Well, there's a soft spot in my heart for deconstruction of icons and, well where was that when we were kids?
RH: it was on the original record.
MM: Oh, those funny Negativland guys.... We're onto the next song now.
RH: Oh, we'll stop it then. I'd rather talk about Negativland for a bit. Are you familiar with their stuff, Negativland?
MM: I played on one of their tracks.
RH: Really? Which one?
MM: I can't remember! I'm sure we could find out if we looked at the internet cos it tells you everything you ever did.
RH: So you worked with Negativland?
MM: I worked with Negativland before, yes.
RH: How did that come to pass?
MM: I don't know. It was in that crazy time period of Church of the Sub Genius and, I don't even know how to say their name - doing stuff with Einstürzende Neubauten.
RH: Oh, the Collapsing New Buildings guys.
MM: Yeah and things just kind of surfaced and you were like 'Hey, that's kind of an interesting idea' and worked on something with somebody and it turned into a strange record.
RH: What was it like to work with Negativland?
MM: Er, long distance. So it wasn't like we ever in the...
RH: ...same room.
MM: We weren't ever working in the same room. They sent me things that I - if I recall this correctly - they sent me things and I added to 'em.
RH: What did you do on them?
MM: I gotta go and listen to the song again. I did too many of those things.
RH: But they were cool with it and it came out and everything?
RH: So do you feel a kinship with what Negativland does to what Devo does?
MM: Well I'm... maybe more so than a lot of pop bands. I like their subversive attitude to music. Their willingness to be a little bit kind of off the beaten path and politically doing things that you're not supposed to do.
RH: Like going toe-to-toe with U2.
MM: Yeah. Cos it's one of those issues where you can see both sides. You can have empathy on both sides of the map, especially if you're an artist. So yeah, I like them.
RH: You're cool with what they do.
MM: Ok. I have to warn you I got what feels like a sixty pound lead dunce cap on today cos I just started antibiotics. Everything's kind of moving in slow motion.
RH: Well, you might enjoy this next one then.
MM: If worst comes to worst I can just pay you to make it all up.
• • •
THE RESIDENTS Hitler Was A Vegetarian from Third Reich'n'Roll
MM: I have eighteen-and-a-half minutes to figure out what it is... Sounds pretty good.
Is this Monty Python's medley of pop songs or something?
RH: Ha, no.
MM: The whistling's got a modicum of talent on that Monty Python level. And then that's Judy In Disguise With Glasses and...this goes on for eighteen minutes?
RH: Yeah, it's The Residents.
MM: This is The Residents? Those little rascals.
RH: Hitler Was A Vegetarian from Third Reich'n'Roll.
MM: Can you imagine all the rights, how many writers they had to put to this track, if they would have done it.
RH: If they could do it, ha ha.
MM:See I have a soft spot for The Residents and for a very good reason. They, um... Crocus Behemoth who later became David Thompson, when he decided to use his own name, and was the singer of Pere Ubu.
RH: ...David Thomas.
MM: Yeah, David Thomas. One time when Devo played in Cleveland he said "You know, you guys aren't the only guys who recorded Satisfaction. And I go "Really?" And he played me The Residents version and I thought "OK, our version is better but that's pretty good" but then I started checkin' out their stuff and I really liked them and um, I don't know, coupla years later we signed with this hippy lawyer named Eliot Roberts.
RH: Neil Young's manager.
MM: Yeah Neil Young's manager... Did I just call him a lawyer? I'm really not going to do good today, I can tell already. Yeah, he's a manager... So we signed with Eliot Roberts. He signed us because Neil Young told him to. He didn't really know what we were doing. But anyhow, we did our first tour over in England and while we were over there, you'd meet young bands who were interested in Devo and they'd give you a tape and you'd talk to them, and this band called The Human League gave us this tape, and they were really good. It was kinda like the guys who'd split away cos they thought the Human League had gotten too soft and they were called Heaven 17. It was those guys and The Human League guys all together, those first few demos were actually much better than what came out as the first Human League album. But, they gave us this tape and I went back to LA and I gave it to Eliot and said "I found the tape of this really great band you gotta sign, they're going to be really big." And he said "What 'r' they called?" and I said "Heaven 17" and I played him the tape and he said "If that music makes it big I'll eat my hat". He said that exact cliché to me. And it's like, somebody signed them and they had hit records on both sides of the Atlantic. And after that he said "Are there any other bands you like?" And I was like "Yeah! There's this really great band from San Francisco called The Residents!" And I talked him and Billy Gerber into signing The Residents and all I remember is they played in Pasadena as a showcase of - God, what tour was it? - the Mole tour or something. All I know it was their weirdest thing I'd ever seen them do so far as looking like a high school production. I mean it really looked like a high school production. There were people with cardboard things where the craft paper was peeling off of the front thing cos it wasn't tacked down right...it looked like they had the budget of a high school production because they were all in leotards and stuff, and carrying this stuff around and people would run out with a little flash light. It looked so dinky! And I was sitting there thinking "Wow, this is the dinkiest thing they've ever done". It wasn't like their videos, cos their videos were kind of scary...
RH: ...and really produced.
MM: And all I remember is Eliot, as soon as the show was over, walking up to me and saying "Don't ever recommend another band to me." Ha ha!
MM: I thought he needed to see that anyhow. I always liked them. And they have had things they did which were pure genius in their time. Probably my all-time favourite thing they ever did though was It's A Man's World the James Brown song, where they had what sounded like an emasculated little lab rat singing the song. I just thought that was so excellent.
RH: Well I brought them into this because, when you're coming out of the murk of the early '70s when the whole world had gone Allman Brothers and then suddenly you started seeing these weird little singles that people were putting out themselves. I mean, English imports were the only interesting things in '73, '74, '75, and then suddenly all these things started coming out like Devo's first two singles and The Residents' first things.
MM: They weren't easy to get. In those days there was no internet. There was no way to say "I'm interested in some Eskimo Slovakian clog dancing heavy metal music. But now, if you click those four terms, there's somewhere out there doing that. Totally amazing. But in those days there was like one bin in record stores that contained oddities, weird stuff, or 'other stuff' as they'd call it. You'd go there and even Red Sovene would have a whole area to himself but you'd have to go there to find Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Wildman Fisher, Silver Apples, stuff like that, or The Residents then later on.
RH: Well, good. Let's get the next one on.
• • •
NELLY Hot In Herre from Nellyville
MM: He's busting loose and he's going to leak some juice? Haha! I like the production on it, the lyrics...
RH: That's Nelly's (It's Getting) Hot In Herre.
MM:...stupid lyrics. Like most pop music.
RH: But I read somewhere you guys did a cover of that. That you played a smidge of it when you did a gig in Central Park in New York a while ago, like maybe one of your Nike gigs...
MM: You know what, I think maybe one of our radio transmitters were picking up somebody's iPod or something.
RH: Yet another Spinal Tap moment in Devo's history... But also I brought it up because all Hiphop is such sequenced music.
MM: I wish I could get Devo to go back to reductive synthesis, and, I like that production because it's so clean, and a lot of our stuff would do that, but I don't like those kinda lyrics. That's my problem with most music. That's my problem with most of the music that's out today. It's like, there's things that sound really good, but people mostly pick uninteresting things to say most of the time. I mean he's talking about how he's going to leak some juice on the dancefloor or something!? I mean, I only listened to the first verse, maybe he gets into something later on with more weight to it. I kinda wish people had sung one song about a dancefloor like thirty or forty years ago and then got over their obsession with talking about the dancefloor.
RH: Yeah, Ok. Well, let's get to the next one.
• • •
POSTAL WORKS - UNIVERSITY OF GHANA Cancelling Stamps At The University Of Ghana Post Office from the CD supplement to Worlds Of Music 1
MM: Is it really what he said it was?
MM: If that's really what he says it is, I don't know why our postal system hasn't imported some, er...
MM: ...personnel to try and figure out what's going on. I mean, that's just about the happiest people at work I ever heard in my life. Good God. And you know what, the postal system is alive and well in Ghana - sounded like there's a lot of letters being stamped. Hey, if they deliver with that much enthusiasm, maybe you'd start using postcards again, maybe.
RH: I've not heard recordings of postmen on their beat in Ghana, but that's what happens at the university of Ghana post office when people are cancelling stamps.
MM: Good grief, they should just play that over the loudspeaker system in every post office in the United States. I can't imagine them working that fast. Can you imagine if you had a video just cutting back between the Ghanaian post office and any post office in America? It'd have to be sad. Especially the one in our neighbourhood where I've written four letters to try and get our post deliverer changed, because she, every single day, delivers my mail to someone else on my street, and gives me someone else's post at random. Somewhere between getting the bag and getting over to my house, she has some stop-over where she has some mind-altering experience, that just guarantees that I never get the right stuff.
MM: I tried to talk to her about it and she just laughed at me. So I said well ok, I'm going to call your boss. But apparently it's very difficult to actually fire people in West Hollywood in the postal service. I don't know why. Seems like it would be easy to get that level of incompetence, but...
RH: Well, suffice to say she doesn't sound as happy or as efficient as these people here.
MM: No. The happiest she ever sounded was laughing at me for telling her to deliver my mail to me, and other people's mail to them, or not to me.
RH: Well, I put that on there just because I don't think when people think of Devo, they don't think of an African component particularly. But I guess maybe from the start of hearing you guys covered the Lee Dorsey song Working In A Coalmine, suddenly that just made me think not only have we got this dream thing of a garage band with electronics, which was the thing that drew me to your stuff in the first place, but that there was this link to the dark continent in what you did too. There was like a rhythmic component that was very good...
MM: Well, we were... We thought of ourselves early on as The Jetsons meet The Flintstones. We thought that, at our best... Jerry came from a blues band, Bob was hard rocker, and I was the mad scientist that was kind of into all this weird Electronica stuff. We had elements from both sides. What that sounded closest to in what we did was, there was this two-week period where we had - I don't know why this happened - there was one place where we were allowed to rehearse, someone's basement or something. And I don't know if it was flooded, getting painted, fumigated, or something which meant for a couple of weeks we couldn't rehearse. And we couldn't handle not making music for those weeks. Even though we had no job, and no foreseeable gig in the future, or anything, we just wanted to make music together. And I remember at one point we went to my brother Jim's apartment and we were just sitting around on a couch and we had a little tape recorder - it wasn't even a tape recorder, it was a phone message machine.
RH: Like a Dictaphone?
MM: Yeah, just a monophonic thing that you plugged your phone line into so that when it clicked over - you remember the old days where you could kind, after your outgoing message played, you could listen to see who it was. So if it was a creditor you could like not pick the phone up. Or an angry girlfriend or something. And I remember we were sitting there, me, Jerry [Casale] and Bob [Casale] and Jim [Mothersbaugh, Devo's original drummer] and me, and we had no instruments or anything, playing with our mouths and on the table. We just played all of the songs with our mouths and on the table. Jerry did the bassline for "I've been through you" like pum pum pum bierrieugh and I did the synth part with my mouth. We've got the recording of that somewhere.
RH: Wow, I'd like to hear that.
MM: It's actually kinda sad.
RH: I like the idea of Devo a cappella.
MM: It's kind of funny cos, people think of Devo as cynical but we were kind of optimistic. Cos even though we talked about de-evolution we thought 'Oh, people just need to know the right information and they'll make the right choices'. We didn't think it was going to turn out the way it has turned out, as of today. Much more Devo than we though it was going to be.
RH: Mmm. Ok, let's hit the next one.
• • •
SPARKS Girl From Germany from A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing
MM: Wait a minute. Didn't the last people you did this with, didn't the last guy pass away?
RH: Ha ha! No. Oh wait, yeah Lux from The Cramps.
MM: That's the only time that happened right? That's atypical.
RH: Yeah, that's atypical! Ha!
[starts tune again]
MM: So that's Marc Bolan, Brian Eno and a couple of the Devo guys, right? I don't know. I don't know one track! I'm musically illiterate.
RH: It's ok it's not a quiz. Let's listen to some more.
MM: More whistling!
MM: So who is that? The Kinks or someone?
RH: It's Sparks.
MM: Oh it's Sparks. That kind of is all those people.
MM: Yeah, even after I met him I was still a big Ron Mael fan.
RH: Ha! What do you mean, even after you met him!?
MM: Well, I just had this whole idea of, who he could have been. Just from seeing him on TV...
RH: This is from their second album - '74. Or '73 actually.
MM: Wow, that's a long...Somehow they got on TV with this stuff. I remember him...I mean that still sounds really nice doesn't it?
RH: Oh yeah. Completely modern; really good.
MM: I remember him with his really stern Adolf Hitler look, and it was so not rock n' roll, in an unexpected way, that you just couldn't help but think that there was something there.
RH: At your wedding, I had a really great conversation with Jimmy [Mothersbaugh] about them. In fact, I didn't even know it was Jimmy, but I heard this guy walk by and say 'Gee, those guys from Sparks, I wonder what they're doing these days' and I immediately jumped in the conversation cos they'd just put out an album and he said, 'Oh yeah, you know when I worked at Roland they'd say they were doing this concert in Orange County and there was no money but you'd go and do it cos they're such nice guys'. And Jimmy and I had a long conversation about Sparks.
MM: They played at his wedding.
RH: Sparks played at Jimmy's wedding?
MM: Yeah. The Mael brothers. And I got really drunk and sang I Need A Chick - the foulest lyrics that exist for it - and always kind of regretted it in a way, just cos neither Sparks nor Jimmy's in-laws deserved it.
RH: But going back to what you were saying about being a big fan of Ron Mael's even after meeting him.
MM: Well just cos I never...I only met him in public situations which weren't his forte as much as his brother. His brother was the flamboyant, you know...
RH: Bambi-eyed, good-looking, curly-haired guy...
MM: Or irritating-looking, poofy version of the two of them. And I really liked Ron and I always said, well, I don't care what Russell's doing, I'm sure Ron really runs everything and it's really his band...
RH: Well, you've seen the album cover - one of their '80s album covers [Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat] - it's a painting, really good, kind of photo-realist painting of Ron in a T-shirt glaring at the artist and he's holding up a hand-puppet with Russell's head on it. It's a bit more of a democracy than that, but the balance of power I think is illustrated there.
MM: Ron got the songs. Russell got the girls.
RH: Did you listen to their stuff before Devo started?
MM: Well, OK. I'm sure I did. There was that record Kimono...
RH: Kimono My House - their third record, that was their first big hit record when they moved to England and went to Island Records...
MM: I'm sure there's stuff... I never collected records. Cos to me, it was like, money I put into buying records, that was money that went away from making records. I collected records when I was younger, but during that time period in the '70s I was writing stuff. And my day-job was depressing enough that, I would get, my girlfriend and I would have a talk on Friday and say 'If we drink tea and eat toast all weekend, I can buy another reel of the crappiest brand of tape, the crummiest brand of recording tape. Shamrock! I would buy Shamrock recording tape for like six bucks, or five bucks, or three bucks a reel. And then I could record two more songs on my four-track Teac that weekend. And so, I didn't buy a lot of records, and I heard other people's collections, so I knew of them from that, or from going to clubs, and if it was on a forty-five you would... everybody had a jukebox those days in their clubs.
RH: Ok, let's push on to the next one.
• • •
RH: It's early '90s.
MM: That would be great to play live. That's the kind of thing where then you've got to say two points for digital recording, cos it made it easier... were those, do you know what kind of instruments were used, were those, it sounds like they might have been using circuit bent toys... whatever was playing that lead thing.
RH: It's a Brian Eno piece.
MM: Brian Eno did that?
RH: Yeah. I don't know the full extent of the instrumentation. I think he had a percussionist on it, some other people. Ok, so that's Brian Eno, his Nerve Net record. I think that piece Wire Shock might be his response to Fela. To his enthusiasm for Fela - that stabbing horn charts...da da da da...those long jams that Fela did.
MM: Well, he did some of the best synth solos in rock, even way back on that first Roxy album. He changed everything when he did that Editions Of You where there's obviously not a keyboard involved, and he's going wee wee wah, wee wae weeou. When I heard that solo it took everything up to a new level. That was a very big moment in rock I thought.
RH: Yeah I remember you saying to me a long time ago talking about how keyboard history would, how electronic music history would be so different if people weren't so married to keyboards, to piano and keyboards.
MM: This obviously he was using something to bend it with. It has kind of a guitar sound but I'd guess he was using a keyboard, and oscillator and wah-wah pedal all at once. It sounded really great.
RH: Did he play at all when he produced you guys' first record?
MM: Yeah. Matter of fact I haven't talked to him... Devo produced some things for David Byrne five years ago or something for one of his solo records.
RH: Oh for that Feelings solo record ...
MM: And uh, I told him 'I write to Brian sometimes, and he never writes back'. 'Don't feel bad', he says, 'He never answers my calls ever, unless he wants to do something or unless he wants to talk to me. He just ignores everybody, he doesn't respond'. But I always... we had transferred the tracks about seven or eight years go off of the twenty-four track master onto some digital format and in the process realised that on almost every song he had recorded extra electronic tracks. We used them a couple of times. He put a loop on Jocko Homo - that chakachakcachacka, with the singers from, not Nepal, not Thailand, somewhere. Same place where the gamelan guys come from?
RH: What, like Bali or Java? The [Ramayana] monkey chant...
MM: Yeah, the monkey chant. And he put that into... I'm sure the word "monkey" in the song Jocko Homo set it off. But it was a really great loop to put inside Jocko Homo. And we worked with him, there was no midi so, we kind of slowed down what we did a bit, and he put it on a piece of tape and put it on a spindle so he could change the speed by hand and he synched up the monkey chants for about a twenty second, fifteen second little piece in Jocko Homo and we ended up trying to do that on stage for the next tour and it was really ridiculous cos we'd always be going too fast and have to slow down for the chackahckahchacka...
RH: Without referencing any click-track or anything?
MM: Yeah, cos it was before that. So we would just have it on a reel of tape and just go boom and it would miss almost every time, the tempo would change but we'd instantly cut to the monkey chant tempo.
RH: Did that monkey chant wind up onto the printed stereo?
MM: Yep. It's on the album. And he did something with the Eventide [harmonizer] where Too Much Paranoias where everything just stops and there's this tumbling electronic sound hat's really amazing like didldiddlididdli.
RH: Kind of like Harmonizer feedback.
MM: Yeah and it crashes and it's like, I never heard that before and was like wow that's great. We put that in. And then, he sang a harmony back-up on Uncontrollable Urge, and there were a couple of other things that he did that we used but there was a lot of stuff we never used, and I always thought, if we had left him alone, what would our album have sounded like? Cos, we were totally obsessed. We'd been living with those songs onstage for a couple of years and we'd been battling everybody, so when we got into the studio, we were over his shoulder the whole time - maybe a little over-obsessive.
RH: Not Jerry though [laughs].
MM: No! Everyone but Jerry. Ho ho! But like we all already knew what we wanted it to sound like so when he was like 'I'm going to help these guys get their album out. They're a little bit crazy and not fun to work with', and I just always thought, there's all these tracks, and if we were U2 he'd probably go back and revisit it, but as we're Devo he probably doesn't care. But I've read in places where people say that the Devo production was probably his best album production he ever did.
RH: And you did all that at Connie Plank's studio in Germany right?
MM: That's right. It was a pretty great time. Cos the walls had [album covers from] all these bands that I'd never heard of like Guru Guru, Mothers Milk, things like that, like German prog bands, I don't know. You'd see a Kraftwerk or a Moebius and Roedelius sleeve, and those guys came and hung out with us for a while, and Can... We ended up jamming with Holger Czukay over there. I've got a tape somewhere... Jerry missed the plane on the way to Germany, he was fighting with his girlfriend at Kennedy airport on the phone and they closed the doors and we took off. So we were over there and we weren't going to have a bass player for another day and so Holger played bass and David Bowie and Brian Eno fooled around and we jammed for like three or four hours one day and I've got the tape on half-inch reel-to-reel tape somewhere. But, um, Brian Eno, Devo owes a lot to him. Just for our survival and managing to make it out of the club thing and actually make it into a studio.
RH: Cool. Alright, let's get on to the next one then.
• • •
CRAZY ELEPHANT Gimme Gimme Good Lovin' from Grandson Of Frat Rock!
MM: And that's the freaky little thing that would make you then have to buy the record, because the guy's acting like a total creepy moron for like one bar of the song.
RH: But the guitar solo is really interesting, and I'm told it's a favourite guitar solo of Lou Reed's actually.
MM: I think I played this in a covers band when I was in high school.
MM: It's contagious, 'cos then two of them start doing it. Just makes it to two minutes long. They got done what they needed to do. Yeah I like it. It's like um, there's a lot of women who are going to be disappointed when they find out he's true to his one girl, from somewhere to Texarkan'. "Yuk-uk-uk" - Was that supposed to be the girl joining in, or was that just one of the guys who was making you feel like he and his girlfriend were?
RH: True blue.
MM: It's kind of disturbing that sound.
RH: Ha ha.
MM: But it's kind of like something from [Popeye cartoon character] Alice of Goon Island or something.
RH: Oh, from Popeye yeah.
MM: It's a good guitar solo though. The fact that he did that on a record... Cos even the organ solo is kind of precise. As close as you'd get to a sequencer without... well, not as close as, but pretty close. I can see Lou Reed saying that was one of his favourite guitar solos. It's kind of an anti-guitar solo. Let's hear it again.
MM: That's pretty far out.
RH: Well given that, I don't know if it came from that Katzenatz & Katz production team that was behind all that bubblegum songs like Yummy Yummy Yummy and things like that, but it's definitely in that same genre.
MM: Well, the rest of the song is a formula for bubblegum: "Gimme gimme gimme good lovin' all through the night"
RH: Crazy Elephant, that's the name of the group.
MM: Hehe. It's the little fetishy things in there that make it. But why does his buddy start doing that thing with him?
RH: What, the "heeyah heeyah heeyah" thing?
• • •
SUICIDE Cheree from Suicide
MM: Yeah I like this band. They were one of the first bands early on that I became aware of by just seeing them in a club in New York and I was just mesmerised. He was one of the best performers I ever saw. It was like feeling like I was doing drugs just watching him doing drugs.
RH: That's interesting cos when I did the Invisible Jukebox with [The Cramps'] Lux and Ivy back when I was living in your guest house six years ago I played a Suicide track from them and Ivy just kind of wilted saying 'He was the most amazing performer' same as you. But kind of like Devo they were a garage band with electronics feeling to it.
MM: Yeah. He kind of introduced me to the New York arts scene in an interesting way. Um...
RH: ...You're talking about Alan Vega now?
MM: Yes. We both did two sets at Max's, Kansas City one night and I had this brand new SM58 microphone. I don't know who bought it or how I ended up with it but I had this microphone that I had brought from Akron that somebody there owned and, he was looking at it like 'Hey that's a nice microphone you got there'. And they weren't nice microphones, they were stage microphones you know.
RH: An ElectroVoice mic.
MM: Yeah, they were like seventy-five bucks back in the day. And he goes 'Mind if I use that for our set?' and I go 'No'.
RH: I can see where this is going...
MM: So I'm watching him and I'm like really mesmerised by his show, I'm like 'These guys are good, these guys are really great', and it's getting near the end of the set and he looks down at me and he takes my mic and goes up to the monitor and goes bam bam bam bam, about twenty times, hitting the mic on the monitor as hard as he could to see if he could break it, and then when he got off stage he gave it to me and I asked 'Why did you do that to my microphone?' and he says 'The artist reigns supreme'. And I was like 'Wow, that's pretty intense'. I was impressed by that.
RH: But they made the transition from really funky tracks like that one to big twenty-four-track or more productions... Ric Ocasek from The Cars producing them... and I never felt their thing translated well to a bigger format.
MM: Yeah, I agree with you. They were best onstage and dirty and gritty. In a way they were kind of as much a godfather to industrial sounds as anyone, cos they had that sound together, really minimal and right to the point you know, really early on. Frankie Teardrop, I love that song, that was crazy.
RH: Yeah, that's on this album too, on their first album. Not on this disc I've got here but on their first album, which came out on Marty Thau's label. He was their manager, and wasn't he one of the people claiming to be Devo's manager at one point?
MM: Yeah, he had Red something Records...
RH: Red Star.
MM: Yep, Red Star Records and at one point we read that he was our manager some place. And just at that point we were like 'That's enough, just for doing that we don't want to do anything with him.' That was enough of a warning not to get involved. They had a pretty compact set-up. I just remember they didn't have a lot of gear. They didn't need a lot of gear to do what they did. RH: I remember seeing Martin Rev at [Manhattan art space] The Kitchen once, just solo. Cos he put out a solo album. And his thing, he would play the tape of his thing and stand there with these wraparound sunglasses and his leather jacket and this whole look and just occasionally dramatically adjust the EQ on the amplifier. The whole thing was just him standing there adjusting the EQ.
MM: That's pretty good.
RH: That's how it was at The Kitchen. But anyways...
MM: One of them's alive still right?
RH: They both are.
MM: They both are. Now as a sight, [gallery owner] Jeffrey Deitch he came over here once and when he was here we were talking about things. I can't remember which one he said he was doing the art show with...
RH: Alan Vega probably. He used to do these great big junk assemblage pieces with light and sparks coming off them. It actually looked like you didn't want to get too close to them in case you were electrocuted.
MM: When they were both kids, Jeffrey said 'When I get my gallery, and when I get famous I want to do a show with you'. And he was like 'Sure'.
RH: This is Alan Vega he was talking to?
MM: Yeah. So last year he called Alan and he was like 'It only took you twenty-five years to make good on your word!'
RH: Haha! So. On to the next one.
• • •
PERE UBU Heart Of Darkness (Live at Devil's Cove) from CLE19 No 3X Big! Wave CLE Magazine CD supplement
MM: Just to let you know, if you had played this to me yesterday I wouldn't have been able to listen to it.
MM: Cos I had such a screaming headache.
RH: Oh fuck, sorry.
MM: No, that was yesterday.
RH: Oh, ok good.
MM: What record was that?
RH: It's a live thing from the magazine CLE, from Cleveland, and they had this audio supplement that had this live recording on it. I think it's the only place it was available.
MM: What year is it?
RH: Well, the recording is from 1978 I think and it's from the club called Pirates Cove.
MM: It sounds like Pirates Cove. I think '78 was right when, just my feeling about this band was, I liked everything they did before, from '77 and earlier. My favourite stuff of theirs was all Non-Alignment Pact, Final Solution...
RH: The Modern Dance record.
MM: Yeah, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, the stuff where they still kept that song form to it. Is Alan [Ravenstein] the synth player, is he playing the horn?
RH: I can't tell. Cos it's got that weeeagh Captain Beefheart style horn part on it, but I'm used to that big school house synthesiser that he had, the EMS or whatever, but I couldn't hear him on that.
MM: It might have been someone like Ralph Carney, someone like that, or it might have been him. We were big early on fans. They were the first art band we met, they were the first real band that we had any interaction with and our interaction was that club there. They played there and we played at a club down in Akron called The Crypt and we helped get it worked out so that they could get booked for The Crypt, and they helped it get worked out so that Devo could get booked at Pirates Cove. We started off kind of friends, and then, and I remember being really impressed sitting at The Crypt once and watching David - I think he was still Crocus Behemoth at the time - watching him during Final Solution and he had this hair like Larry from The Three Stooges and he would reach up and grab a handful and rip it out for real!
MM: I remember thinking 'Wow, you can't do that forever! That's gonna end some day!' And I thought, that was pretty intense, and I just remember being really impressed and thinking 'these guys are really into their art' and, we really liked them a lot. Then we played a show at Pirates Cove, and Booji Boy would, in the middle of Jocko Homo which we used to make painfully long, the chanting "Are we not men? We are Devo" we used to chant that till people got really angry, even fans would get angry, but then Booji Boy came out in the middle of the song with his suit stuffed really big, kinda like mimicking Crocus - we didn't have the yellow jumpsuit yet, we were working on it. We had these like grey short-sleeved fireman's overalls with a zipper down the front and you peeled the whole thing off, it was like a leisure suit or something. And Booji Boy had this thing that they sold on TV for $9.99 and you could make it really big if you wanted to, kind of stuff it and it make Booji Boy really big. And I was pretending like I was singing, I forget which song, one of Pere Ubu's songs and then the band - what was the name of the band? - Peter Laughner.
RH: Rocket From The Tombs.
MM: They were somewhere in between Rocket From The Tombs and this other band he was in - to me they sounded like Bruce Springsteen or something. We were like 'Oh'. They had this drum thing and they were going "Wolves" do diddle do, "Wolves", do diddle do, "they gather in packs", do diddle do, "they hunt at night", do diddle do, it was something like that and he was like really into wolves. So Booji Boy came out really big, and then I was singing something really stupid, Spuds or something, and both Crocus and Peter were unhappy with it. And Peter Laughner before he died said "I put a curse on you Devo" and then left - made a big dramatic departure just after we finished Jocko Homo. So the twenty-five people who were there were all like 'Whoah! What happened'. It didn't really mean much. But after that Crocus, I don't think he was my friend, I think he took it personally me putting on a fat-suit. He didn't think it was funny. But I liked all the early stuff a lot. But when he started singing like a bird twittering, things like that, I kind of faded out on it cos I thought they missed a calling of writing some of the best rock songs.
RH: Yeah. Non-Alignment Pact is just so brilliant.
MM: They had three or four songs that should be in the Hall Of Fame for all time best rock 'n' roll songs.
RH: And Ravenstine was one of the best, a really fantastic synthesizer player... Good, so, punch the next one.
MM: You know when I talked about ignoring the keyboard. He didn't have a keyboard.
RH: That was just patch chords and knobs on that thing. My understanding was, his synthesizer, Ravenstine's synthesizer was developed to teach school children about electronic music.
MM: You want to know what his synthesizer looked like? I can show you right now.
RH: Oh, I know what it looks like. It was this big, bulky...
MM: The one he took on stage when I was him wasn't that big.
RH: Oh really?
MM: It was like a wooden upright version of the AKS synthi suitcase.
RH: Yeah it was an EMS one.
MM: Like the one Eno used, but his was a... I got one in the room next door there.
RH: What, the actual Ravenstine synth?
MM: No, I wish.
RH: But the same model. I wonder what he's doing now.
MM: I hope he's making music.
RH: But he was sort of out of them for a while. I remember there was sort of like a transition period, him going out and someone else coming in.
MM: I can understand that. It would be a tough band. That would be a tough band to have to be in all the time. It would be like being in Sun Ra's band. There's something great about it but it would also really take its toll on the players.
RH: Yeah, it would eat your life. So, hit the next one, I'm curious to know what you think of this.
• • •
RAYMOND SCOTT Don't Beat You Wife Every Night from Manhattan Research Inc.
MM: Who did that?
RH: That's Raymond Scott.
MM: Raymond Scott did that? That's pretty good.
RH: Don't Beat You Wife Every Night, all those little commercial bits from the '50s that he did. You were a trustee of his estate or something weren't you?
MM: Um, I'll tell you the story. Longer version than I need to probably. I'll try and make it a short version. About six months before he died - what's that about seven years ago? I don't want to say a year because I don't remember exactly. But about six months before he died, someone called me up. A friend of mine who's a writer for like Mix and EQ magazine.
RH: This isn't Mr Bonzai is it?
MM: Yeah. And he says 'Hey Mark, Im going to go and interview Raymond Scott today, do you want to come along?' And I go 'He's alive?', and he goes 'Yeah.' So we went out to the valley to this house, just a single storey ranch house and it had like a guest house out the back that was his studio. And, um, we came in and the house was in a pretty decrepit state, and we met his little wife Mitzie who was kind of like about four and a half feet tall and impressive in her own way. She'd ground her teeth all the way down to the gums so you just saw what looked like sawn off tree trunks all through her mouth, but she was wearing an ASCAP t-shirt I think, and they had a couple of dogs. One was a Boston terrier that had broken his Achilles tendon - his Achilles tendon was broken on both sides, or it was a disease I don't know what. But it hopped like a rabbit. So it stood, this part was down on the ground so it was like a long flat foot, and it would hop. It was totally bizarre-looking. And being a Boston terrier made it even stranger cos they've got those great faces. It was a happy dog, hopping round the front yard, and she took us into the house and we sat down on the sofa and there was a big... we looked up at the ceiling, it was one of those, I don't know, like a crepe ceiling, where it looks like they put chiffon on the ceiling, I forget what that's called, it was probably asbestos... But right over the couch there was this giant spot and oval, about five feet around, of black mould. And it was right over top of her. So she sat down with her one dog on one side and her little Boston terrier on the other side. This other dog jumped up that was kind of like a sad old collie type of thing, they kind of look like they have Egyptian make-up on?
RH: Yeah I know what you're talking about.
MM: And it sat down and it had some big tumour on its genitalia. And when it sat down it had this thing the size of a grapefruit, which made his little lipstick tube shoot up. So she's sitting there talking to us and we're both looking at this dog that has this lipstick tube that shoots up and, the dog looks at it like it like he's never seen it before and proceeds to start like cleaning it up. And she starts talking to us and she says 'You know I never ... I just met him in the 70s and we never talked about what he did in the old days, y'know and, I remember one day we were looking at our ASCAP royalties a few years ago and I've seen this over and over again, Ren & Stimpy, Ren & Stimpy, and I'm wondering 'what's this Ren & Stimpy?' so we turned on the TV and I said 'Raymond is that your music?' and he goes 'Yeas.' And everything that was played, it was all his music and I said 'When did you write that' and he said 'A long time ago'. And that's all I knew was that he did music for cartoons, until just recently, er, this man Irwin Chusid came and told me about him.
RH: Ah, from WFMU, Irwin Chusid.
MM: He wasn't being helpful with the interview. He would run into the room with his PJs on, and this was at like four in the afternoon, and he had PJs on and he kind of looked like Uncle Sam. He was skinny with this white hair that was sticking up and he had like a goatee and a shock of hair, and he would say stuff like 'Hello! Goodbye!' And it was just like you know in a '40s movie if somebody was going to say what a crazy guy would say...
RH: The eccentric uncle kind of thing...
MM: And he would run out of the room, and his wife would say 'That means he wants lunch'. She'd go into the other room and fix him lunch and he'd be in there eating something quietly with her, then she comes back and says 'I don't know if he's going to be up for the interview right now. Let's go out and look at his studio. Would you like to see it?' and we're like 'Yeah'. So on the way out back there's like a chicken shack - and by chicken shack I mean it was small, like six feet by four feet, it had no windows in it, and we could see that it was stuffed with tapes that had been rained on and this was out in the valley, like north Hollywood, and there was no temperature control and there were reels of tapes, you could see the ends of tape sticking out of them. This chicken shack was filled with tape. And we went back into his studio which was like a studio apartment. Like it had a big room and a little bathroom. And the [artificial intelligence composing synth] Electronium was right there. There was stacks of sheet music like this tall, like four feet tall, that had tipped over, and they were for like orchestra arrangements of things but nobody ever picked the stack up - it had been over for a while, and people had walked across it. There were stacks of acetates from when he had the TV, the radio show I mean, the live radio show, and he'd recorded all these performances like Ella Fitzgerald coming on and performing with the Raymond Scott band and that was the recording right there of it on that acetate, only because he was running a recording of his shows did these things exist and he took it with him. There was one sitting on the ground next to where there was a turntable, and this guy that was the gardener and he had long hair and was kind of like Crackers from of Pink Flamingos, and he goes 'I used to be the gardener but now I'm the caretaker because there's no-one here to look after things for Mitzie. Y'know Raymond's had seven strokes, so he's kinda not able to take care of things himself'. And I go 'Well, what are those acetates', and he goes 'Oh, they're from some radio show he used to do.' And they're like these big platters...
RH: Sure. Transcription discs.
MM: And he takes one one and puts it on this turntable which looks like it could have come out of a jukebox cos it was like really big, primitive-looking, thing, and he drops the arm down, and while he's walking over he steps on one of the acetates and breaks it. And I go 'You just broke one of the...' and he goes, 'There's hundreds of 'em here'.
RH: Oh my God.
MM: That was his take on the whole thing. And he starts playing this acetate of an old performance of a radio show and then you hear the music playing and you hear whatever's going on and we're like 'The acetate is coming off of the record. You shouldn't be playing it on that turntable'. And he's thinking 'What's with these people, they're crazy' and, we're walking round the place and we're in shock just seeing all this history. Just one man's intellectual archives all in total dishevelled condition with a wife who really didn't know anything about what his career was prior to 1973, in charge of things at this point. And I could see like, this is how it could be for me, all my shit in this green round building and all the windows poked out - the graffiti artists will come in and some bauble will catch their eye and they'll steal it and it was part of something, and nothing works any more, and Bob Casale was my caretaker for archiving so they'll open up the files and see 1M1 seventy times, each representing a different movie, but no title of what the cue was. And so um, Irwin was looking for stuff to make another record outa and said 'Well if you see anything, let me know', and I said 'Don't you think all this stuff should be in one place safe, rather than just picking through it? Don't you think somebody should archive the whole thing?' And he was in agreement with that. And the University of Missouri was contacted, who had an excellent programme for archiving composers' intellectual properties, and they loaded everything up, because at first I thought, well, I'd better start transferring all these tapes onto digital, but then the first tape showed up and I thought 'I'm not the guy to do this. This really needs somebody who really knows what they're doing. They need proper archiving people to bake the tapes and archive them properly. So that was kind of my earliest interaction. I met him while he was still alive, but he was kind of gone by then. And I ended up inheriting... We couldn't get anybody. The Smithsonian, I called them up and he said 'Why don't you take the Electronium, it's the first instrument that wrote music. It's the first music-composing machine in history'. Raymond, even in one of his articles, bragged 'It never wrote the same song twice'. And their take on it was, they sent me this photo - he said, 'Let me just send you something' - so the guy sent me this photo and it was a picture that looked kind of like the last scene of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and he goes 'We have so many one of a kind historically important pieces of musical gear. We don't know what to do with this stuff, we don't know how to take care of it properly. It's just laying on top of itself in here. We don't need another thing.'
RH: Wasn't the Electronium, when you found it, wasn't it in a room where there was a hole in the roof with some stuff leaking on it?
MM: Oh yeah, the ceiling was sinking, but there was a window with all the glass broken out, in this room that was his studio, and that turntable that I was telling you about was right there, covered in, just like, dirt, blowing in from outside. And, the Electronium was right next to the window, kind of the back of it, was getting the full effect of... and at the time that I saw it, it was kind of a work in progress that piece of gear. He originally built it I think in 1958 and it looks like it, cos it looks like an old telephone operators' switchboard.
RH: Yeah, I've seen it, downstairs.
MM: But it was a work in progress. So through the years he kind of added things to it, like a small keyboard to it. In the original pictures you don't see that there's a drawer that he had later added on and it had a keyboard in it that you could pull out, like a two-octave keyboard, and play it...He added on some sort of tape machine, like a digital... It might have been an information recorder. I don't know what it was. He might have used it as an interface with a computer, cos the other thing that was there that wasn't there after he died, there was like a Radio Shack computer, I think it was a Tandy. It was like a little small, y'know like a, looked like the same shape as those early Macintosh computers - kinda small - and it had wires going from it into the Electronium. But he was not in any condition to turn it on, and I don't even know if it could have been turned on at that point, cos everything was so dirty in that room. And then we left that meeting stunned and came to a consensus that somebody needs to archive his stuff properly, there shouldn't be me, and if I found something, sending it to him. It should be someone professional. I came over before it got sent off to Missouri - the Electronium was all boxed up and everything was taken apart. So, strangely enough, today, someone who had contacted me a couple of years ago about it - like, some crazy fan electronics guy - he came over again today and asked if he could work on the Electronium. So I said, 'Well I don't know if you know what you're talking about,' and he said 'Yeah, I've been here before, you know that, I took pictures in the back side and if I just take one of the circuit boards I can see if I can get it up and running again'.
RH: Weren't Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil working on it at one point?
MM: They were curious about it but they were into their own thing. They had TONTO in storage, and I said 'Why don't we get the Electronium out of storage and put TONTO on it?' No, I think they were actually here first, I can't remember.
RH: TONTO's still downstairs isn't it? [The basement of Mutato Muzika contains Mothersbaugh's collection of vintage synths.]
MM: TONTO was there for two or three years, and, a lot of people came over and had some fun playing with it, and Malcolm and Margouleff forgot about whatever battle they had twenty years before that and kind of made up and put it together and got it running and it was beautiful-sounding. Great piece of gear. A lot of people came by - I think Trent Reznor came by once - a lot of people came by and they made up a sound on it and recorded something and took it back to their studio, and a lot of people tried to use it on their recordings, and pretty much all ended up taking away the same piece of information. That electronics was a lot more difficult in the pioneering days, that oscillators drifted and that was a pain in the ass - that was kind of what most people took away from their experience. It stayed there for a couple of years and one day I got a call from Malcolm, he says 'Mark, I'm going to come and move TONTO out for a couple of weeks'. And I say, 'Oh Ok, it's yours.' And he came over with a group of guys and they drove off to Woodstock, New York and apparently him and Bob Margouleff had gotten in a fight again.
RH: So that was the end of that.
MM: That was the end of it. And I hadn't heard anything about it for a couple of years or so, till he called me up from Woodstock and wanted to sell it to me, and I was like 'Well, how much do you want for it?' and he goes 'Well, how much will you pay me for it?' and I said 'Well, how much do you want for it? You can tell me' and he goes, 'No, how much do you want to pay for it? And you can fly me to LA and I'll set it all up for you and spend two weeks getting it all back in perfect condition for you'. And I don't know, just something about it was weird, because I knew Bob Margouleff better than I knew him...
RH: Knew Malcolm Cecil?
MM: Yeah, I knew Margouleff more than I knew Malcolm, and I just thought, well, I didn't want to get in the middle of anything. Him selling me TONTO seemed like a weird thing, so...
RH: Now, back to Raymond Scott for a moment, it's always been curious to me. It's one of those American genius stories, like failed genius stories, kind of like Orson Welles or Nikola Tesla, where one moment they've got the keys to the candy shop, the whole world in their hands, at the peak of their powers and firing on all cylinders and they're doing all this stuff and it's all amazing, and then suddenly, and you never really know why, they're in dramatically reduced circumstances and they don't, they're obviously still smart people, but it's like their power's been taken away and they don't seem able to do anything any more and his story seems very much like that and I don't really know why.
MM: Yeah. I don't know his total story either but I get the feeling that the trajectory was, he came into Hollywood in the '30s and he was kind of like the Frank Zappa of the time, y'know, and he was charming and he'd be the band y'know like in the Bob Hope Road To Morocco film, there'd be a band with Indian snake charmer head turbans on, sitting cross-legged in diapers, or however they were dressed I can't remember exactly but his band would be playing some odd, middle-eastern song that was probably as much influenced by Hollywood as it was by middle-eastern music... He got all those cool gigs like that and stuff. And I thinking when he got into the electronics thing, y'know, that regiment in Hollywood kind of went their way and he wasn't the flavour du jour any more and he became more, this is what I think, I think he became more and more obsessed with things like the Clavinova and the Electronium and he saw all this potential in electronic music, and he applied it somewhat, you know, like Soothing Music For Babies, I mean that's phenomenal, that's probably the greatest thing that he did on the Electronium but that's such a great thing to have put out. He really deserves to be a pioneer of electronic music because of that, so he did have a second career, but that wasn't as popular as being in the backing band for Bing Crosby and Bob Hope and that kind of thing, and he was connected to that whole really super commercial pop end...
RH: And that music like Powerhouse that gets licensed...
MM: And then, yeah, he wrote all that music but he wrote it prior to the music being copyrightable. It wasn't till 1954 that they passed a law that said you could now copyright cartoon music. It wasn't deemed copyrightable. So that was why everyone thought 'Oh, well, we'll just appropriate his music and turn it into Looney Tune music' like ten years later, after he had written it.
RH: Uh-huh. Let's hit another one here.
MM: Am I giving you correct information?
RH: Yeah, it's all good.
MM: I think I'm giving you correct information.
• • •
JEAN DUBUFFET L'Eau from Experiences Musicales
MM: They threatened to get musical there for a second. They'll have that swept up soon...[sounds of water pouring] Oh, they're going to wash it down. This could be the soundtrack to your brain on drugs...I can't say for sure there's real musical instruments in that.
RH: There are...
MM: Some sort of a [indistinct]... Is there a surprise at the end?
RH: No. It just ends.
MM: That was the original In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida drum solo in the middle...
RH: That was Jean Dubuffet, the sculptor/painter guy who does the squiggly stuff, the squiggly line stuff. He did this series, I think they were like little ten-inch records that were - what were they called? - Experiences Musicales, something like that, and he was doing his own multi-track recording using loads of tape recorders that weren't synched or anything, played back together...
MM: Sounded kind of like a Bucket Brigade type sound, like a piddlebiddluh, I love that sound...
RH: Yeah, and he was a... He'd mash paper bags, he'd scrape violins, and he'd do things with his shoes, he'd do all these different things. Musical instruments were used, he used a number of them, but he wasn't trained on any of them - then he'd actually edit with the pause button and things, kind of doing these mixdowns on two tape recorders at once.
MM: What year would this be?
RH: Late '40s and '50s I think
MM: Oh, so this was early.
RH: Yeah. But he was known as a visual artist. As a painter, a sculptor, and on of his big sculptures is down on Wall Street, one of the Big Plazas, so he was kind of a... you'd recognise the squiggly line of it immediately, it was like a real signature thing with him and this guy, Ilhan Miramoglu, the Hungarian electronic artist who had this Finnadar label, one of those things you had to write off to New Music distributors to get in the '70s, he published the greatest hits of Jean Dubuffet's stuff on one album for Finnadar and that was how people got to hear, could find out about it... So that was a piece called "The Water", or "L'Eau" in French.
MM: Now, I think I would have a much greater tolerance to his pieces than, say, my wife for instance. But...
RH: Your wife likes Sammy Davis Jr.
MM: Oh, I do too sometimes.
RH: Er, me too, I'm just saying...
MM: Her taste doesn't extend into the atonal. But I used to like to er, make my own versions when I was younger. I think everyone kind of played around with deconstructing music cos it's, just even, what it means to do that, culturally, even capitalistically. Just the idea of deconstructing all this shit that they put on the radio for you is kind of, feels good. I like that. On the right day I could put that on and listen to it.
RH: Ok. Let's listen to the next one.
• • •
PETE "MAD DAD" MYERS I Love A Practical Joke from Wavy Gravy! Atom Smashin' Zoomeratin' Mello Jello Radio Broadcasts
MM: Oh fuck! That's worth the price of admission right there. See, that's what I'm saying. What happened to lyrics like that? People writing about dippy...
RH: ...Dancefloors, stuff like that.
MM: Who is that? That's amazing.
RH: That's Mad Daddy. That's Mad Daddy Myers from Cleveland radio.
MM: Mad Daddy Myers from Cleveland radio, I don't even, that doesn't even...
RH: He's that crazy rhyming DJ guy.
MM: I don't know him!
RH: Oh, I thought you would. He's like, what Ghoulardi was to late night movies,
Mad Daddy was to Cleveland Radio.
MM: Yeah but when?
RH: Right around the late '50s, 1960, '59, early '60s.
MM: Shit, in that time period I had a crystal radio I had made. And all I could ever get in the evening was Katherine Kuhlman, who scared me, so...
RH: Well, he was the guy who, when he was on, the Cleveland police said the crime rate went down cos all the DJs were at home listening to Mad Daddy. And everything he said rhymed, and he would go a mile a minute and he always spoke in rhyming couplets, and had all these crazy sound effects and stuff and he really was like a... and that was his one single that he put out I Love A Practical Joke.
MM: Man, what a claim to fame!
RH: There's a whole page about him on my website actually.
MM: Whatever happened to him?
RH: Well, he got, he switched stations in Cleveland. He went from WHK to something else, then he got snapped up by WINS in New York and he went down to New York and did his show the way he usually did it with all the sound effects and all this crazy stuff, rhyming like crazy, and I think they got him to do it one day or two days, and said to him 'No, you're going to be a real DJ now', and he wound up shooting himself.
MM: Oh shit. Well, he does love a good practical joke. Wow. Cos that's so heavy. I mean, that's actually on a vinyl?
MM: Is there something on the other side?
RH: I don't know. I only ever got a recording from somebody.
MM: Man. That's incredible. You know nobody liked it back then, you know it scared the shit out of people cos that was really intense. I don't know what to say.
RH: Oh ok. I thought you might have encountered Mad Daddy's stuff before.
MM: I wish I would have.
RH: Cos like Michael Weldon from Psychotronic magazine he would tell me about hearing it, and I would go to my uncle's house in Columbus, Ohio back then, and I actually heard Mad Daddy on the radio back then...
MM: Wow. I mean I'm totally sold on Mad Daddy.
RH: Yeah... That's the only single he did. But I have air checks of him that you can download from my website that are just as amazing.
MM: Makes you wanna know what's on the other side of that single. It really came out...
RH: I don't know. I just know that that was his single...
MM: Wow, that's an incredible story. Him and Melvin.
RH: Ok. So let's go to the next one. I think you'll know this one.
• • •
CHARLES MANSON Mechanical Man from LIE - The Love And Terror Cult
MM: Is that Charles Manson? Is this going to come out as a CD?
RH: It has.
MM: No, I mean this whole thing, your compilation?
RH: No, it's yours at the end of [the interview].
MM: Oh man. You should get them to put it out. Don't they put it out with the magazine?
RH: No they just print the title of the songs.
MM: Oh shit, they should put this out as a CD, this would be an immensely interesting CD.
RH: Oh, well, but, anyhow, as Don Pardo would say, it's you're lovely parting gift for having played the game, you get to keep the CD.
MM: Yeah you know, of course Charles Manson would figure in the early Devo stuff.
RH: On a philosophical level?
MM: Well, on our clues about what's wrong with the world, and how you deal with it. Um, nah, I feel like taking all that back, we'll start over on that one. Um, I think our Mechanical Man, there probably wouldn't have been a song called Mechanical Man if he hadn't of done it first. But that said, it was just kind of a touch point. There was, we had some, we were always kind of obsessed with the darker side of pop culture you know. The Kennedy assassination and the fact they blamed that poor misguided soul that found himself up in the top of the book depository, wrongly accused. Poor guy. But, I don't know how to... If I was on one cylinder before I'm on half a cylinder now.
RH: I remember coming over here one time and you had a snow globe where you could put your family member picture in there, and there was Charlie's face in the back of the snow globe. And I thought about that for a long time and thought, 'You know, I bet Charlie has something to do with Devo, I bet there's something...' I guess it's that fascination with the dark side, that kind of amok culture.
MM: Well, you know, we were just concerned citizens in the... yeah, we were a part of the amok culture as much as anybody else at the time. In Akron, Ohio it was kind of like being in a cultural wasteland, we were right there at ground zero for May 4,  at Kent State, so there were all those kind of strange defining moments. They were interesting to us, the crazy Manson shit, and of all things he would pick a Beatles song to obsess over.
RH: And Neil Young kept on trying to get [Warner Bros. Records] Mo Ostin to sign him.
MM: Yeah. That's kind of great right there.
RH: Neil bought him a motorcycle. Dennis Wilson got all the shit for knowing him but Neil bought him a motorcycle. No one really noticed that too much.
MM: Neil doesn't bring that up too often does he?
RH: It has come up, but not that often, right. So um, well, I thought I'd just throw that in there to see what kind of memories Charlie brought up.