Devo lead singer dishes on creating catchy 'Lego' song
Mark Mothersbaugh will go down in pop culture history as the flowerpot-hat-wearing lead singer of Devo, best known for "Whip It," but the 63-year-old singer has flourished in the last few years as a prolific composer for films and television shows including the irresistibly catchy "Lego movie." He also appears on "Yo Gabba Gabba," teaching kids how to draw and exhibits art work around the world. He spoke to FOX411 about his career.
FOX411: We cannot get that song "Everything is Awesome" (from “The Lego Movie”) out our heads.
Mark Mothersbaugh: (Laughs) I'm sorry about that. That was what it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be like mind control early in the film. It's totally irritating, this kind of mindless mantra to get people up and working. It's like the whip crack on their back, but then by the end of the movie it morphs into, instead of being just a mindless, go-to-work song it becomes about co-operation and people working together to do bigger things.
FOX411: Were you a fan of Legos?
Mothersbaugh: I'm so old...We had Lincoln Logs. The movie brought me deeply into the world of Lego and I realized how many of my friends-- especially in the film world-- there's a lot of film nerds who are big Lego fans. I only found that after I started the movie, and they started revealing the depths of their obsessions.
FOX411: Devo were such an artistic band.
Mothersbaugh: We actually thought we were going to have more of an integration of our visuals in a bigger way. There's an argument that Devo invented the modern rock video it could be true because we were making these short concept films about seven or eight years before MTV ever came out… MTV came and allowed everybody to hire someone to come and make a film for them. I still do art every day and I do a lot of gallery shows. I feel pretty balanced.
FOX411: Does your art inform your music or the other way around?
Mothersbaugh: For me there's not a difference between the two. It all comes from the same place for me whether it manifests itself in goofy Devo stage movements or comes out as a song or a piece of score for Lego characters or if it's a sculpture or painting that goes into a museum in Mexico. It all comes from the same place.
FOX411: You've scored a lot of movies like "21 Jump Street" and "The Royal Tennenbaums."
Mothersbaugh: I found out early on in the ‘80s, a friend of mine, Paul Reubens had a TV show called "Pee-wee's Playhouse" and he said, “Would you write the music for my show?" So I found out, I would look at pictures and hear music in my head. I'm lucky in the sense that I can watch a movie with no music on it and I can hear what the music is going to be before I'm done watching the film. I'm visually driven. When I saw early tests of "Lego" with all these millions of blocks making ocean waves and explosions, it made me want to do a hybrid, electronic orchestral score so I spent some time experimenting with old and new electronic instruments.
FOX411: You went to Kent State. Were you there during the  shootings?
Mothersbaugh: Yeah as a matter of fact, Jerry in the band was standing about 50 feet away from one of the girls who got shot and killed. In a way, it kind of shaped our thoughts on how we wanted to do art, what we wanted to accomplish with our art. Because of that we decided what we were seeing was not evolution but de-evolution so we shortened it down to the word Devo.