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Mark Mothersbaugh explains how Captain Beefheart inspired Devo


Mark Mothersbaugh, like so many musicians creating alternative sounds, was influenced by the great Captain Beefheart and his avant-garde, experimental, genre-melding music.

Mothersbaugh, the co-founder, lead singer and keyboardist of the new wave band Devo, is no stranger to the outsider pop world himself so it should come as little surprise that Beefheart has infiltrated his creative thinking.

While appearing as a Guest DJ as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project alongside Eric J. Lawrence, Mothersbaugh was asked to pick five tracks to play on the show and, if possible, explain his choices. Typically, the Devo frontman picks out an eclectic list of artists for differing reasons and, when he turned his attentions to Beefheart, he reminisced about the early formative years of his band.

“I’m trying to remember the year,” Mothersbaugh begins while introducing the Beefheart track. “Well, I was still at my parents’ house, I know that. I hadn’t figured out how to move out yet,” he added. “But I got this album, it was awesome. And I thought after this album came out that all other albums would be meaningless and that the whole course of music was changing overnight because of this album. It was called Trout Mask Replica and the artist was named Captain Beefheart.”

Mothersbaugh continued: “It didn’t change everything in music, but a lot of people have cited that album as being inspirational to them. But I picked a song off that record called ‘The Blimp’ because when Devo started recording, the first song we did that was a cover was, ‘Secret Agent Man’, and we put it in a little film that we had made. And at the beginning of the song, Booji Boy, who is my alter ego, he plays a synth solo that he ends with a homage to ‘The Blimp’. He quotes the melody to it. So I’ve always loved that song and it has a place in my heart that way.”

Stream the track, below.