Mark Mothersbaugh Explains How Tragedy Inspired Devo in Animated Clip

Kent State shootings helped usher in the age of "Devolution," artist says

"I was absolutely certain that music was invented just to torture me," Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh says in an animated video that details the band's beginnings. The video, co-created by Google Play and California Sunday magazine (via Vulture), finds the "Whip It" co-writer describing the incidents that unleashed his artistic side, the event that helped coined the term "devolution" and the iconic moment caused him to view music differently.

"I thought it was a terrible thing to waste your time learning an instrument, until, at 12 years old, we'd all watch Ed Sullivan while eating dinner," Mothersbaugh says. "One day, it's just a typical Ed Sullivan Show, and the Beatles came on. They played 'She Loves You,' I think, and 'I Want to Hold Your Hand.' And I just remembered, 'That's why I've spent my whole life learning how to play music – so I can do that.'"

Devo, the band, was born out of something that happened when Mothersbaugh and other founding members were students at Kent State University in Ohio. "When we first started Devo, Jerry [Casale, bassist] and Bob [Lewis, guitar] and I were artists who were working in a number of different medias. We were around for the shootings at Kent State, and it affected us," he explains in the clip. "We were thinking like, 'What are we observing?' We decided we weren't observing evolution; we were observing devolution so we decided to write music around that."

Later in the video, Mothersbaugh describes moving the band to Los Angeles and how having a hit in "Whip It" gave Devo complete artistic freedom but also the pressure to create another smash single.