Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh has created the music for a new limited edition Booji Boy Throbblehead commercial, premiering exclusively on Rolling Stone. For those unfamiliar with Devo lore, the infantile Booji Boy (pronounced Boogie Boy) character has been a part of the group’s movies and live shows since their earliest days in Akron, Ohio. Only 1,000 Throbbleheads are being manufactured, retailing for $29.95 each. They come out June 29th, but you can pre-order one now.
The surreal commercial shows Booji Boy mending a fence, working in an archaic factory and sitting at a desk in a sport coat and tie. Images of nature, space and pollution are mashed up against each other, fitting with Devo’s philosophy that man is de-evolving. The whole thing is made to look like it was created on a VHS tape and has the feel of a surreal TV ad from the early 1980s, around the time that Devo peaked in popularity.
“Every religion needs a reliable icon to help guide its flock through the stormy days, and devolution is no exception!,” Mothersbaugh tells Rolling Stone. “Attach this Booji Boy fetish item to your dashboard, your bedpost, your baby sister, your tumor or your grand-daddy! Consider him your lightning rod, your invisible shield, your prophylactic safety zone, your own special fourth dimension portal, for Booji Boy is all this, and much much more!
“No need to fear nuclear destruction, with Booji looking after you and yours!” he added. “Defeat enemies and spies, pass exams, stools, stones, win at love, attract all three sexes, get out of jail free, learn how to dance. Because, we’re all DEVO!”
A Throbblehead is a fancier version of the classic bobblehead manufactured by Aggronautix. They offer 26 other rock Throbbleheads, including Mojo Nixon, J Mascis, Andrew W.K., Mike Watt and Mark Arm of Mudhoney.
In an unpublished 2010 interview with Rolling Stone, Mothersbaugh explained the origins of Booji Boy. “Back in time in Akron we couldn’t afford drugs and we hated to bowl and had no other recreation activities,” he said. “So we used to buy masks and create characters for full days at a time. The baby mask Booji Boy was one of the characters. Jerry [Casale] would be the all-knowing China Man. I’d be Booji Boy, the infantile spirit of de-evolution. And a crib was an easy prop since it came from the Salvation Army and it was easy to fold.”
The character appeared in their 1976 short film The Complete Truth About De-Evolution, their 1981 video for “Beautiful World” and Neil Young’s 1982 film Human Highway, where he serves as a sort of Greek Chorus commenting on the end of mankind. Devo concerts today always end with Mothersbaugh walking onstage as Booji Boy to sing “Beautiful World,” pausing midway through to deliver a surreal speech.
Devo were dealt a shocking blow in February of 2014 when guitarist Bob Casale died of sudden heart failure. The group carried on with Josh Hager taking his place, though they haven’t played since a two-date Chilean tour last December and their future plans are unclear.