Ongoing History Daily: Getting subversive with Devo

From the day they were formed in 1974, Devo sought to subvert the norms of the music industry in whatever way they could. Even after the band stopped working regularly, its members refused to be normal. Take co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh who went on to run a production music company called Mutato Muzika which had Mothersbaugh composing music for more than 150 films, TV shows, and video games.

Eventually—and with some reluctance—he got into making TV commercials, too. One was for Hawaiian Punch. He didn’t really like the fact he was working for a sugar drink company, so he threw in some subliminal messages under all the music like “Sugar is bad for you.” He made other commercials with messages like “Question authority” and “Choose your mutations carefully.” Mothersbaugh got away with doing that for about 30 commercials before he was caught.

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