Discovered deep within the Duran Duran vaults, TV Mania’s Bored With Prozac and The Internet? blends television samples and looping rhythm tracks to create a sonically sophisticated collection of songs that serve as the perfect soundtrack to the Facebook age.
Conceived in the mid-‘90s by Duran Duran’s keyboardist Nick Rhodes and guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, Bored with Prozac was culled from a collection of tunes recorded when the band were on hiatus from their day jobs. Using samples from such disparate sources as The Outer Limits and the British TV show Planet Fashion, TV Mania’s pastiche of cool beats and melodic hooks proved more prescient than its creators could anticipate at the time.
“It was innocently masquerading as an art rock project, but there was a deep concept behind it all,” explains Cuccurullo. “We were envisioning a world where a family would give up their day-to-day privacy and allow their existence to be televised to the masses, and this was two years before Truman showed and four years before Survivor. Now everyone is giving away their most intimate details online and on reality TV.”
Originally created for the Broadway stage as the music to a “bizarre TV soap opera,” the tracks tell the tale of Cathy and Ray (named from the cathode ray tube) and their two children Sassy and Snoop, a fame-hungry family who gives away their freedom to scientists in exchange for reality show fame. Depressed and obsessed, Cathy indulges in a diet of pharmaceutical pills, while her religious husband is plagued with nightmares and visions manifested in a game show hosted by the devil. Their video game-addicted hacker son and fame-hungry daughter are along for the ride, inspiring songs such as “Beautiful Clothes,” “I Wanna Make Films” and “People Know Your Name” in the process. The songs aligned fortuitously with the family’s story to become pivotal plot points to the family’s lives.
At the time, the Internet was in its infancy, as was the concept of pharmaceuticals as a solution to everyday problems. Reality TV existed in the form of MTV’s hit The Real World, but the concept of bored housewives, teenage moms or overly tanned denizens of the Jersey shore starring in their own series seemed the stuff of science fiction, as did ordinary citizens sharing their daily thoughts and passions via Twitter, Blogspot or Flickr.
“In 1996 the Internet was still in its infancy but I anticipated it was the start of a rather big phenomenon,” Rhodes explains. “I was fascinated by communication and how things were becoming more instant and this was decades before all the sites we have now to communicate in different ways. “
A few months after Rhodes and Cuccurullo were done recording Bored with Prozac, a little show called Big Brother hit the airwaves, and nothing was ever quite the same. “We looked at each other in absolute disbelief,” says Rhodes, “It was an idea that was in the ether at the time. We decided to lock it in the bottom drawer whilst we changed the story.”
As time went on, a fortuitous discovery of the original tapes proved songs such as the dreamy trip hop-tinged “Euphoria,” the guitar-grooved “Beautiful Clothes” and the exotically soundscaped “Grab the Sun” sounded as modern today as the time they were recorded.
Says Rhodes, “When I found my DAT tape of masters I thought ‘Wow, this sounds unbelievably contemporary.’ It’s literally like finding a painting and blowing the dust off of it. Times have certainly changed since we made the record, but the subject matter that inspired this album happens to be at the forefront of today’s world, so the songs have weathered the test of time in a strangely beautiful way.”
Bored With Prozac and The Internet?, with creative direction by Andrew Day and front cover illustration by Vania Zouravliov,is being released in a vinyl boxed and gatefold edition through The Vinyl Factory and digitally via The Orchard/Beatport on March 11, 2013. The boxed limited edition will include exclusive Polaroid photographs shot and signed by Nick Rhodes, screen-printed artwork, a personally authored note by Warren Cuccurullo, and an oversized glossy booklet featuring exclusive imagery. The Vinyl Factory collaborates with musicians and artists to create premium vinyl editions. In 2012 the label released records by artists including Florence + the Machine, Roxy Music, Massive Attack, David Byrne and Martin Creed.
In America, social scientists and anthropologists are searching for answers to why family life has degenerated so badly in recent times. After studying online national census forms, they randomly choose one family, from over a million volunteers, to be Test Group101.
The family are secretly transported and installed in an isolated, futuristic, intelligent designer home, where they have every modern convenience at their fingertips. There is no need to ever leave, according to all previously gathered data, as life inside the house is ideal. The family are monitored 24 hours a day, Big Brother style. They are allowed virtual friends, under controlled conditions, but must remain within the house, continuing to live their lives as if nothing has changed (in reality not much has). All food and supplies are ordered online; deliveries arrive hermetically sealed, and the family have absolutely no physical contact with the outside world, which is now considered the ultimate contemporary luxury. They also benefit from having a full virtual staff, who are generally extremely efficient, and cater to the family’s increasingly eccentric requests.
Most things in the house are operated by voice command, or can be activated via the internet. This usually runs smoothly, but if the system goes down chaos prevails in the house, as no one knows how to perform any of the simple tasks anymore. They do have computer access to the outside world, although news coverage and social networking are prohibited.
The dysfunctional family pretend to live out the dream life in front of the scientists, but the flaws are astounding and make compelling viewing. Although the GMRA (Genetic Modelling Research Association) had promised to keep all information entirely confidential, due to a phenomenal financial offer from a network, after seeing the results of the fi rst couple of days, they relinquish their former agreement and license the daily footage for TV and internet rights, completely unbeknownst to the family. The show attracts more viewers than any other in history; it is translated into 30 different languages and causes intense international debate.
Much of the discussion is about why the family would have allowed their lives to be put under the microscope (the producers decided not to inform the public that they did not have an agreement with the family or the rights to use the footage for anything other than research purposes). Others marvel at whether it may be possible to rehabilitate the family and return them to normal life after the ordeal is over.
The world watches as the situation in the house becomes increasingly unmanageable, but at a crucial point when things are reaching meltdown, the entire broadcast system crashes and all screens go blank. At this time, the mother is suffering an overdose incident, and the father is having an hallucinogenic episode, where he believes the family have all turned on him and he has no option but to submit to the Devil, who is the only one powerful enough to overcome their problems.
The daughter is dressed as a super sexy starlet; obliviously living out a melodramatic scene from a Hollywood movie; and the son is hacking into the scientist’s system to find out the truth about the results so far, in a desperate attempt to understand his family and himself…In an operatic crescendo the scientists enter the house in panic, fearing public outcry if anything bad happens to any of the family, and a massive lawsuit from the family themselves once they find out the truth about the broadcast.
The TV lawyers are first to arrive and approach each member of the family to tell them what a huge success they have become, brushing over all money and broadcast issues, asking them to sign waivers to fi nalize all paperwork and conclude their time in the house. The father suddenly realizes that people know who he is and in his deluded state, wanders out of the house to greet the adoring public…It is cold, flat and empty, but not in his imagination. The mother is thrilled that people have seen her suffering and rushes outside to beg for help and forgiveness. The daughter is elated that she may already be famous and prepares herself for her grand exit from the house and entry to the world of red carpets where she hopes to receive instant movie offers. The son is still in front of his computer, barricaded into his room and is watching the whole thing unfold live as the feed has been restored. He puts on his gaming gear and slowly walks outside, where he realizes that he is in the centre of a giant video game, he fi nds himself absolved from his isolated world and able to relate to people outside his room for the first time. The family all bond over their desire to be famous for being what they are.
A world designed with you in mind.