DEVO

"We're like the house band on the Titanic."

June 2010


Devo has had plenty to convey since Gerald Casale founded the group in Akron, Ohio, in 1973. The band was an extension of a multi-media exploration of the concept that mankind's progress had ceased, and the process of de-evolution had begun. Devo's early work caught the attention of such icons as Neil Young and David Bowie, and, with such hits as "Whip It" and "Girl U Want," and the accompanying, revolutionary music videos, the group became one of the defining American acts of the 1980s.

Devo's sound, style, and philosophy have been an influence on artists from Rage Against the Machine to Lady Gaga. Kurt Cobain once said, "Of all the bands who came from the underground and actually made it in the mainstream, Devo is the most challenging and subversive of all."

More than three decades after the release of their visionary debut, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo, and a full 20 years since their last studio album, Devo are back with the aptly titled Something for Everybody. The long rumoured and, in some quarters, wildly anticipated album (which was launched with a memorable performance in Vancouver at the Winter Olympics) features the band's classic line-up-Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh, Gerald and Bob Casale-joined by drummer Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails, Guns n' Roses).

dsoaudio.com's very own Devo expert Dave Brewer quizzed founding member Gerald (Jerry) Casale using the technology of the internet. The responses were brief but incisive...


DEVO promoFollowing the concert at the HMV Forum in London in May 2009, the band toured the US playing the albums "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!" and "Freedom of Choice" in their entirety on back-to back nights. How do men in their 50s and 60s have the energy to participate in such frenetic shows?

A: Did you think the energy domes were fake? No white powder was involved.

What did you learn from the tour?

A: People love rock n' roll church. They knew every chapter and verse and would have mutinied had we strayed from the order of the Canon.

What did performing at the Olympics mean to you? What do you think it meant for the Olympians and the spectators?

A: It was a pleasantly absurd anomaly. The crowd was our captive audience and they had not chosen to see us. They loved the show and the free blue energy domes. Spots converts for Devo!

You played a fundraising concert for the Obama campaign in October 2008. What motivated the band to play this show? Was this your first foray into national politics? What were the reactions did you receive (both positive and negative)?

A: Libertarians were shocked and thought we drank the corporate Kool Aid. It wasn't like that. We know that Obama is a song and dance man for the new world order but he's intelligent and has the ability to keep us from falling off the precipice after 8 devastating years of the Bush Junta. McCain would have finished us off. There was no choice except to help a bright black man get elected.

DEVO promoWhat were the motivations to record "Something for Everybody" so many years after the band's last record?

A: It was simply now or never. De-evolution is real, not a far fetched concept. We are back and as relevant as any band today. We're like the house band on the Titanic, playing your favorites while we all go down together.

You were the driving force behind the new album. What did you say and do to convince the other members of the band to participate?

A: I told them it was the final request from the first lieutenant of the Devolutionary Army before he hangs up his Spud Gun. I promised it would be a fitting way to go out fighting.

"Something For Everybody" was created using focus groups. Focus groups can provide valuable information to improve the products that make our lives better. How will the album make listeners lives better?

A: It's all Killer, no Filler and beginning to end designed to keep you dancing to the beat of devolution.

A number of songs on "Something for Everybody" evoke your older works. "Signal Ready" hints at "Speed Racer," the phrase "duty now" appears in "Human Rocket," the beginning of "Sumthin'" brings to mind "Whip It", spelling out D-E-V-O in "Step Up" reminds us of "Jocko Homo." Were these homages to your own past intentional or unconscious?

A: Name checking and pronouncements have always been central to the Devo lexicon. It was absolutely conscious as a device to help us to seamlessly take up where we left off 20 years ago.

DEVO promoMany of the lyrics use well-known phrases (there's no place like home, New World Order, it's not over 'til the fat lady sings) or internet memes (don't tase me bro). What is Devo trying to say by using such familiar words?

A: We love to re-contextualize familiar words and phases ubiquitous to western pop culture. It's the sonic version of what Jeff Koons does so well.

"Sumthin'" could interpreted as being about Bush or about Obama. From which perspective was it written?

A: It's clearly an amalgam of all western "leaders" who are in way over their heads and quite powerless in the face of the true people who pull the strings and the forces that shape world history. The Hocus Pocus of selling hope.

Has Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking affected the devolution of the human race? Do you see them as positive or negative overall?

A: They are neutral tools that are allowing people to act out in real time. They allow every tendency maximum expression. Since most people seem to romanticize being stupid, stupid is now in exponential supply.

Is there a cover of a Devo song that you like best?

A: I actually never head one I liked.

Where do you think you and the rest of the band would be if Devo had never existed? How would the world be different?

A: There would be no bridge between evolution and creationism. what Steven Colbert described as "Intellingent Decline". We might still be working at the Rubber Museum.

DEVO promoAre there are a lot of people who listen to your music but who don't hear the message?

A: Fortunately, yes. Someone asked Bob Dylan if he thought people understood "Like A Rolling Stone". He said if they did it would never have been a hit.

What current music is in heavy rotation at the headquarters of Devo, Inc.?

A: LCD Sound System and Hot Chip.

Devo is often cited as an influence by other artists. What artists were influences on Devo? Not just musicians, also people working in visual art, video, & film, and other mediums.

A: I really don't have time here to dig into this. It's really a book, no joke.

The core of the band is from Ohio. Have you seen any signs of cultural evolution or devolution in your recent visits there, and does that give you any hope for the rest of the world?

A: You're asking the wrong person about hope. All I see is a Fountain of Filth courtesy of BP and all the hundreds of guilty parties that enable them.

In my mind the central message of Devo can be summarized in a from a Talking Heads song: "Things fall apart, it's scientific." Do you agree?

A: Certainly that cannot be argued with. Entropy is King. Human nature is fatally flawed.

What do you see as the benefits and negative impacts in the shift from analog media to digital? How does that shift impact the work of Devo?

A: Everything got dinkier. Like Gloria Swanson says in Sunset Boulevard, the movies didn't get bigger, the stars got smaller.

The US and most of the western world have become a de facto corporatacracy. Large corporations influence laws to make themselves less accountable and more profitable, often at the expense of the rights and earnings of average citizens. However, most of us interact with corporations on a daily basis by using products and services they offer; many people also work for them. How do you personally reconcile that contradiction?

A: You are correct sir, and I cannot reconcile it. Watch Mike Judge's film, Ideocracy. It's the film Devo should have made and we include ourselves in the equation.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one piece Devo merchandise, which would be the most useful?

A: Certainly the Energy Dome for food gathering, head protection, sand sculpture and playtime!

Devo's new album "Something For Everybody" is released by Warner Bros. Records


See also:

Official Devo website: http://www.clubdevo.com
Official Devo MySpace Page:
http://www.myspace.com/devo


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