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This nOde last updated December 17th, 2004 and is permanently morphing...
(3 Ix (Jaguar) / 17 Mac - 94/260 - 18.104.22.168.14)
Devo's original inspiration came from Oscar Kiss Maerth's "The Beginning Was the End": an anthropoligical thesis which attributes the rise of man as an evolutionary accident caused by a species of sex-crazed, cannibalistic apes who developed tools to exploit each other sexually and feed on each others' brains. This metaphor is carried throughout Devo's work as an abstraction of modern society.
Devo actively embraced the Church Of The SubGenius in the early 1980s. In concert, Devo often performed as the opening band for themselves, pretending to be a christian soft-rock group called "Dove (the Band of Love)". They also recorded "E-Z Listening Muzak" versions of their own songs to play before their concerts. In 2001, members of Devo formed the surf band The Wipeouters, claiming that it was actually a reunion of the first gararge band they started while in their early teens.
As a backup band for others:
* Jermaine Jackson: Let Me Tickle Your Fancy (1982) (backup
on title song)
* Toni Basil: Word of Mouth (1983) (backup on covers of Devo's own Space Girls, Be Stiff and Pity You)
* David Byrne: Feelings (1997) (backup on Wicked Little Doll)
As The Wipeouters:
* P'Twaaang!!! 2001
Mark Mothersbaugh, some solo and soundtrack releases:
* Musik for Insomniaks, Volumes 1 and 2
* Joyeux Mutato, Christmas music
* The Royal Tenenbaums
* The Rugrats
* Mystery Men
Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh both attended art school at Kent State University at the outset of the 1970s. With friend Bob Lewis, who joined an early version of Devo and later became their manager, the theory of de-evolution was developed with the aid of a book entitled The Beginning Was the End: Knowledge Can Be Eaten, which held that mankind had evolved from mutant, brain-eating apes. The trio adapted the theory to fit their view of American society as a rigid, dichotomized instrument of repression which ensured that its members behaved like clones, marching through life with mechanical, assembly-line precision and no tolerance for ambiguity. The whole concept was treated as an elaborate joke until Casale witnessed the infamous National Guard killings of student protesters at the university; suddenly there seemed to be a legitimate point to be made. The first incarnation of Devo was formed in earnest in 1972, with Casale (bass), Mark Mothersbaugh (vocals), and Mark's brothers Bob (lead guitar) and Jim, who played homemade electronic drums. Jerry's brother Bob joined as an additional guitarist, and Jim left the band to be replaced by Alan Myers. The group honed its sound and approach for several years (a period chronicled on Rykodisc's Hardcore compilations of home recordings), releasing a few singles on its own Booji Boy label and inventing more bizarre concepts: Mothersbaugh dressed in a baby-faced mask as Booji Boy (pronounced "boogie boy"), a symbol of infantile regression; there were recurring images of the potato as a lowly vegetable without individuality; the band's costumes presented them as identical clones with processed hair; and all sorts of sonic experiments were performed on records, using real and homemade synthesizers as well as toys, space heaters, toasters, and other objects. Devo's big break came with its score for the short film The Truth About De-Evolution, which won a prize at the 1976 Ann Arbor Film Festival; when the film was seen by David Bowie and Iggy Pop, they were impressed enough to secure the group a contract with Warner Bros.
Vermont Review interview with Jerry Casale - August 5, 2003
VR: Going back to your early days. You were present at the Kent State shootings in 1970. How did that day affect you?
JC: Whatever I would say, would probably not all touch upon the significance or gravity of the situation at this point of time? It may sound trite or glib. All I can tell you is that it completely and utterly changed my life. I was a white hippie boy and than I saw exit wounds from M1 rifles out of the backs of two people I knew. Two of the four people who were killed, Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause, were my friends. We were all running our asses off from these motherfuckers. It was total utter bullshit. Live ammunition and gasmasks – none of us knew, none of us could have imagined. They shot into a crowd that was running. I sopped being a hippie and I started to develop the idea of devolution. I got real, real pissed off.
VR: You said that the Kent State shooting sort of served as a catalyst for your theory of Devolution, which spawned Devo.
JC: Absolutely. Until then I was a hippie. I thought that the world is essentially good. If people were evil, there was justice and that the law mattered. All of those silly naïve things. I saw the depths of the horrors and lies and the evil. In the paper that evening, the Akron Beacon Journal, said that students were running around armed and that officers had been hurt. So deputy sheriffs went out and deputized citizens. They drove around with shotguns and there was martial law for ten days. 7 PM curfew. It was open season on the students. We lived in fear. Helicopters surrounding the city with hourly rotating runs out to the West Side and back downtown. All first amendment rights are suspended at the instance when the governor gives the order. All of the class action suits by the parents of the slain students were all dismissed out of court because once the governor announced martial law, they had no right to assemble.
VR: How does the potato fit into your thoughts of devolution?
JC: The potato is a staple that keeps us alive. It is totally unglamorous and underrated. It is also a conductor of electricity. You know that they teach you in science class how to make potatoes transmitters and potato radio receivers. They have all eyes around.
VR: So your theory of devolution does not suggest that we are all going to devolve into potatoes?
JC: No, the potato is symbol of our humble beginnings.
Devo sell out to animal cruelty experts Proctor & Gamble - bummer...
_Whip It_, the 1980 song that was the anthem of the band Devo's rage against a society dehumanized by industry and commercialism, is now the theme of a Procter & Gamble Co. TV campaign for the Swiffer line of home-cleaning products. In a new version of the tune, Devo lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh substitutes the lyrics "Swiffer's good" for the "Whip it good" of the original...Devo agreed to perform the altered version for Swiffer advertisements because, Mr. Mothersbaugh said, "it was so absurd. We like messing with the boundaries between art and commerce."
video (vhs/ntsc) - _Devo: The Men Who Make The Music_ (1979)
video - _We're All Devo_ on Rhino (1983)
features Timothy Leary as himself
first usenet posting mentioning Devo:
Date: 05/15/81 11:11:39
Subject: The SubGenius Foundation
The SubGenius Foundation
Dallas TX, 75214
TSGF is a cult, but they
won't hassle you. They are devo-esque, and extremely humorous.
Founded by J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, the creed of the SubGenius is: The SubGenius
must have SLACK. Send a buck (and your address, of course) and they'll
send you some clever literature.