Friday, April 6, 2007


Whip It

Through Being Cool

Devo is an American rock group formed in Akron, Ohio in 1972. They are best known for their 1980 hit "Whip It", which made it to #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Their style has been variously classified as punk, art rock and post-punk, but they are most often remembered for their late 1970s and early 1980s New Wave music which, along with others (such as Gary Numan, Oingo Boingo, and The B-52's) ushered in the synth pop sound of the 1980s.

Devo were pioneers of the music video, creating many memorable clips that were popular in the early days of MTV.

The name "Devo" comes from the concept of Devolution (also referred to by the band as "de-evolution") which means the evolution of man into "primitive" forms. This idea was developed as a joke by Kent State University art students Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis as early as the late 1960s. Casale and Lewis created a number of art pieces in the vein of Devolution. At this time, Casale had also performed with the local band 15-60-75. They met Mark Mothersbaugh around 1970, who introduced them to the pamphlet Jocko Homo Heavenbound, which would later inspire the song "Jocko Homo".

The pivotal moment for the formation of Devo was the Kent State shootings of May 4 1970. Casale knew two of the murdered students, and even saw one student, Allison Krause, with exit wounds from the M1 Garand rifle. At this moment, Casale claims he changed the idea of Devolution into a serious concept.

The first form of Devo was the "Sextet Devo" which performed at the 1973 Kent State performing arts festival. It included Casale, Lewis and Mothersbaugh, as well as Gerald's brother Bob Casale on guitar, and friends Rod Reisman and Fred Weber on drums and vocals, respectively. This performance was filmed and a part was included on the home video The Complete Truth About De-evolution. This lineup only performed once. Devo returned to perform in the Student Governance Center (featured prominently in the film) at the 1974 Creative Arts Festival with a line-up including the Casale brothers, Bob Lewis, Mark Mothersbaugh, and Jim Mothersbaugh on drums.

Devo later formed as a quartet focusing around Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale. They recruited Mark's brothers Bob Mothersbaugh and Jim Mothersbaugh. Bob played electric guitar, and Jim provided percussion using a set of homemade electronic drums. This lineup of Devo lasted until 1976 when Jim left the band. The lineup was occasionally fluid, and Bob Lewis would sometimes play guitar during this period. In concert, Devo would often perform in the guise of theatrical characters, such as Booji Boy, and The Chinaman. Live concerts from this period were often confrontational, and would remain so until 1977. A recording of an early Devo performance from 1975 with the quartet lineup appears on DEVO Live: The Mongoloid Years, ending with the promoters unplugging Devo's equipment.

Following Jim Motherbaugh's departure, Bob Mothersbaugh found a new drummer in Alan Myers, who played a conventional, acoustic drum set with mechanical precision. Casale re-recruited his brother Bob Casale, and the popular line-up of Devo was formed. It would endure for nearly ten years.

In the mid-'70s, Devo recorded a series of songs, much slower and more ethereal than the band's typical sound, at Briarwood Studio on High Street, a small recording studio run by Phil Gallo and Dave Bennet from the band Armentrout. Gallo and Bennet had a Tascam 80-8 8-track recording deck. The recordings were heavily influenced by Phil Gallo, the engineer, who was a respected musician in his own right. Even though this material was very "artistic", it wasn't the sound that Mark Mothersbaugh was looking for. Remaining friends with Gallo and Bennett, Mothersbaugh stopped recording at Briarwood.

Devo, or at least some members, including Mark Mothersbaugh, also recorded at the house of Rick Dailey (of the band Sniper), who also had an 80-8. Mothersbaugh recorded a song entitled "Itchy, Itchy Goo" that sounded very Devo-like with Dailey performing a cello solo.

Devo's big break came in 1976 when their short film The Truth About De-Evolution won a prize at the Ann Arbor Film Festival; it was then seen by David Bowie and Iggy Pop, who championed them and enabled Devo to secure a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records. By this time Alan Myers had replaced Jim Mothersbaugh as drummer. After Bowie backed out due to previous commitments, their first album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! was produced by Brian Eno and featured a radical cover of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and the controversially titled "Mongoloid".

The band followed up with Duty Now for the Future in 1979. During this period, Lewis successfully sued the band for theft of intellectual property. Devo gained a new level of visibility with 1980s Freedom of Choice, which included their best-known hit and above video, "Whip It", a danceable song whose video was played frequently on MTV.

Although they started out with a mixture of traditional rock instruments and electronic effects, during the early 1980s Devo adopted mostly or entirely synthetic instrumentation, becoming one of the first American acts to perform on stage using only synthesizers (except for Bob #1 on guitar); they were also one of the first groups in the world to regularly use radio microphones and microphone headsets on stage.

Devo actively embraced the Church of the SubGenius. In concert, Devo sometimes performed as their own opening act, pretending to be a Christian soft-rock group called "Dove (the Band of Love)". They appeared as "Dove" in the 1980 televangelism spoof Pray TV. They also recorded music, later released on the CD E-Z Listening Disc (1987), with alleged Muzak versions of their own songs to play before their concerts. In 1982, they appeared in the Neil Young film Human Highway.

During the 1980s, Devo produced the albums New Traditionalists (1981), Oh, No! It's Devo (1982), Shout (1984), to diminishing commercial returns and critical success, though they managed to be a successful live band during this time. Following the commercial failure of Shout, Warner Bros. dropped Devo from their label. Shortly after, claiming to feel creatively uninspired, Alan Myers left the band. Devo went on hiatus for two years.

During the interim, Mark Mothersbaugh began composing music for the TV show Pee-Wee's Playhouse, and released an elaborately packaged solo cassette, Musik for Insomniaks, which was later expanded and released as two CDs in 1988.

In 1987, Devo reformed with new drummer David Kendrick. Their first project was a soundtrack for the flop horror film Slaughterhouse Rock, starring Toni Basil. Devo has previously collaborated with Basil on her 1982 album Word of Mouth, and she had been in a relationship with Gerald Casale. The band released Total Devo in 1988 on Enigma Records. This album included two songs used in the Slaughterhouse Rock soundtrack. The song "Baby Doll" was used in the film Tapeheads, and was credited to (and shown in a music video by) a fictitious Swedish techno band.

Devo followed this up with a world tour, and released the live album Now It Can Be Told: DEVO at the Palace. However, Total Devo was not a commercial success, and received poor critical reviews.

1990 saw the release of Smooth Noodle Maps, which would be the last Devo album. It, too, was not a commercial success. Devo launched a European concert tour, but poor ticket sales caused it to be ended early. The band had a falling out soon after, though played one show in 1991 before breaking up. Posthumously, two albums of demo recordings, the Hardcore Devo series were released on Rykodisc, as well as an album of early live recordings, DEVO Live: The Mongoloid Years.

Mark Mothersbaugh started Mutato Muzika, a commercial music production studio, taking with him Bob Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale. The former works as a composer, and the latter as a recording engineer. David Kendrick also worked for Mutato for a short period of time. Mark has gained considerable success in writing and producing music for television programs (starting with Pee Wee's Playhouse and perhaps most famously with Rugrats), video games, cartoons, and movies (notably working alongside director Wes Anderson).

In 1995, Devo reappeared with a new recording of Girl U Want on the soundtrack to the movie Tank Girl. In 1996, Devo performed a reunion concert at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The band performed on part of the 1996 Lollapalooza tour in the rotating Mystery Spot, with a setlist largely composed of material from their heyday between 1978 and 1982. Also in 1996, Devo, perhaps inspired by The Residents, also released a multimedia CD-ROM adventure game, The Adventures of the Smart Patrol with Inscape. The game was not a success, but the Lollapalooza tour was received well enough to allow Devo to return in 1997 as a headliner.

Though Devo has not released a new album, officially, the band has recorded a number of songs for various films since their reunion, including a cover of the Nine Inch Nails hit, Head Like a Hole for the film Supercop. In 2001, members of Devo formed the surf band The Wipeouters, describing it as a reunion of the first garage band they started while in their early teens. Devo also has used their music in advertising. Recently Devo recorded a new version of "Whip It" to be used in Swiffer television commercials, a decision they have said they regret.

Style and influence
Devo is probably as well known for their image as for their music, donning uniforms that mocked industrial culture and pop consumerism, such as the yellow chemical-protection suits during the early Q: Are We Not Men? period, and famously worn on their now-legendary Saturday Night Live appearance, which first aired on October 14 1978. The band also wore matching JFK-esque plastic pompadours (marketed for sale as "The New Traditionalist Pomp"), masks and the signature red "flower pot" hats (marketed as "Energy Domes") for Freedom of Choice—which were intended (according to the band) to channel their sexual energy into their voices.

Line up
Sextet Devo (1973)
Gerald Casale - Bass Guitar
Bob Lewis - Lead Guitar
Bob Casale - Rhythm Guitar
Mark Mothersbaugh - Minimoog and Mellotron
Fred Weber - Vocals
Rod Reisman - Drums
The Sextet Devo only performed once in 1973 at the Kent State Performing Arts festival
Gerald Casale ("Chinaman") - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Mark Mothersbaugh ("Booji Boy") - Synthesizers, Vocals
Bob Mothersbaugh ("The Clown") - Lead Guitar
Jim Mothersbaugh ("Jungle" Jim) - Electronic Percussion
Bob Lewis - Guitar ('74 KSU Creative Arts Festival and Pink Flamingos performances)

Classic line-up (1975-1985)
Gerald Casale - Bass Guitar, Bass Synthesizer, Vocals
Mark Mothersbaugh - Synthesizers, Guitar, Vocals
Bob Mothersbaugh ("Bob 1") - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Bob Casale ("Bob 2") - Rhythm Guitar, Synthesizers
Alan Myers - Drums, Electronic Percussion
Enigma Records line-up (1987-1991)
Gerald Casale - Bass Guitar, Bass Synthesizer, Vocals
Mark Mothersbaugh - Synthesizers, Vocals
Bob Mothersbaugh ("Bob 1") - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Bob Casale ("Bob 2") - Rhythm Guitar, Synthesizers
David Kendrick - Drums
Current line-up (1996-Today)
Gerald Casale - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Mark Mothersbaugh - Synthesizers, Vocals
Bob Mothersbaugh ("Bob 1") - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Bob Casale ("Bob 2") - Rhythm Guitar, Synthesizers
Josh Freese - Drums
David Kendrick performs with Devo when Josh Freese is unavailable, such as on the 2003 shows in Japan.

1976 - "Mongoloid" (Booji Boy Label)
1977 - "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (Booji Boy Label) (UK #41 1978)
1978 - "Jocko Homo" (UK #62)
1978 - "Be Stiff" (Stiff Records) (UK #71)
1978 - "Come Back Jonee" (UK #60)
1979 - "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprise"
1979 - "Secret Agent Man"
1979 - "Flimsy Wrap"
1980 - "Girl U Want"
1980 - "Whip It" (US Hot 100 #14, UK #51)
1980 - "Gates of Steel"
1980 - "Freedom of Choice"
1981 - "Through Being Cool"
1981 - "Working in a Coalmine" (US Hot 100 #43)
1981 - "Beautiful World" (Picture Disc)
1982 - "Jerkin' Back 'n' Forth"
1982 - "Peek-a-Boo!"
1983 - "That's Good" (Picture Disc)
1983 - "Theme from Doctor Detroit" (US Hot 100 #59, UK #98)
1984 - "Are You Experienced?"
1985 - "Here to Go"
1985 - "Shout"
1988 - "Disco Dancer" (US Dance #45)
1988 - "Baby Doll"
1990 - "Post Post-Modern Man" (US Modern Rock #7, US Dance #26)

External links
Club DEVO - Official website
DEVO on MySpace

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Devo are awesome. The band have just announced a Euro-Tour 2007. Full dates of the tour start June 16th in Barcelona. Check out all the dates including key dates in the UK via the following link . .

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