Album Reviews

Interviews with band

  1. Devo

Overall Rating

Music Styles

Band Info

Founded: N/A
Ended: Active



  • No links currently

Everyone remembers Devo. The inverted red flower pots - or energy domes - the rubber-punk stage antics and of course the radio-friendly hits espousing views on mankind's dysfunctional regression or Devo-lution, sentiments that a generation on have proven to be frighteningly prophetic.

The Akron, Ohio blockheads' fifteen minutes of fame came largely on the back of 1980's Freedom of Choice album and its hit single Whip It, a robotic nu-wave anthem the band still enjoy performing. "We're fortunate because we didn't write sappy love songs or songs about pop culture," says ringleader Mark Mothersbaugh.

The legendary song, with its famous lyrical refrain 'when a problem comes along, you must whip it', was penned as a shape-up memo to then US President, Jimmy Carter, says Mothersbaugh.

"When we wrote the song we'd just come back from a tour to Europe and people were saying 'we like your President and what your country is about but he's got terrible foreign diplomacy'," he says. "So we were singing a song for him, a sort of you-can-do-it, quit-being-a-wimp kind of song. A don't-be-confused, don't-be-hesitant, do-the-right-thing song. That's really what it was about."

An epochal era for original nu-wavers, the early 80s "was a good time in our career," agrees Mothersbaugh "because we hadn't really made any big mistakes other than signing record deals with Richard Branson and Warner Brothers - they were our only mistakes."

Despite stratospheric album sales, Devo's collective distaste for corporate greed saw them battle major labels throughout their career. The band is now rumoured to be suing McDonalds for copyright infringement.

"It's the way the whole machinery was set up," says Mothersbaugh. "We're interested in putting out another record now just to celebrate the death of record companies, ha, like, it's safe to come out and do another record now!

"In five or ten years from now, we'll tell stories about how back in the 70s and 80s a band would get 8% of the money from the records they sold and the record company would keep 92%. On top of that they would make the artist pay - out of his 8% - for the only expensive thing that they made, which was a video.

"Now it's the opposite; you sign with an internet entity and they take only 10% and help market your record for you. Anybody that's now lamenting the death of record companies didn't live through it, that's all I can say."

Hugely popularly for their jump-suited blend of kitsch and synth-leavened punk, Devo was originally formed by Mothersbaugh and fellow Kent State University visual arts student Gerry Casale as a social conscience response to the 1970 shooting deaths of anti-Vietnam war protestors on their campus.

"Gerry was standing about 15 feet away from one of the girls who got killed," reveals Mothersbaugh. "We had been collaborating on visual arts projects but once they closed our school we started writing music together. We were just trying to figure out the insanity we were observing on the planet and we came to the conclusion that we were observing not evolution but de-evolution. And that's kind of where our music started.

"We just saw ourselves as musical reporters reporting the good news of things falling apart, talking about the big issues about evolution, about people needing to co-operate and needing to use their heads to solve the problems you get when humans start to overrun their planet like some sort of alien virus."

The original You Tubers, Devo filmed in B&W some of their very first experimental recordings in the 70s.

"We had a seen a popular science magazine at the time that said LASER DISCS - EVERYONE WILL HAVE THEM BY NEXT YEAR! And they were these discs the size of a vinyl 12-inch LP except they had pictures and sound on them. So back then I remember us thinking 'rock n' roll is going to be dead, it's going to be all about sound and visual artists'.

"So in the early 70s we wanted our own TV network where we would just show these little movies we'd make and put them out. Probably if one of us was a business major we might have started MTV ten years earlier and a whole lot better than what eventually came out."

Ask Mothersbaugh how he reflects on the sentiments of his back catalogue as they relate to the current global political climate and he is unequivocal.

"Unfortunately Devo has been proved correct!" he laughs. "We were right about what we talked about. And I say unfortunately because it would have been great if we were proved wrong and people decided that they wanted to make a difference and not let things go the way they went."

"I mean just look at our President of the last eight years. I never in a nightmare could have imagined that he would have got elected and somehow he stole an election. Somehow he got it! And it's incredible how Bush is so unrepentant for all his mistakes. It's frightening! It's unbelievable that it happened."

Currently writing new material, it is unclear if Devo will concoct another Whip It-style motivational anthem to address the malaise of the modern age. However, Mothersbaugh remains cautiously optimistic about the future.

"The problem is still that people in this country spend all their time watching TV and doing everything other than learning about the world," he says. "I think people are dumber now than they ever were and I hope an election could change things and that someone could make a difference. Hopefully we can take a different tack because it's embarrassing to carry the passport I'm carrying right now."



Mark Knopfler

2013-05-08 - Lodz, Atlas Arena 19:30 165-616 PLN

Roger Waters The Wall

2013-08-20, Warszawa, tickets: 242 zł - 1310 zł

Sonisphere Festival

2013-10-12 - Wroclaw 19:30, tickets: 165-1616 PLN

Iron Maiden

2013-08-20, Warszawa, tickets: 242 zł - 1310 zł

Need help?

Ask about this template.


Kate Houston*



1516 Woodstock Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90071


Contact us