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Beautiful Mutants: DEVO’s utterly mind-bending Jimi Hendrix cover
01:48 pm


Jimi Hendrix

Once upon a time this DEVO video was widely known, but the Jimi Hendrix estate refused to allow it to be used after a certain point, saying it was insulting to Jimi (which it kind of is, I can see why they think that, but still, why deprive the world of this greatness?!). I used to have it on Laserdisc, but when that same collection came out on DVD, this clip—one of the best things on it—was missing.

From an interview with DEVO’s Gerald Casale in Ear Candy:

Ear Candy: Speaking of de-evolution, why didn’t the Hendrix estate give you permission to put the “Are U Experienced” video on the DVD?

Gerald Casale: Further de-evolution. You understand that the consortium of people that now represent the Hendrix estate are basically run by lawyers; the lawyer mentality. Lawyers always posit the worst-case scenarios. Though that video was loved for years by anybody who saw it including the man who commissioned it—Chuck Arroff—a luminary in the music business who still claims to this day that it was one of his five most favorite videos ever; they [the lawyers] didn’t get it and assumed we were making fun of Jimi. That’s like saying “Whip It” makes fun of cowboys. This is so stupid it’s unbelievable.”

This high budget clip, one of only two DEVO promos to be shot on 35mm film, was produced by group and Rev. Ivan Stang, founder of The Church of the Subgenius. I especially like the part where Mark Mothersbaugh has the big eyes of Margaret Keane’s paintings. Apparently this particular video also marked the first use of the “morphing” video effect.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Post Post-Modern Man: DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh plans massive fine art retrospective
09:24 am


Mark Mothersbaugh

Love Is For the Birds, Baby!
Mark Mothersbaugh, “Love Is For the Birds, Baby!”
Mark Mothersbaugh’s work in DEVO (not that he did it alone) has often seemed like an extension of pop art into the commercial realm. DEVO’s “exhibitons” were albums, their “retrospectives” were compilations, and for a while there, their “museum” was effectively MTV. Pop Art 2.0, let’s call it: every bit of cover art or promotional gimcrackery seemed like a new Roy Lichtenstein with a political edge, as befitted a bunch of arty freethinkers from the cultural wilderness (or is it?) of northern Ohio. DEVO famously had a concept, and they fleshed it out with all manner of bold, cartoonish (yet strangely disturbed) pop paraphernalia.

Thus it’s no surprise that Mothersbaugh, at least, has been spending his free time churning out all manner of “paintings, prints, photography, rugs, sculpture and odd inventions like an instrument that plays bird calls” including “30,000 informal, post-card sized drawings that Mothersbaugh, 63, produced during decades of obsessive, mostly private, art-making.”
Mark Mothersbaugh, “1932 Matchmaking Stats, Pt. 1”
Mark Mothersbaugh, “Robot Loses His Head”
It sounds like Adam Lerner, curator of the upcoming show “Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver has his work cut out for him. Fortunately the show will cover all three floors of the MCA. “A lot of these things, it will be the first time any human other than me ever looked at it,” Mothersbaugh said.

The dates for the exhibition are October 31, 2014 to February 15, 2015. If you happen not to live in the Mountain Time Zone, fear not: six prominent museums have already booked the show after its time in Denver.
DEVO, “Post Post-Modern Man”:

“WB Mobile Art Spew Gallery featuring Mark Mothersbaugh”:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Band Who Fell to Earth: Early DEVO live at Max’s Kansas City
02:42 pm



An excerpt from Kevin C. Smith’s new book, Recombo DNA: The Story Of Devo, Or How the 60s Became the 80s.

While CBGB was ground zero for what had become known as punk, Devo would play the majority of their New York gigs at Max’s Kansas City. Once a favorite spot of Andy Warhol’s and his entourage, it had also served as the epicenter of the glam-rock scene of the early 70s. It was also where David Bowie and Iggy Pop first met. Located off Union Square, two blocks from Warhol’s Factory, it was “the exact place where pop art and pop life came together in New York in the 60s,” as the artist put it. “Teeny boppers and sculptors, rock stars and poets from St Mark’s Place, Hollywood actors checking out what the underground actors were all about, boutique owners and models, modern dancers and go-go dancers—everybody went to Max’s and everything got homogenized there.”

Pere Ubu had played at Max’s at least a year earlier, and were in fact the only non-New Yorkers among the eight bands to feature on the compilation album Max’s Kansas City 1976 (reissued in 1978 as Max’s Kansas City—New York New Wave). Devo made their debut at the venue immediately after their second CBGB show on May 25 1977. Having worn their yellow HAZMAT suits at CBGB, at Max’s they unveiled some new finds: high-waisted, billowy, knee-length Gurkha shorts (as worn by the Nepalese military units from which they took their name) and white suspenders. These baggy, pleated shorts were entirely out of step with prevailing trends of the 70s but predated the look of the 80s.

Devo would return to Max’s for more shows during the summer, fall, and winter of 1977, one of which was attended by an aspiring music journalist, Byron Coley, who would later travel with the band on their first major-label tour just over a year later and write about the experience for New York Rocker. They had an intriguing way with introductions. “I personally fell in love with Devo during the summer of ’77 at Max’s Kansas City,” Coley later wrote. “What made the show so special for me was the moment when Bob Mothersbaugh got so carried away with his solo on ‘Smart Patrol’ that he jabbed his guitar into my ear and actually drew blood. Ya hear that, babies? Blood! You think I’d spill the very essence of life over some band I hadn’t taken a mighty big hankering to? Damn straight I wouldn’t. When he jabbed the same guitar into my pal Strato’s eye (blackening it for a long two weeks), I knew this was indeed the band for me. Their swell costumes and even sweller songs had me in their sway. Call me a fool, I call it rock’n’roll.”

Each of the band’s forays to New York drew bigger crowds than the last, and their reputation increased correspondingly. The main booker at Max’s, Peter Crowley, would later describe the band’s performances there as “a giant showcase. They were already becoming famous and all that . . . but they were not identified with Max’s as struggling beginners. They were already kings of the underground. By playing New York, they then got the international reputation.”

For their second appearance at Max’s, Devo shared the bill with the equally misanthropic New York bands The Cramps—featuring transplanted Akron native Lux Interior—and Suicide. The latter group regularly caused genuine riots—including one in Belgium that had to be dispersed with tear gas—with their performances, which featured Martin Rev’s primitive organ and rhythm boxes and Alan Vega’s confrontational stage demeanor. He would routinely taunt pugilistic audience members with a bicycle chain, and sometimes barricade the exits so audiences were forced to stay and listen. Suicide shows would culminate in the ten-minute ‘Frankie Teadrop,’ a harrowing tale of a desperate factory worker’s murder of his wife and six-month-old child. “People would run, screaming,” Television guitarist Richard Lloyd recalled. “The whole crowd at CBGB would go outside . . . it was dreadful. But that’s their charm.”

The band’s formation in 1970 preceded Devo’s by a few years, but the impetus was the same. “The Vietnam War was going nuts with Nixon dropping bombs everywhere,” Vega recalled. “Suicide was very much a reaction to all the shit that was going on around us.” For all the nihilism and cynicism, however, one of the band’s defining works was ‘Dream Baby Dream,’ which Vega described as being “about the need to keep our dreams alive.”

Before the show at Max’s, the legendarily confrontational Vega let down his stage persona long enough to go and introduce himself to Devo in their dressing room. He was shocked at what he found. “I opened their door and they were all doing calisthenics,” he recalled. “When they performed, they were almost like a calisthenic—all in unison with their movements onstage—like a machine. When I looked into their dressing room and saw them doing all their movements I just cracked up.” Nonetheless, Vega got on well with the band, and remembered them signing a record deal shortly after the show. It was not the first time that had happened. “This was test for the band: if the band could play to a Suicide crowd and get over it, then they got signed.”

Although Devo found acceptance within the burgeoning underground rock scene in New York, they realized that their unique worldview could not have been fostered there. In Akron, they had been allowed to develop in isolation, whereas audiences in New York had been able to watch bands like the Ramones and Talking Heads evolve over time. “When Devo finally popped and were able to drive in our Econoline van from Ohio to New York City and play shows, people were disbelieving that it could have even happened,” Mark recalled. “They were like: how did we not know about this? . . . People were mystified. They wanted to know what Akron was.”

Jerry had a similar backhanded compliment for his hometown. “Devo couldn’t have come out of LA or New York. Cleveland and Akron are like the boot camp to the world. If you can survive those places and still be a functioning human being, you can go anywhere. It’s pretty brutal. It was industrial then, and it was very blue-collar, and it was very hostile to creativity. So the bands that had the balls to do something in the face of the rejection and threats really got strong.”

An excerpt from Kevin C. Smith’s new book, Recombo DNA: The Story Of Devo, Or How the 60s Became the 80s.

Hardcore DEVO has just been re-released by Superior Viaduct/Boogie Boy Records.

“Mongoloid” and “Gut Feeling” live at Max’s Kansas City in 1977
More live early DEVO at Max’s Kansas City after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
DEVO light switch plate made of LEGO pieces
08:53 am



BrickShtick makes these handmade DEVO light switch plates from LEGO pieces and “elements that are either new or gently used.”

I could see this totally working in a child’s bedroom. A cool child.

It’s $36.00 + shipping here.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Give The Drummer Some: Drummers appreciate DEVO’s man machine Alan Meyers
12:43 pm


Alan Meyers

As a failed musician myself, drummers have always fascinated me. They are the engines that drive music. They provide the beat we humans have danced to since music began – likely well before we had language itself.

There are obviously extraordinary drummers in popular music history. Just off the top of my battered head with an attempt at offering some diversity: Gene Krupa, Keith Moon, Stephen Perkins, Louie Bellson, Topper Headon, “Bigfoot” Brailey, Moe Tucker, Max Roach, Jody Stephens, Carly Barrett, Jaki Liebezeit, Pete Thomas and Hugo Burnham (see below) are those who most immediately come to mind.

Their role, their significance in their respective bands was rarely, if ever, taken for granted by their fans. There was one pioneering drummer whose special skill was always the most overlooked in his singular band, DEVO. Rather than bloviate any further on the subject myself, I’ve invited a few experts to testify as to drummer Alan Meyer’s special genius….

“1978 was a delicious time…. for a musician just getting purchase on a real future….loving the old, adoring the new - sucking it all up. Then this thing - DEVO’s first album - hit us. Two big smacks to the head… Eno produced it, but we old “Ziggy Kids” (many, many of the first wave of UK “punks” were) had heard of them because David was lauding them already; PLUS, they had the balls to do “Satisfaction.” Hello?! Before Ziggy (and Slade and Roxy and Mott, etc., etc.), it had been The Stones. First response was “WTF?” Then it crept up and into my heart and brain and synapses. The video, the pictures, the clothes, the artwork, the fucking hats…. that DRUMMING. Damn. So you could be weird and still rock it, still nail the bedrock for the rest of the band. It wasn’t about rudiments and technique (...neither or which I ever had…), but about feel and exploration and risks. Thanks, Alan Meyers. You made it easier for me to find my way, my style. I just wish I could have said it to your face… while gripping your hand as hard and with as much drummer-love as I once did Bernard Purdie’s.

What a man, what a man, what a mighty fine man Alan Meyers was. And always will be. Thank you.”

—Hugo Burnham, Gang Of Four

“The best part about the early DEVO records was their careful balance between human and machine. It was Kraftwerkian. Alan was so robotic he crossed backed over into soul. It’s robot soul music. When DEVO went to the drum machines, the Fairlight CMI’s sequencers, it robbed their rhythms of that delicate balance.

Garvy J./Josh Hager – Edited/programmed drums on Devo’s most recent LP, Something For Everybody.

“Back in ‘78 and ‘79 The Ruts used to rehearse in a squat in New Cross in south London. Segs (Bassist) and I would rehearse and jam. We were most inspired by DEVO and their wonderful pumping jerky rhythms which helped us write our own tunes. Thank you, Mr. Meyers. May you rest in peace.”

—Dave Ruffy – Currently playing w/Ruts DC & Dexy’s Midnight Drummer (Also known for work with World Party, Sinead O’Connor and The Waterboys.

“He was perfect at what he did. Period.”

—Deborah Frost, Ex-Flaming Youth drummer

“Alan was quite an influence on me, even though I could never duplicate his speed or technique, he was absolutely incredible to listen to. Made Devo that much better.”

—Dave Lovering, Pixies

“The first time I saw Alan play was on my parents’ little B&W TV in the late 70’s when DEVO performed on Saturday Night Live. I was watching with my dad as that amazing “Satisfaction” beat began. Then those boys in their yellow jumpsuits stepped into the light with their deformed instruments and played in a way I had never heard. Me and my dad weren’t sure if it was a skit or not. It blew my child mind!!!! Bands like that and drummers like Alan were pioneers showing the rest of us what is possible outside the mainstream mind frame. De-evolution indeed!!! RIP and thank you, Alan”

—Matt Tecu/Drummer for hire extraordinaire.

So many of us had that same experience as Matt. The nation’s first glimpse of DEVO was one of those watershed moments of early SNL like Elvis Costello bailing out of “Less Than Zero” to rip into the then wildly controversial “Radio Radio” or The B-52’s with the hair and Fred plunking on the toy piano that NBC/Universal won’t allow to stream online. Instead check out this early clip of “Mongoloid” and “Gut Feeling” performed in 1977. Hardcore DEVO (with Alan Meyers on some, but not all of the tracks) has just been re-released by Superior Viaduct/Boogie Boy Records.

Posted by Bruce McDonald | Leave a comment
That’s Good: DEVO’s guest appearance on ‘Square Pegs,’ 1983
09:17 am


Square Pegs
That's Good

GULP. I remember this like it was yesterday: DEVO guest-starring on the short-lived high school TV comedy Square Pegs in 1983.

Below, DEVO appear as themselves at “Muffy’s Bat Mitzvah.”

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment