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DEVO becomes public art, streets of Akron, Ohio are overrun with Booji Boys
07:04 am


Jerry Casale
Janet Macoska

On Saturday August 15, 2015, Akron Ohio’s finest post-rubber export DEVO were honored in their hometown with the dedication of a piece of public art. The iconic 1978 Janet Macoska photo of the band in full stage uniform in front of the late, lamented hot dog stand Chili Dog Mac was colorized, enlarged to life size, and placed over that onetime landmark’s former facade next to the Akron Civic Theatre. This dedication is the first part of a planned renovation of that entire block, which has become a bit rundown and suffered vacancies despite having an anchor in the popular theater.

The event was a stone hoot. DEVO’s bassist/co-mastermind Jerry Casale and photographer Macoska were present, free chili dogs were available to all assembled, and the event began with a surreal and hilarious stunt, the Running of the Booji Boys. A couple dozen revelers in identical Booji Boy masks and blue jumpsuits danced in the middle of South Main St while a DJ pumped out DEVO music. The masks, not incidentally, are recreations by Akron’s SikRik Masks. DM has told you about them before. (All photos are by Ron Kretsch except where noted.)



Much more DEVO after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Great DEVO Cat Listening Party of 2010
11:26 am



In 2010, in order to promote its new album Something for Everybody, DEVO created a one-time-only “DEVO Cat Listening Party,” in which the band isolated a handful of kitties in “a specially constructed room” equipped with “an enormous blue Energy Dome scratching post.”

This event happened on June 15, 2010, at the Warner Bros. offices in Burbank, California. Songs from Something for Everybody were for about two hours while the cute kitties, provided by Jungle Exotics, frolicked and played their feline games to the socially incisive pop music.

Warner Bros. Records new media director Cara Heller stated, “We were told they like music, but we didn’t know how cats react to listening to music over long periods of time and we didn’t want to burn them out.”

The event was streamed continuously on a dedicated Ustream feed, and in fact if you go to that feed today you’ll find a 50-minute video documenting the event. It’s embedded below. Judging from the video, they also had a massive supply of blue energy domes to give away—I wish I owned one, I would have worn it while writing this…..


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh predicts the rise of matriarchy
12:17 pm


Mark Mothersbaugh

This interview with Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO has been bouncing around for a while but with inexact provenance information. Yesterday Televandelist uploaded a better copy and usefully marked it as coming from The Cutting Edge Happy Hour, an MTV show started by the I.R.S. record label in 1983. For most of its existence the host of the show was the Fleshtones’ lead singer, Peter Zaremba, whose flat Long Island accent can be heard at the start of the clip.

It’s safe to say that this clip dates from 1987—Televandelist labeled it as 1987-1988. First off, Wikipedia explains that The Cutting Edge Happy Hour went off the air in 1987. Furthermore, Mothersbaugh was being interviewed to promote an exhibition of his postcard paintings—the astute Dave Thompson mentions in his book Alternative Rock that Mothersbaugh had just such an exhibition of his postcards in Los Angeles in 1987, so that’s certainly what we’re looking at here. 

These are the same postcards featured in Mothersbaugh’s 2014 book Myopia, which we wrote about last November.
Towards the end of the interview Mothersbaugh offers his views on the future of society—not so strongly in the hyperbolic Mothersbaugh “character”—and they’re pretty darn interesting:

I’m anticipating a matriarch system, where women finally say, “We’ve had enough of this shit [bleeped] with men in control,” and they take over. I mean, they’re smarter, they’re prettier, they live longer, they’re healthier, they don’t need men to have children anymore, they don’t need us as beast of burdens anymore even, they got machines to take care of all that, and so I think men should be ready to assume their logical place on the planet, and that is as objects of pleasure for females.

Amazing! Mothersbaugh accurately anticipated much of this decade we are in—women are increasingly the breadwinners in many families, and the question of machines supplanting workers in general has already become a pressing issue for unions and politicians for the foreseeable future.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Q: Are We Not Throbbleheads? DEVO’s Booji Boy limited edition
09:40 am

Pop Culture


Booji Boy (you’re supposed to say it like “Boogie Boy” but no one ever does) was a character created by DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh in the early 1970s after he found a sick-looking rubber “baby mask” in an Akron, OH novelty store and added a hazmat suit and high-pitched voice. Booji Boy made his first appearance in the short film DEVO made in 1976, The Truth About De-Evolution, where Booji Boy’s father, General Boy, was portrayed by Mothersbaugh’s own father, Robert Mothersbaugh, Sr.

Booji Boy’s “origins” were discussed in the booklet to DEVO’s CD-ROM video game Adventures of the Smart Patrol:

Obsessed with the idea of genetic mutation, Craig submitted to a botched operation in an effort to land a media deal with Big Media. Viola! Boogie Boy - a bizarre adult infant freak with pre-adolescent sexuality and Yoda-like wisdom.

The liner notes also discussed his father’s backstory a bit:

General Boy’s career as a military intelligence officer was cut short over his claim that he experienced an alien abduction. He was made to undergo psychiatric testing which resulted in progressive mental instability. Shortly after his son’s transformation into Boogie Boy, he stopped answering to Mr. Rothwell and became General Boy out of love and sympathy for his son.


And now there is a throbblehead based on Booji Boy, brought to you by Aggronautix, the same folks who have previously produced toys featuring Jello Biafra, Andrew W.K., GG Allin, Roky Erickson and Mark Mothersbaugh himself sporting a DEVO energy dome hat:

Based on DEVO concert photos dating back to the late 1970s, this limited edition bobblin’ Booji Boy figure is wearing his favorite over-stuffed exercise suit, and is armed with an early circuit-bent toy.

Booji Boy is limited to just 1000 numbered units and includes a Booji Boy vinyl sticker sheet. You can pre-order yours now, DEVO fanboys, and it will ship in June. Now they just need to make one of General Boy. That would be very… obscure.

After the jump, ‘The Truth About De-Evolution’

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
We found the all-time best DEVO live recording. Let’s listen to it, for free.
09:19 am



This is simply the best DEVO live recording out there. The sound is crystal clear, and the band is absolutely on fire during this 1978 performance at San Francisco’s Old Waldorf.

Terry Hammer was an audio engineer during the heyday of first wave punk in San Francisco. He maintains a mind-blowing YouTube channel upon which he has graciously decided to share dozens of live recordings he engineered for Bay Area radio stations KALX, KTIM, KSAN, KSJO, KUSF, and KSFS. Though it appears that Hammer was not the engineer on this particular live recording of DEVO, broadcast on KSAN on November 10th, 1978, he certainly had access to a low generation tape—and was kind enough to share it with the rest of us!

DEVO here are touring for their first album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO!, and were a well-oiled machine at this point. Perhaps it was a desire to impress the West Coast punkers that has the group blasting through their songs at furious tempos, far more hectic than on their albums.

This is not the first time these recordings have been made public. Obviously they were on the KSAN airwaves, but then some enterprising bootleggers in the late ‘70s released the show under at least two different titles.



The sound here is much improved from those ratty bootleg LPs. This thing is phenomenal.

Check it out right here:


Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Fried chicken à la DEVO: Mark Mothersbaugh’s recipe for ‘Chocolava Stump Logs’
06:25 am


fried chicken

The Rock and Roll Cookbook: Favorite Recipes from the Chart Toppers, Hit Makers and Legends of Rock and Roll, published in 1993, includes a recipe for chocolate-covered fried chicken from DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh. I’m still not sure whether the men of DEVO actually ate this dish, or if the recipe is more along the lines of Ween’s endorsement of huffing Scotchguard.

The yellow press, never friendly to Mothersbaugh’s band of latter-day saints, mocked this recipe when the cookbook was published. Under the headline “OH, PLEASE PASS MY BARF BAG!” the writer of the Philadelphia Daily News’ “Tattle” column opined:

We would advise staying away from Devo’s Chocolava Stump Logs, created from carry-out chicken logs and Bosco chocolate syrup; all they prove is that some people still smoke a lot of dope.

But, you know, the proof of the pudding, and like that, Philadelphia Daily News: it’s probably actually really good. Chicken mole is a respected cousin to this friendless dish, and Mothersbaugh demonstrates his impeccable taste in the first line of the recipe with his selection of Pioneer Chicken, the best fried chicken chain of them all. If you’ve ever had a good bucket of Pioneer, KFC and Popeyes taste like the contents of a vacuum cleaner; you might as well suck old cornflakes out of your friend’s couch and pay him ten dollars. If you want some of Pioneer’s famous bird in 2015, you’ll have to travel to Los Angeles or Indonesia, and God help you if you’re trying to find Bosco in either of those places. Leave time for a stop at Kroger’s on the way to the airport, pilgrim, or you’ll be fucked, flustered and far from home.

I digress. Duty now, spuds!

Chocolava Stump Logs

1 12-pack order of Pioneer Chicken Carry-out Logs

1 can Bosco chocolate sauce

Place room temperature sauce into bowl, then carefully dip chicken logs into sauce (chicken nuggets can be substituted in an emergency). Arrange on a plate in either Lincoln Log Cabin or smiley face shapes. Enjoy!

Specify free-range chicken and pesticide-free chocolate syrup.

Something tasty from DEVO, after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Satisfaction’ shootout: DEVO VS the Residents VS the Rolling Stones (spoiler: the Stones don’t win)
07:19 am

Pop Culture

Rollings Stones

The news release heralding Superior Viaduct’s reissue of the Residents’ deeply messed-up “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” b/w “Loser = Weed” single contains a quotation that rang oddly familiar to me:

The Residents’ 1976 version of The Stones’ Satisfaction is nearly everything the better known version by Devo from a year later is not: Loose, belligerant, violent, truly fucked up. A real stick in the eye of everything conventionally tasteful in 1976 America. Delightfully painful to listen to thanks to Philip “Snakefinger” Lithman’s completely unhinged lead guitar and mystery Resident member’s menacing vocal, this is a timeless piece of yellow plastic.

That blurb is from Brad Laner, a member of not one but two of my favorite bands and a former Dangerous Minds contributor, and in fact, it was a DM post about five years ago—a post I happen to agree with. The Residents’ “Satisfaction” IS pretty admirably unhinged, genuinely frightening, and a righteous fuck-you to a rock canon classic that, in some circles, remains beyond sacrosanct. Contemporary with their second album, the unfuckwithable Third Reich ‘n’ Roll, which, like the single, is an unsparing deconstruction of classic radio hits, many of which were still fairly new songs at the time. “Satisfaction” isn’t on the album—the Rolling Stones are represented there by a half-reverent, half-funereal take on “Sympathy for the Devil” in the album’s coda. While it did appear on the 1988 CD reissue as an extra, along with “Loser=Weed” and a couple of Beatles travesties, the wax itself is a rare collectible, fetching in the neighborhood of $35. Superior Viaduct’s colored vinyl repress, at $9, still feels a tad spendy for a 7”, but that’s way more manageable than procuring an original. It can also be had as part of a five-record bundle with reissues by Flipper, X, the Dils and the Germs, at $40 for the whole set. (I totally want the Flipper one, too, but that’s another post.)

The Residents, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction)”

Of course, DEVO’s version of the song is the one that most aggressively vies with the Rolling Stones’ original for definitive status, and how could it not? Obviously, the original is indisputably classic in every sense of the word, and after five decades, it’s still one of the most widely covered ‘60s songs this side of “Stepping Stone.” But who can really believe that song from Mick Jagger? By the song’s mid-1965 single release, he was already a gazillionaire rockstar heartthrob who probably had illegitimate children in all 48 contiguous US states, so did anyone seriously believe there was anything unsatisfying about that man’s life? For all its musical timelessness—good LORD, that riff!—the Stones’ version edges out Britney Spears’ cover for plausibility (neither singer was particularly “on a losing streak” at the time their version was released), but that’s about it. None of that does all that much to dull its effectiveness as an anthem, but I buy a song about sexual frustration and contempt for commercialism much more readily in the anxiety-ridden version by the brainy midwestern dorks in DEVO. Unlike the Residents, DEVO aren’t shooting for a takedown or a deconstruction; their version feels more like a successful effort to finally put the song in a proper context. Alan Myers’ freakishly asymmetric drum beat and Gerald Casale’s rubber-band bass line are every bit as capable of inducing existential dread in a socially insecure geek as Keith Richards’ ingenious three-note intro riff is of inducing “fuck yeahs” in a classicist, and doesn’t that speak more closely to the intent of the lyrics—not a single word of which DEVO changed?

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Pere Ubu, DEVO and more seminal Ohio punk on two new compilations

I’m in my mid ‘40s, and I’ve lived my entire life in Cleveland, OH. Go ahead and fire up your jokes, I’ve heard ‘em all, and frankly, if you still think it’s a punchline, I’m perfectly happy for you to keep your uninformed pierogi-hole on lockdown and stay far the hell away so as not to pollute my zen (OR: if you want to check it out with an open mind, I know a ton of very cool people who’d be glad to point you in all the right directions). I’ve traveled plenty, though obviously one can never travel enough, and I’ve had opportunities to live elsewhere, but so far I’ve taken none of them. Part of that was because until a few years ago I had enviable job security in an industry I loved, and I still have a crazy low cost of living, but the REAL magnet that’s kept me here? The music scene is and always has been beyond utterly fucking brilliant. I have never wanted for gifted mutants to rock with, and while everybody steeped in punk and New Wave lore knows what a musical atom bomb Northeast Ohio was in the ‘70s, and while the success of the Black Keys, indie champs Cloud Nothings, and garage/soul shit-fucker-upper Obnox are attracting attention here nowadays, the rarely-told stories of the ‘80s, ‘90s and oughts scenes are doozies, as well. Almost every time I’ve pondered a move, it’s been a band that’s kept me around, even though nary a one of ‘em has ever made a dent, and I while I abidingly love a lot of other cities, I’ve yet to seriously regret sticking it out here. A close-knit music scene teeming with talent is just that strong an attractor for me.

Recently, the excellent archival record label Soul Jazz have, as part of their ongoing PUNK 45 series, released two excellent compilations documenting the ‘70s/early ‘80s roots of that music scene, one each for Cleveland and Akron, both with extremely generous liner notes. They cover all the stuff I missed out on by being not being born 10 years earlier, but obviously these bands still weigh heavily on the region’s underground musical legacy. Both are assembled from early, independently-released 7"s, and both accordingly feature some previously compiled material AND some serious treasures.

The Akron comp, Burn Rubber City, Burn!, has the early DEVO single “Mechanical Man” and the rarity “Auto Modown,” the Waitresses’ early single “The Comb,” and Tin Huey’s awesome “Squirm You Worm.” (Versions embedded in this post may not be the same as what’s actually on the comp; they were the versions I could find online. )

The Waitresses, “The Comb”
Plenty more after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The song co-written by DEVO and John Hinckley Jr., Ronald Reagan’s failed assassin

If you look carefully at the credits for DEVO’s 1982 album Oh, No! It’s DEVO, you will spot a name that doesn’t ordinarily pop up in the DEVO universe or even the music world generally. The name is John Hinckley, Jr., and he is best known to the world as the man who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981, in a batshit-crazy attempt to win the amorous affections of Jodie Foster, then still a teenager. Hinckley was strongly influenced by The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and, far more pertinently, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, in which Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle considers assassinating a U.S. Senator named Palantine but then opts to murder the pimp who has rights over a teen prostitute portrayed by the selfsame Jodie Foster.

When Foster enrolled in Yale University, Hinckley moved all the way from Texas to New Haven, just so he could be near her. He engaged in a lot of creepy, stalker behavior that if you saw it in a movie, you’d think it was overdone, enrolling in the same writing class as her, leaving all kinds of poems and messages for her, and calling her repeatedly. Eventually he would squeeze off six rounds outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, wounding two Secret Service agents and Reagan’s press secretary as well as (via a ricochet) the president himself.

According to Rolling Stone, DEVO got in touch with Hinckley and acquired one of his demented love poems to Foster and adapted it into a song called “I Desire.” Here are some representative lyrics:

I pledge allegiance to the fact
That you’re wise to walk away
For nothing is more dangerous
Than desire when it’s wrong

Don’t let me torment you
Don’t let me bring you down
Don’t ever let me hurt you
Don’t let me fail because

I desire your attention
I desire your perfect love
I desire nothing more

The stunt not only annoyed Warner Bros., who learned that they would be obliged to send Hinckley royalty payments for the song, but also, according to Rolling Stone, won DEVO the official attentions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

As Mark Mothersbaugh recalled, “[Hinckley] let us take a poem that he had written, and we used it for the lyrics and turned it into a love song. It was not the best career move you could make. We had the FBI calling up and threatening us.”

In November of 1982, Hinckley wrote a letter to the “Morning Zoo” crew of KZEW, a Dallas radio station, in which he professes his love for “New Wave music” (hey, me too!) and requests that the station play “I Desire” a total of “58 times each day.” Here’s the full quote:

I like New Wave music, especially Devo, since I co-wrote a song on their new album. The song is called “I Desire” and I want you to play it 58 times each day.


In the letter Hinckley also writes, “I used to listen to the song ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie when I was stalking Carter and Reagan. It got me in a strange mood. ... In March and April of 1980, I hung out at Peaches Record Store on Fitzhugh.” Peaches, which used to be on the intersection of Cole and Fitzhugh in northern Dallas, has, alas, bitten the dust.

Below, listen to “I Desire,” the only new wave ditty ever co-written by a presidential assassin:


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Are We Not Men?: Exclusive preview of the new concert film ‘Hardcore DEVO Live!’
05:52 am



On February 10th, Hardcore DEVO Live!, the iconic band’s new Blu-ray/DVD/CD/2xLP will be released. The show was recorded live last year at a theater in Oakland while the band was in the midst of their 2014 tour. This time out they weren’t supporting a new album, nor were they strictly playing their most familiar material. Instead, DEVO re-visited the experimental work they recorded between 1974 and 1977.

“Jocko Homo” is one of those formative tunes. Though it was included on their debut LP, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO!, a different version appeared as the b-side of their first single in 1977. Later on, “Whip It” was a big hit, and is still their most famous track, but “Jocko Homo” stands as DEVO’s anthem.

Front-man Mark Mothersbaugh:

‘Jocko Homo’ was one of the first songs I wrote for the band. The whole song was meant to be a theme song for the theory of de-evolution and for DEVO, what we were about. It was meant to lay out the story right there. It was a collection of discussions we had where we sat around in Kent after students had been shot, and decided that what we were seeing happening on the planet, when we looked at the news and read the paper, was not evolution but was more appropriately described as de-evolution. (Songfacts)

In our exclusive clip from Hardcore DEVO Live!, the group is seen playing “Jocko Homo” without guitarist Robert Casale, who passed away in February of 2014. “Bob 2,” as he was known, was a founding member, and the tour was a tribute to him. It may be forty years on, but here the band is as animated as ever, especially Mothersbaugh, who—as he has been wont to do during performances of this number over the years—enters the audience for the “Are we not men? We are DEVO!” chant. Stick around until the end for a brief interview with Mothersbaugh on the confrontational history tied to the track.

If you missed it here a few months back, be sure to check out Howie Pyro’s fascinating DEVO post on the genesis of their de-evolution theory, which sprang largely from the discovery of the obscure anti-evolution religious pamphlet, Jocko-Homo Heavenbound.

Most of the tunes that comprise the Hardcore DEVO Live! set can be found on their demos collection, Hardcore, which is totally essential.

One more thing: the phrase “Are we not men?” was borrowed from the creepy horror classic, Island of Lost Souls.

Okay, let’s go!:

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
‘Devotees’: Beautiful mutants create insane DEVO tribute album, 1979
08:18 am



The cover for the first DEVO album was “inspired” by the logo of golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez

The enduring vogue for tribute compilations can probably be traced back to an origin in the late ‘80s, when the Johnny Cash tribute ‘Til Things Are Brighter and the Neil Young tribute The Bridge both earned critical raves and much college radio spinnage. But though the concept didn’t catch real fire until almost the turn of the ‘90s, it had been around. Witness 1979’s Devotees Album, the DEVO tribute album produced by L.A.‘s legendary radio station KROQ.

The album differs substantially from most tribute comps, which are typically heavily curated affairs, like the popular and long-running “Red Hot and [whatever]” series. The aforementioned Johnny Cash trib was assembled as a labor of love by members of the Fall and the Mekons, years before Cash’s resurgence in popularity. But this DEVO tribute is basically a collection of fan art! KROQ invited listeners to submit DEVO covers, and the selections that made it to the comp were determined in a contest. So instead of marquee names, you have a lot of genuine weirdo shit, crafted by creative obsessives, few of whom were ever heard from again. As such, it’s a mixed bag, ranging from shitty-but-endearing efforts you maybe never need to hear more than once in a blue moon, to totally brilliant mix-tape staples.

Another effect of its mob-sourced curation is that there are repeaters, which is usually a tribute comp no-no: the album contains three versions each of fan favorites “Mongoloid” and “Jocko Homo.” Amusingly, two of the “Jocko Homos” included music played on touch tone telephones. The first was “Jocko Bozo,” a clown-themed sendup by the Firemen. Some YouTube smartass dubbed that cut over some actual DEVO live footage, and I’m not 100% sure how I feel about that, but you can watch it here. The second was by the Touch Tone Tuners, who, true to their name, played ALL their track’s music on a phone. Embeddable media for that one seems nonexistent, but the ever-helpful WFMU has an MP3 of it online.

Another big winner is the Bakersfield Boogie Boys’ version of “Okie from Muskogee,” the presence of which is a bit of a headscratcher—did DEVO ever do that song? I can find no evidence that they did, but that hardly matters, as this track was so well received that Rhino gave that band an EP all their own, which is so ridiculously DEVO-ish in its robotic affect and squared-off synth textures, I’m sure someone out there thought the BBBs were actually just DEVO playing a prank.

Finding the LP in its entirety online is difficult, or I’d have just streamed the whole damn thing for you. It’s never come out on CD, which is amazing, not just because it’s DEVO-related, but because the original LP was released by the reissue-happy Rhino Records. Fortunately, re-sale prices for the LP on Amazon and Discogs are perfectly reasonable. But despite the paucity of sharable tracks, there is an illuminating contrast yet to draw—two versions of “Mongoloid,” one a fairly straight, if silly, take, and the next a disturbingly lysergic “Revolution #9”-ish mishmash, redolent of dorm room delirium tremens.


Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Myopia: New art book by Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO
06:17 am


Mark Mothersbaugh

Is there such a thing as a natural-born pop artist? I don’t really think there is, but the voluminous graphical art of Mark Mothersbaugh, well known to Dangerous Minds readers as the frontman and co-founder of DEVO, is enough to give me pause.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver on Thursday opened Myopia, a very large exhibition showcasing the art of Mark Mothersbaugh that runs through April. (If it rings a bell, it may be because we wrote about it last winter.) Adam Lerner, director of the museum and curator of the show, takes pains in the book accompanying the show published by Princeton Architectural Press, to emphasize Mothersbaugh’s almost preposterous productivity: “Mark Mothersbaugh is a fountain of creative energy. He creates postcard-size drawings and collages on a daily basis (more than 30,000 of them so far) and uses them as the basis for other works. ...”

It’s well known that the spark that led to DEVO’s formation was the tragic shooting at Kent State in May 1970, which Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale witnessed. Mothersbaugh puts it well in the book: “For a lot of reasons, the shootings gave me a focus.” To flip through Myopia is to wonder just what button that event pushed in Mothersbaugh’s brain—there seems to be no cessation of the combinations of icons and slogan-like textual elements that Mothersbaugh can’t put together in an arresting image. Lerner wants to emphasize that DEVO is merely one channel for Mothersbaugh’s creativity, with the works featured in Myopia representing some of the others, and that’s perfectly true. It may not be “fair” that DEVO overshadows the entirety of Mothersbaugh’s other output, but that’s the nature of showbiz. A less curmudgeonly way of thinking about it is that Mothersbaugh has found success in the opposed worlds of pop culture and high art in ways that reinforce each other.

It kind of goes without saying for anyone who knows his or her DEVO, but Mothersbaugh’s sloganeering impulse is strongly influenced by advertising. Picking almost at random from the images, you can find phrases in Mothersbaugh’s pictures such as “Don’t Bullshit God, Padre!” “Press My Tummy, Buttwipe!” “I’m Keeping Score, You Fiend!” “Soiled Linen Pantaloons, Yakety Pants,” and on and on. The exclamation points aren’t incidental—there’s a hectoring quality that maybe prevents Mothersbaugh’s images from penetrating the upper echelons of art, but he’s awfully adept and they function really well below that threshold. Hell, even the ones without words are almost as emphatic—the man understands his icons. As for originality, obviously Mothersbaugh owes a huge debt to the pop art movement of the 1950s and after: The Ben-Day dots, visible on the cover, are obviously a nod to Roy Lichtenstein and through him to pop art in general.

My guess is that 90% of DEVO’s fans have no idea just how startling and accomplished an artist Mark Mothersbaugh is. If you take DEVO’s output and convert it to a collection of paintings, it would look a lot like the pieces in Myopia—possibly just because of the sheer number of postcard-style paintings and doodles Mothersbaugh has produced, the graphical art ranges a little wider and more freely than DEVO’s catalog, for reasons that should be mostly obvious. Also, the pretense of the Devolution schtick isn’t quite as present—the levels of pessimistic irony are a little flatter in the paintings, so you can apprehend it a little easier. It’s still about showing you the ugliest side of our noisy culture somehow, but you can admire it purely as an aesthetic thing without the oxytocin hit of DEVO’s spastic 4/4 beat.

Riggs’ Class Record No. 101 (No D) (pages 18 and 19), 1971

Untitled, 1984

LuAnn, ca. 1984

Untitled, 1991

Untitled, 2001

HA, 2004

Kiss Me, 2004

Untitled (Censor), 2004

Are We Not Men?, 2004

Untitled, 2010
(Most of the images in this post can be clicked on for a larger version.)

Here’s the first section of a roughly 75-minute interview conducted at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles a month ago:

(All images from Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia edited by Adam Lerner, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2014. The book goes on sale November 4 but you can pre-order it before then.)

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
DEVO ‘busking’ on French TV, 1980
06:43 am


Stéphane Collaro

I’ll bet a lot of bands at the turn of the ‘80s must have envied the media penetration DEVO were enjoying around then. Even before the creation and widespread adoption of MTV, that band’s knowingly goofy presentation made them just so much fun to look at that they were able to storm not just the late night shows where adventurous music was fairly commonplace, but also blandly housewifey daytime chat shows like Merv Griffin‘s.

Here’s a rarely-seen overseas example—this comes from a June, 1980 broadcast of Collaroshow, a French comedy/variety program. DEVO mimed “Girl U Want,” the leadoff song and first single from their then brand new LP Freedom of Choice, as sidewalk buskers. It’s all done in a single camera shot (a tribute to Rope, or just cheapness?) that circles the band with vocalist Mark Motherbaugh. It’s guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh, though, who wins the day here, his energy dome roguishly cocked at an angle as he flips the bird at the camera to punctuate the song’s solo. The ice cream “microphone,” in a perfectly DEVO-ish yellow and red, is an amusing touch, too.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Q: Are We Not Men? The origins of DEVO’s theory of De-Evolution!
07:18 pm



The concept of De-Evolution, the guiding philosophy of DEVO, dates back way past 1972 Ohio. In fact it officially dates back in print to 1924 Ohio when Rev. BH Shadduck (PhD!) published his wild anti-evolution booklet Jocko-Homo Heavenbound (aka Jocko-Homo Heaven-Bound King of the Zoo). The book and the many followup books published by his Jocko-Homo Pub. Co. were popular in his lifetime, but then sat dormant for decades waiting to be rediscovered. Gerald Casale was a student at Kent State who’d been using the term “De-Evolution” before he met fellow student Mark Mothersbaugh in 1970. But it was Mothersbaugh who owned the Jocko-Homo booklet and introduced it to Casale, and here the embryonic DEVO truly began to devolve.
Rev. B.H. Shadduck (1869-1950) was many things in his day, an officer in the Salvation Army, Deacon and Elder in the Methodist church, Doctor of Philosophy, Christian apologist, public speaker, vocal critic of the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and vigilant refuter of evolution, but he is best remembered today for his series of clearly insane religious pamphlets.
Brought up in a non religious household. He once stated that his father was an infidel:

I didn’t know what church or Sunday school was.  With no one to teach me of the way of God, I naturally grew up wild.  My first trip to church was to satisfy curiosity, and if I went afterward it was to escape some disagreeable (farm) work that father had for us on Sunday.

On February 6, 1888, after four months as a Salvation Army soldier, eighteen-year-old B. H. Shadduck was accepted as an officer in their organization at Ashtabula, Ohio.  Four years later he wrote—among numerous other lyrics put to the melodies of popular songs of the day—“The Great Judgment Morning,” a gospel standard that has appeared in dozens of hymnals and was recorded by country great Roy Acuff in 1941. He left the Salvation Army in 1893 after getting married, soon after commencing an affiliation with the Methodist church. As a Methodist pastor, Shadduck served churches largely in West Virginia and Ohio.  His influence would perhaps have been confined to this territory had not two particular incidents sparked a prolonged response from him.

The first was the unveiling of The Chrysalis, a sculpture of a man emerging from an ape ‘cocoon’, in West Side Unitarian, a liberal New York City church, in 1924. Dr. Shadduck was so revulsed at the thought of evolution supplanting Biblical creation even within church walls that he responded with the publication of Jocko-Homo Heavenbound which featured a disparaging pen-and-ink rendition of The Chrysalis on its cover with an added, angelic apparition emerging from the man-ape. Though written with his characteristically homespun wit, Shadduck soberly addressed the fallacies of evolutionary theories in the light of the scriptures as well as commonly-held scientific fact. A 32-page booklet with color covers and several full-page cartoons by F. W. Alden (of Waukesha, Wisconsin), Jocko-Homo (“ape-man”) Heavenbound, was a runaway seller, going through ten reprintings and being distributed throughout much of the United States and Canada. It was favorably reviewed in a number of Christian journals of the day, but some ‘modern’ churches refused to endorse Shadduck’s book.

The following year, Darwin’s theory of evolution drew nationwide attention with “the Scopes Monkey Trial” in Dayton, Tennessee in which prosecuting attorney William Jennings Bryan upheld Biblical creation and defense attorney Clarence Darrow argued for evolution. Though Bryan won the trial, he grew ill and died five days after its end, and evolution had clearly more than a foothold in the mind of “Christian America.”

Ironically, B. H. Shadduck’s publishing base of operations was latterly held in Ashtabula, Ohio, the birthplace of Clarence Darrow (and of Miriam Linna, future Cramps drummer who was, incidentally, the first human to distribute the first homemade DEVO single of “Jocko Homo” to New York record stores).
Having found one of Shadduck’s books The Toadstool Among the Tombs in the mid 1990’s,  I immediately purchased it due to the amazing cover which features a bizarre mushroom-man with glasses growing out of the ground in a graveyard. As I flipped through to the back I saw the words “Jocko-Homo” and was floored, having found the secret of my own De-Evolution idols, DEVO, who I had originally seen on their first visit to New York City in 1976 and immediately loved (I was later in the “Come Back Jonee” video).

It had to come from somewhere, and where better than some anti-evolutionist nut’s Bible thumping 1920’s cartoon series? The art is incredible and the most amazing thing of all is the snide, almost nasty, looking down his nose humor of B.H. Shadduck’s “characteristically homespun wit,” is so similar to DEVO’s own.
Of course the hunt for more of these books was on and eventually I found the holy grail of Shadduck’s books, his first, the one Mark Mothersbaugh had, Jocko-Homo Heavenbound. It just astounded me, and still does. You can trace much of their outlook, their sort of finger-wagging “shame on you, stupid” stance and even the “Devolutionary Oath” revealed in Devo’s 1976 film, In The Beginning Was The End: The Truth About De-Evolution is “borrowed” from Shadduck’s writings.

Devolutionary Oath:
wear gaudy colors or avoid display
lay a million eggs or give birth to one
the fittest shall survive yet the unfit may live
be like your ancestors or be different
we must repeat!

Halfway through the Jocko-Homo book Shadduck mocks the supposed chaos and ambivalence of evolutionary science by listing its supposed rules:

1- Be like your ancestors or be different.
2- The fittest shall survive and the unfit may live.
3- Grow big or stay little; either will help you survive or not.
4- That your family may survive, lay a million eggs or give birth to one.
5- Unused organs shall disappear or persist.
6- Rudimentary organs are what you have had or what you will have.
7- Win a mate by combat or not; it will help the family survive, or not.
8- Polygamy will help survival, unless you prefer to mate in pairs.
9- Fight your neighbors or unite with them; one way or the other will help.
10- Wear gaudy colors or avoid display, so shall your family survive.
11- Develop legs, wings, tail, horns, shells or not; they will help, or not.
12- Remember, it’s a THEORY. Don’t let any man see you MAKING wings out of warts or Adams out of apes.

Sounds familiar, right?
Shadduck certainly had a way with words that would “catch on with the kids” a half century later in a way that must make him spin in his grave. It takes a real comic genius to turn a phrase like “you might as well hunt for wild squirrels with a bass drum”! There’s a great website that collects some of his booklets called and another one here. Between the two you can read most of his books and pamphlets.

Shadduck took the expression of his singular philosophy in many directions, some quite off, like the incredibly racist Rastus Augustus Explains Evolution, Rastus being a fictional “Negro” janitor who listens in on ‘enlightened’ college lectures on evolution which threaten to topple his Christian faith whilst his pious, exasperated wife Mammy Lou contends with him. Pretty harsh reading. Interestingly, DEVO also played with racial archetypes, but from the other side, to their credit. In fact DEVO took this concept (the mocking of it) to many more people than the good Rev. Shadduck ever could. It’s incredible that one man’s utterly demented life’s work can provide the basis another’s life’s work (or a group of ‘em), but coming from such a different place in such a different time. Not to mention musical style (although DEVO did flirt with gospel as their Christian alter-egos, DOVE.)

One thing we can all probably agree on though—we’re all DEVO!

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Dove, the Band of Love: DEVO’s Christian alter-ego
01:52 pm



The dawn of the ‘80s was an amazing time for DEVO. After a late-1979 Saturday Night Live appearance made them notorious among the normals, the resolutely weird and misanthropic Akron, OH band managed an actual pop radio hit with “Whip It,” from the Freedom of Choice LP. That song probably remains their best known work among civilians who consider the band a one hit wonder.

Those civilians do kind of have a point. Though they’re inarguably among the most influential bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s, and their still-growing cult is as ardent as any band’s, DEVO would never experience that kind of mass-marketplace success again, and they remain a connoisseur’s buy. But while they had the world’s ears and eyeballs, they did their best to spread to the masses the prophetic, only half-satirical “Theory of Devolution” that gave them their name. One of the funniest moves they pulled to that end was to serve as their own opening band in the guise of “Dove, the Band of Love.” To satirize the devolution-proving emergence of that puritanical, self righteous, money-hungry, and censorious strain of Christian Evangelicalism that was beginning its pernicious spread through American political and cultural life—and which remains disturbingly powerful still—Dove (an anagram for DEVO, if you didn’t catch that) performed tepid, bowdlerized, Jesused-up versions of DEVO songs, wearing cheap leisure suits and accountants’ visors.

Dove’s Evangelical satire was so spot-on that they earned a cameo in the seriously underrated 1980 Dabney Coleman spoof film Pray TV. It’s not unlike “Weird” Al Yankovic’s UHF, but it beat “Weird” Al to the punch by nine years, and it’s centered around televangelism.



Previously on Dangerous Minds
Attention all spuds: DEVO in concert 1980

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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