Devo is a New Wave rock band from Ohio, known for bringing much laughter and inspiration to the listener. They bear the good news of devolution and perform dressed in yellow jumpsuits with red flowerpots on their heads. Devo has a Christian rock alter-ego called Dove, "the band of luv".
The name "Devo" came from B.H. Shadduck's 1925 creationist booklet Jocko-Homo Heavenbound, where Shadduck disproved Darwin's theory of evolution and gave evidence that the human race was instead de-volving into ape-men, or "Jocko Homos". Mark Mothersbaugh paid tribute to Shadduck by quoting a line from the booklet in Devo's song "Jocko Homo", wherein he sang "God made man, but he used the monkey to do it."
1978–79: Guitar-based yearsEdit
Devo's debut album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: No! We Are Devo! (1978), included the band's magnus opium, "Jocko Homo", inspired by the aforementioned Shadduck booklet, as well as a totally funked-up cover of The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", which is reportedly Mick Jagger's favorite cover of his song. With its unique sound that blended searing guitar licks, choppy percussion, and synthesizers that sounded like an alien spaceship with bad transistors, the album skyrocketed Devo into the stratosphere of success.
Once their position as the weirdest band ever was firmly cemented, Devo was able to experiment with their music and style, soon gathering a mass cult of worshippers known as "spudboys". Their sophomore album, Duty Now for the Future (1979), contained many are-they-joking-or-not references to fascism. "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA", a fusion of punk rock and prog rock with all of the piss taken out, is considered the best song of their entire repertoire by many fans; the rest of the album, unfortunately, makes up much of the Devo's Greatest Misses worst-of collection.
1980–83: Transition to synthEdit
Devo's third album, Freedom of Choice (1980), saw the band moving toward overt synthpop, with less emphasis on guitar. This new direction was exemplified by the hit single "Whip It"; various reviewers wrote that this was a song about pie toppings, sadistic sex, solitary sex, or whippets.
With 1981's New Traditionalists, the band put dogs aside and crept toward serious social commentary. Lyrics such as "We're through being cool" and "It's a beautiful world for you, but not for me" were carefully aimed at all "ninnies" and "twits" not within the cosmic plane of their music, who had merely bandwagoned on the band after the success of "Whip It". Oh Crap! It's Devo (1982) saw the synthesizers tighten their bondage/discipline over the guitars, and lyrics go further toward serious counterculture sociology, such as "Peek-A-Boo" and "Big Mess". In "I Desire", the band got the notion of "hiring out" lyric-writing; unfortunately, their contractor was Reagan assassin wannabe John Hinckley, Jr.
1984–91: Oversynthed yearsEdit
In 1984, Devo released Shout, an album of boring synthpop that led to the band being dropped from Warner Bros. Records. Shortly after, claiming that he was tired of being ignored by everyone, drummer Alan Myers left the band. In 1987, the band released E-Z Listening Disc, a stopgap album of surreal New Age and elevator music covers of their own material.
After getting a new drummer, David Kendrick, and singing on to Enigma Records, Devo set forth recording new material. With Total Devo (1988), the band hit a low point of both boring synthpop and adult contemporary cheese; 1990's Smooth Noodle Maps attempted to steer them back in the right direction, but still ended up as boring synthpop. The band was so ashamed of these two releases that they decided to break up shortly thereafter.
Because of their poor group efforts, the band started up solo and side-projects around this time. In 1989, Mark Mothersbaugh founded Mutato Muzika, a music production company that composes funkadelic music for motion pictures, video games, TV shows, and commercials, most notably the "three Rs": The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, and Rugrats. In 1990, four-fifths of the band (sans Bob Mothersbaugh, who
died got caught in space-traffic on his way back to his homeplanet) appeared in the '70s nostalgia box-office dud The Spirit of '76.
1991–2009: As a nostalgia actEdit
After breaking up, Devo occasionally reunited for the odd vanity project. In 1995, they recorded a new version of "Girl U Want" for the campy comic book movie Tank Girl. In 1996, they performed a reunion concert at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and also performed on part of the 1996 Lollapalooza tour in the rotating Mystery Spot. On these tours and most subsequent tours, Devo performed a setlist mostly composed of material from their first five albums, wisely ignoring their self-parody era fluff.
Also in 1996, Devo released the interactive Windows 95 game Adventures of the Smart Patrol, in an attempt to introduce their music to a new generation of kids; unfortunately, this idea backfired, as the game was really quite boring. In 1999, after temporarily changing their name to "The Wipeouters" and donning radical '90s surf-gear, they performed the theme song to the Nickelodeon cartoon Rocket Power (remember when the Squid totally beefed it?).
Mark Mothersbaugh is an accomplished gallery artist of bizarro landscapes, and since 2007 hosts the segment "Mark's Magic Pictures" on the Nick Jr. TV series Yo Gabba Gabba!.
2010–present: Return to the studioEdit
In 2010, after two decades of banking on old material, Devo finally released a new studio album, Something for Everybody, comprising a mix of leftovers from the New Traditionalists era and new tracks that Devo laid down at Mutato for the newest Wes Anderson movie — and truth be told, it ain't half bad. Way better than Total Devo, at least.
Devo co-founder Gerald Casale married figure skater Krista Napp at a ceremony in Santa Monica, California on September 11, 2015 — the 14th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Both were criticized for their tasteless wedding reception which included a cake made into the likeness of the Twin Towers, and box cutters as party favors. Families of those killed in the attacks referred to the wedding event as "disrespectful", "disgusting", and "attention seeking"; Casale had previously courted controversy by playing in a band called Jihad Jerry & the Evildoers.
As Devo ages, the band members have begun the arduous process of transferring their multimedia empire to Japanese start-up Polysics, though the process was eventually abandoned due to the language barrier, and advances in geriatric medicine.