all facts on this page courtesy of simon reynold's excellent book, rip it up and start again: post-punk 1978-1984
when an average person thinks of devo, they think of this:
devo - "whip it"
which is understandable, as this is by far their most popular song. the problem is that since this is probably the one thing created by devo which actually permeated popular culture, i'm sure most people have written them off (as i once did) as one of those forgettable new wave bands who got lucky with a single catchy hit. the reality, though, is quite different: by buying into the system, devo managed to subvert it, infiltrating the system from within and becoming the exact opposite of anti-flag (a goal all good citizens should aspire to fulfill).
justin sane (hahahaha, get it?) knows that to be a true punk, one must espouse facile politics and sign with a major label
as with many "bands with a message," it's hard to differentiate between what devo honestly espouses and what is satirical or ironic; i choose to take everything at face value, as it's much simpler than using critical thinking. devo is named after the concept of "de-evolution," the idea that society has reached its apogee and is slowly regressing to more primal modes of living. devo applied this philosophy by showing videos of penile reconstruction surgery during concerts, wearing strange costumes and selling out whenever possible (i'm not sure how any of these really tie into de-evolution, but devo is cool, so i'll let it slide).
devo's corporate anthem
for me, devo's magnum opus is the video for one of the songs off their first album, "q: are we not men? a: we are devo!" that song is jocko homo:
when i was searching for this video, i forgot the o in jocko, and the subsequent images i saw will haunt my dreams forevermore
all i can say is that if you watch this video to the end and still think that devo isn't as punk as, say, the sex pistols, then you probably shop at hot topic. it's got dudes writhing around on a table, mark mothersbaugh looking like matthew lesko and doing a crazy man-dance, and a class of students attired in surgical garb. this description doesn't do the video justice, so just watch it.
devo isn't so great anymore, because like most bands from the '70s and '80s, the lead singer got incredibly fat.
mark mothersbaugh: waiter, whatever rob smith is having for dinner, i'll take two!
yet their impact still lingers in one important way. back in 1978, saturday night live (only a few years old at the time) wasn't getting very good ratings, and there was talk of canceling the program. then devo came on and delivered the performance of their lives:
by blowing away the audience (both in-studio and across the nation) so thoroughly with their manic performance, devo ensured that snl would soldier on, to a point where it's now impossible to cancel, even though the show has gone completely downhill. so thank you, devo, for giving us jimmy fallon, tina fey, finesse mitchell and every other cast member who truly aspires to fit the label "not ready for prime time."
in retrospect, maybe her parents shouldn't have stopped that dog from eating her face
3 months ago