One of the Most Visionary of all New Wave Bands: Devo

The New Wave band Devo was formed in Akron, Ohio, in 1972 by Kent State art students Jerry Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh.

Devo took its name from their concept of “de-evolution” – the idea that instead of evolving, mankind has actually regressed, as evidenced by the dysfunctionality and herd mentality of American society.

See for this for example an interview made in 1983 with Jerry Casale titled “Devo Interview on Night Flight – De-Evolution” on the television variety show “Night Flight“. In this short interview Jerry Casale explains Devo´s concept of “de-evolution” in American society.

Of course one could have the same idea about the German society or any other so called “advanced society” as well. We all live now in technocratic and neoliberal societies everywhere in the Western World.

Devo´s music echoes this view of society as rigid, repressive and mechanical, with jerky, robotic rhythms. The band has an obsession with technology and electronics (the group was among the first non-prog rock bands to make the synthesizer a core element) and used often atonal melodies and chord progressions, all of which were filtered through the perspectives of geeky misfits. In his music and stage show Devo mingles kitsch science fiction themes and deadpan surrealist humor.

The songs of Devo reflect perfectly well my own thoughts on the actual state of our world. It´s a sort of mordantly satirical commentary on our current senseless and meaningless technocratic society.

I saw those music videos of the early 1980s from Devo tonight in YouTube and Dailymotion and I was astonished how fresh and unspent they still are. I had seen those music videos in TV already in my youth (I was born in 1965). They have lost nothing of their sarcastic, ironic and satirical impact.

The song “That´s Good” (album: “Oh, No! It´s Devo” 1982) was performed 5/3/1983 by Devo in the NBC-talk-show “Late Night with David Letterman“.

Lyrics That´s Good

Here comes the original music video of the song “Beautiful World” (album: “New Traditionalists” 1981)

Lyrics Beautiful World

Here comes a live version of the song “Jerkin’ Back ‘n’ Forth” (album: “New Traditionalists” 1981) performed in some US-TV Show.

Lyrics Jerkin’ Back ‘n’ Forth

In 2010 Devo released their last studio album “Something for Everybody“. They hadn´t done a new studio album in the last 20 years. This was for Devo a return into the current music scene.

The magazine “Rolling Stone” made in 2010 an interview with Jerry Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh titled “Inside Devo’s Weird Return“. In this interview both musicians  explain how it came that the band produced a new studio album after twenty years.

Devo performed the opening song “Fresh” of this studio album the same year in the Late Show with David Lettermann.

This is “Devo in The Late Show with David Letterman 2010-06-15“.

Lyrics Fresh

Another good song of this new studio album “Something for Everybody” is titled “What We Do“.

Lyrics What We Do

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