'80s - DEVO (2013)
‘Devo 3.0 - The Return of More Uncontrollable Urges!’
More than three decades after the release of its visionary debut, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo, and a full 20 years since its last studio album, Devo is back with the aptly titled 'Something for Everybody'.
The long rumored, wildly anticipated album (which was launched with a memorable performance in Vancouver at the Winter Olympics) features the band's classic line-up—Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh, Gerald and Bob Casale—joined by drummer Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails, Guns n' Roses).
Produced by Greg Kurstin (The Bird & The Bee), the album also includes contributions from John Hill and Santi White (better known as rising hip-hop star Santigold), John King of the Dust Brothers, and the Teddybears.
Exclusive Magazine recently sat down with Gerald Casale and discussed the exciting new album, his backstage SNL experience with John Belushi, and, of course, ... Penguins!
Taking it from the top, and being that Devo was formed way back in 1973, just what has kept them together today as a musical entity? "Two sets of brothers can't cut the cord no matter how they may try."
We all know by now where the name Devo originates, but do you still today think that mankind has actually regressed - as once evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society? "De-evolution is a fact as far as we are concerned. The evidence is overwhelming. Imagine if you'd been shown 2011 in a crystal ball in 1980. You might have eaten a cyanide pill then and there!"
When you released your first single, 'Mongoloid,' did you get any flack from sectors of the public re: the use of the word Mongoloid? "Never. However a teacher's organization in London took us to task for singing about someone with Downes Syndrome. They demanded to meet with me, Gerald Casale, the song's writer. I convinced them that I was not making fun of Mongoloids but rather making fun of "normal" people who do make fun of Mongoloids!"
Devo - Satisfaction (live on SNL in 1978)
In 1978 you gained some national exposure with an appearance on SNL ... what can you remember of that time, and have you an stories to tell of that night? "I'm sure if you asked each person in Devo individually it would turn into a "Rashamon" scenario. I certainly remember everything from that time, sometimes all too vividly."
"I was enjoying being part of the cast's usual after show party in SNL's offices when John Belushi burst into the little room I was in with Bill Murray and Eliot Roberts, our manager. I had just unscrewed the cap on the first gram of cocaine I ever bought and laid out two lines on the desk next to the vial to celebrate our successful performance that night."
"Belushi was in his Blues Brother's suit. He poked his finger into my chest and mimicking Curly from The Three Stooges he said "Jerry! Jerry Devo!!! You guys were great tonight!!! I said "Thanks, John, would you like some blow?" He motioned toward Eliot as if to be polite. Eliot waved him off. "I have my own" he said. He then pointed to Bill who just shook his head "no". Belushi looked at me and said "Don't mind if I do" still imitating Curly."
Devo - Jocko Homo (live on SNL in 1978)
"In a flash he pulled a glass straw out of his suit jacket inside breast pocket, grabbed the vial and snorted the whole thing in one long elephant inhale leaving the two lines on the desk. I was slack jawed. He looked at me (still doing Curly) "What, you pissed cause I just did all your blow?" He reached back into his inside breast pocket and whipped out a roll of $100 dollar bills held together by a red rubber band. He snapped off the rubber band and peeled off two of the hundreds. "Here. You want some money?" I said "No, John" trying to be cool. "Alright then" he said."
"He did a Curly hand wave and a knuck, knuck laugh. "See ya!" He spun on his heels and darted from the room. Eliot and Bill started laughing hard as I stood frozen, open mouthed. Eliot reached out and offered me his vial. "Here you go, rock star!"
Why do you think that 1980's 'Whip It' single has still to this day stuck in people's minds as the one and only song that Devo has released - when that's clearly not the case? "It was such a big radio hit that it overshadowed every other original Devo song that received airplay including Uncontrollable Urge, Beautiful World, Jerkin' Back and Forth and That's Good. Also it became a timeless slogan applied to everything from S&M, masturbation, to dozens of national products in advertising campaigns. We were victimized by it's mass imprinting success."
What did you think of the Weird Al parody of Devo in his song, 'Dare to be Stupid'? "The title says it all. That's what we think. But that's exactly how Weird Al made millions of dollars."
Back in the day you worked on Toni Basil's 'Word of Mouth' album (1982) and struck up a personal relationship with her too "Actually the personal relationship pre-dated the working relationship. I was with Toni from the summer of '77 to the fall of 1978. Then she moved on to Spazz Attack. I love Toni. We stayed friends. She's immensely talented and eclectic. You have to respect someone who could choreograph David Bowie's Diamond Dogs" tour, the best theatrical rock show ever, and turn around and create the Lockers and The Electric Boogaloos that changed American street dance forever."
You've worked on a lot of soundtracks, but with a song like 'Whip It,' were you seriously never asked to donate it to the recent movie soundtrack of the same name?! "Drew had approached Mark to score the film but then the deal fell through. After that we never heard another mention of using 'Whip It'."
And, with regard music, you have just released your new album, 'Something for Everybody.' The 9th studio album, the album marks 20 years since the release of Devo's last studio album in 1990! Why the massive delay and what hobbies did you undertake in between? "For twenty years Mark refused to collaborate on a new record. Since Devo was a 50% - 50% collaboration on songwriting, graphics, etc we couldn't proceed with just my half of the engine. I certainly didn't have time for hobbies, other than wine collecting. I was busy paying the rent by directing music video's and TV commercials."
Tell us more about this new album and, especially, the word that as this album was chosen by the fans in an online poll, how the song 'Cameo' made it on - seemingly without explanation. As re: the final poll results, it didn't seem to figure at all! "The creative process of making the record was a comment on the state of the business. The business has imploded and no new model has really taken over. The myth is that with Facebook and Myspace you don't need a label. In reality all the major artists with radio hits are with labels except maybe Radiohead. We needed marketing money to let people know we were back after 20 years of being de-branded."
"WB owned our back catalogue so they rolled the dice. We turned to Mother, a cutting edge Ad Agency and worked with them on a campaign that was about advertizing. We really did all the things agencies do with focus groups, field tests, demographics research, etc. Our label partners sometimes had differences with the ad agency and money of course gets a vote. That's why we put out 3 versions of the record, i.e. focus group approved (did not include Cameo), label approved, and deluxe so you could have your cake and eat it too - hence, something for everybody."
And please tell us more about the Sexy Candy Dome Girl on its front cover! "Mother found her in NYC. Her name is Natasha Romanova. She's a singer song writer who models as a day job. BTW, she's smart as well. It hurts."
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today...and why? "Billy Squire's 'Stroke Me'. Turn about as fair play."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins ... do you? "Actually, I've always loved Penguins. I keep playing a 10 year old video game from KewlBox called "Santa Balls" making sure I score high enough to make the Penguin appear. He's a cute Penguin unlike the Danny Devito's hideously great Penguin character in Batman."
Interview: Russell A. Trunk