Devo display the "energy domes" on the cover of their 1980 album Freedom of Choice. Left to right: Bob 2, Alan Myers, Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob 1 and Jerry Casale.
"We thought the things that we'd seen would justify a whole new generation of Bob Dylans or Woody Guthries, and it wasn't happening; instead we were getting disco, and concert rock. Y'know, Foreigner and Styx. Nobody was really talking about the issues, and the arts. We thought, well this is the time for us to do something; to say something. And that's how we began."
"They tell us that we lost our tails evolving up from little snails. I say it's all just wind in sails:
Are we not men? (We are DEVO!) Are we not men? (D-E-V-O!)"
—Devo, "Jocko Homo"
Devo (often spelled DEVO or DEV-O), is a new wave/post-punk group hailing from Akron, Ohio. Most people remember them for their red Energy Dome hats and the 1980 single "Whip It", but their catalogue and achievements extend well beyond that. "Devo" stands for "De-evolution", the band's part-satirical, part-serious take on social and political corruption, bigotry, increasing dependence on consumerism and willful surrender of freedom among the common individual (a.k.a. the "spud"). They were formed by Mark Mothersbaugh, Jerry Casale, and Bob Lewis in 1973 partly as a response to the Kent State shootings (which Jerry Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh personally witnessed).Their sound, practically from the start, was based on energetic New Wave Music guitar work (largely divorced from Blues Rock tradition) but largely brought the synthesizer to the forefront, often in jarring and dissonant ways. Their vocals are of the nasal "geek" variety, and one of the key things holding the entire concoction together was the precise rhythms played by drummer Alan Myers. Onstage, they make use of visuals and costumes that were and still are outlandish. The band's aesthetic blends futuristic, sci-fi themes with primitive ones, emphasizing the role of modern humans as, in their words, "technologically sophisticated cavemen."The band went through a couple of incarnations as time passed by; Bob Lewis was edged out of the band shortly before the recording of their first album, and a couple of temporary members was loosely attached to the group in the early days, but in 1976 a consistent core group was established, consisting of Mark Mothersbaugh, Jerry Casale, their respective brothers Bob Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale (Bob 1 and Bob 2) and a drummer, most prominently the late Alan Myers (1976-1985) and more recently Josh Freese (1996-present).The band had a large part to play in the early days of MTV, since so few bands at the time were making music videos and Devo had jumped aboard the idea well before the market really took off in the 80s. Their first video, in fact, was independently filmed in 1974 and debuted at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 1976. This film, In The Beginning Was The End: The Truth About De-Evolution, contained performances of a warped semi-cover of "Secret Agent Man" and the Devo manifesto, "Jocko Homo" (featuring the repeated chant "Are We Not Men?", a line borrowed from an early movie adaptation of The Island of Doctor Moreau). The film also introduced two recurring characters in Devo media, Booji Boy - "the infantile spirit of de-evolution", played by Mark Mothersbaugh in a baby mask - and his military father figure, General Boy (played by Mark's dad).The band soon attracted the attention of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Brian Eno. They eventually wound up with a contract with Warner Bros. Records, which they later regretted. Their Eno-producd debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! was released in 1978; that same year they appeared on Saturday Night Live in yellow jumpsuits and dark 3D glasses, playing their infamous cover of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" and "Jocko Homo". They followed up their debut with Duty Now For The Future in 1979, featuring more songs from their underground years, such as "Wiggly World" and "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA" (the latter being a six-minute synth-punk fest that only picks up in intensity).In 1980, they broke through to the mainstream with their third album, Freedom of Choice, which produced the hit single "Whip It" and its accompanying video. The new Devo look included the infamous Energy Dome hats, which were often mistaken for flower pots and gave the general public something to mock (Devo always had the last laugh, though).Their increased output and touring schedule gave them a few solid years of presence, but there were always setbacks and controversies. Devo became very disillusioned with their record company, who - according to the band later on - only wanted another "Whip It". Their sound also changed from a punk-ish style to synth pop, which didn't help critics' opinions of them. 1981's New Traditionalists and 1982's Oh No, It's Devo! fared only moderately, despite being accompanied by very high-tech and innovative promotional tours: the New Traditionalists tour featured the band on treadmills while Oh, No, It's Devo! brought full background videos onstage, synced with the band's robotic movements. Following that, they were publicly reduced to nothing, and their 1984 album Shout was their last with Warner Bros. and their last with drummer Alan Myers. Myers left after the album was recorded, citing creative deprivation, and he was replaced with drum machines in the studio and Sparks drummer David Kendrick live.After the band became less active, Mark Mothersbaugh went on to do commercial work and scores for several hit shows, such as Pee-Wee's Playhouse and Rugrats, and formed his own music studio Mutato Muzika. Some of his more recent work includes the scores to all of Wes Anderson's films, The Sims II, and the background theme to the Mac vc. PC commercials. Jerry Casale did commercial work as well and directed several music videos, while the other two permanent members Bob Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale joined Mark in scoring. In what the band would later call their own devolutionary period, they recorded two albums with the smaller company Enigma, Total Devo (1988) and Smooth Noodle Maps (1990), both of which went fairly unnoticed, after which the band dissolved in 1991.The story does not end there, though: Devo reunited and started touring again in 1996, replacing Kendrick with acclaimed session drummer and Promoted Fanboy Josh Freese. That same year the Full Motion Video PC game The Adventures of the Smart Patrol was released in collaboration with Inscape, and it was pretty ill-received. The reunion tour was, however, a success, and Devo would continue during sporadic tours for the next many years to come. In 2006, Devo 2.0, a collaboration project between Disney and Devo, saw the light of day. It featured a band of preteens, playing some of Devo's songs with altered lyrics, as Disney hoped to peddle the band to a kid audience. The old Devo fans was pretty unhappy about this, and Devo 2.0 never really managed to catch on with their intended audience, and when their first album, DEV2.0, tanked, the band dissolved. Devo took it all in stride, musing that the whole affair perhaps was the ultimate proof of de-evolution.In recent years, Devo has been very active. Other side projects include a de-evolved surf album as "The Wipeouters", a country single as "The Big Dirty Farmers", and a Jerry Casale solo effort as "Jihad Jerry and the Evildoers", playing up the blues influence and rendering a video for "Army Girls Gone Wild." In 2010, Devo made a series of YouTube videos, satirizing the entertainment industry's use of focus groups, in order to promote their ninth studio album. That album, Something for Everybody, was released on June 15, 2010 (after a couple years in Development Hell) and it garnered good reception from fans and critics. In 2013, Devo released a remastered version of Devo Hardcore, which included a couple of previously unreleased demos from their earliest days, as well as Something Else for Everybody, which consisted of the cut songs from Something for Everybody.The spudboys lost some longtime friends recently. Former drummer Alan Myers passed away from stomach cancer on June 24th, 2013. Bob Casale, a.k.a. Bob 2, passed away from heart failure on February 17th, 2014.Devo's official website can be found here and their YouTube channel here.
"Tropes Now for the Future":
Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble: Most people pronounce the band's name "DEE-voh," but the band members themselves insist it's "dee-VOH." The latter pronounciation appears in "Jocko Homo", where it can be considered a case of accentuating the wrong syllable to keep the rhythm (we ARE de-VO), and "Time Out for Fun", and is also used by Booji Boy in "We're All Devo!", Nu-Tra in "Nu-Tra Speaks (New Traditionalist Man)" and General Boy in "General Boy Visits Apocalypse Now" and "Duty Now for the Future!", from the Pioneers Who Got Scalped anthology.
All Men Are Perverts: In "Soo Bawlz" every man is absolutely drooling over the titular mistress ("Ain't a man in town who wouldn't have her for his daughter/they'd all trade their brains for one taste of her toilet water").
In "Penetration in the Centrefold" a similar craze happens over a new porn magazine ("All the guys are talking, it's the best they ever found").
Anti-Love Song: "Love Without Anger". "Why fall in love when there's better things to do?"
"Gut Feeling (Slap Your Mammy)" is a particularly biting example of this trope.
Something about the way you taste makes me want to clear my throat
There's a method to your movements that really gets my goat
I looked for sniffy linings but you're rotten to the core
I've had just about all I can take, you know, I can't take it no more!
Asshole Victim: "Jimmy". The chorus is a repetition of "Jimmy's in a wheelchair and I don't care", and the verses elaborate on exactly why Jimmy had it coming.
Author Catchphrase: Several. While some of these appear in song lyrics and album titles, many were established in concert, interviews, etc. well before those songs appeared on an album.
Some of these catch phrases are borrowed from sources that inspired Devo. "Are we not men?" is from from The Island of Doctor Moreau. The De-evolutionary Oath is paraphrased from B. H. Shadduck's pamphlet Jocko Homo Heavenbound, and "The beginning was the end" comes from Oscar Kiss Maerth's book of the same name.
"Choose your mutations carefully."
"Toil is stupid."
"It is not nuclear bombs we must fear, but the human mind itself - or lack of it - on this planet." Used twice by General Boy and once by Nu-Tra.
These have been used for bidding farewell: "Duty now for the future!", "Be happy or not!", and "We're all Devo!"
Jerry: "How many people here tonight believe that de-evolution is real?"
From about 2009 on, Jerry's dropped a variation on the line that Devo is "the house band on the Titanic" in every interview.
"If the spud fits, wear it."
B-Side: "Turnaround," the b-side to "Whip It," is a particularly beloved one, so much so that Nirvana did a cover a decade later.
Black Comedy: Some of their material is funny in a very disturbing way.
Case in point: the music video for their cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced". A Jimi lookalike jumps out of a coffin to play the guitar onstage with Devo, and then goes back in and down. Hendrix's estate's reaction made this video hard to find.
Blatant Lies: In the band's early days, the local clubs and bars in Akron were only interested in hiring cover bands. Devo would claim to be a cover band, but when they actually got on stage, they'd immediately launch into their usual material, provoking angry reactions from the crowds.
While promoting an album from their side-project The Wipeouters (P'Twaaang!), they claimed it was a reunion of a surf-rock band formed by Mark, Bob 1, and Bob 2 in high school. By most accounts the Mothersbaugh/Casale connection is said to have begun at Kent State, making it very unlikely that this band existed before then.
Bowdlerise: Disney made the band soften some of their lyrics for the Devo 2.0 project, often leading to their messages and extensive use of irony getting lost in the process. Go to the Wikipediaarticle for specific examples.
Or perhaps the irony got played up; for example, the execs "suggested" they make "Uncontrollable Urge" about food instead of sex, since it was to be sung by a fourteen-year-old girl, which is an odd suggestion considering how often Devo used food as a metaphor for sex.
Cover Version: They've covered: The Rolling Stones "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!), Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man" (Duty Now for the Future), Lee Dorsey's "Working in the Coal Mine" (non-album single, on the Heavy Metal soundtrack, later added as a bonus track to New Traditionalists), Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?" (Shout), Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" (Total Devo), "Somewhere" (part of a medley on the live album Now It Can Be Told), Bonnie Dobson's "Morning Dew" (Smooth Noodle Maps), Nine Inch Nails' "Head Like a Hole" (for the soundtrack of Supercop).
The Cover Changes The Meaning: Really, their choice of covers all seem to be for subversive purposes, in one way or another. "Satisfaction," in particular, builds on the sexual frustration of the original and becomes a tense rant about consumerism.
Devo also recorded a cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's "Ohio", for When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You'd Hear. Since Casale and Mothersbaugh had actually witnessed the Kent State shootings, they were ambivalent towards the song for a long time, Casale dismissing it as opportunistic and an instance of "rich hippies making money off of something horrible that they didn't get".
Crapsaccharine World: "Beautiful World" describes our culture and society in glowing terms with upbeat lyrics—until the end of the song; "It's a beautiful world for you/For you/For you... it's not for me". The accompanying video illustrates the idea perfectly, starting with pleasant but silly stock footage, shifting to footage of riots, famine and war at the end.
A Date with Rosie Palms: Devo is usually quite blatant about this. Certain entendres can be found in "Praying Hands," "Uncontrollable Urge," and "Jerking Back 'N' Forth." Songs very obviously about jerking the root include "Be Stiff," "Fountain of Filth," and "Penetration in the Centrefold." Time out for fun indeed.
That said, the song most people thought was about masturbation, "Whip It," was actually intended as an encouraging song for Jimmy Carter's re-election campaign, according to Mark Mothersbaugh. Jerry Casale also told that he wrote the lyrics in the style ofGravity's Rainbow, as he liked the way it parodied the American view on self-help. And no, not that kind of self-help.
Demoted to Extra: Alan Myers was made practically obsolete by the time Shout was released due to the use of drum machines, and he left essentially out of creative boredom.
Arguably this happened to Bob 1 on the albums of the late 80s. He himself has said he was unhappy while recording them because he was simply copying the sequencer lines that Mark and Jerry had written for him.
Epic Rocking: The band had a habit of screwing with crowds by playing extremely long versions of "Jocko Homo" - their first performance of the song (partially captured on Devo Live: The Mongoloid Years) lasted over 25 minutes, near the end of an opening gig for Sun Ra where they were kicked offstage.
Mark Mothersbaugh (1997): We'd play "Jocko Homo" for 30 minutes, and we wouldn't stop until people were actually fighting with us, trying to make us stop playing the song. We'd just keep going, "Are we not men? We are Devo!" for like 25 minutes, directed at people in an aggressive enough manner that even the most peace-lovin' hippie wanted to throw fists.
Genetic Engineering is the New Nuke: Turkey Monkey, the villain of Adventures of the Smart Patrol, is a mutant hybrid resulting from a Freak Lab Accident involving Recombo DNA. The huboon from "Huboon Stomp" is implied to have been created through some sort of botched operation, and Booji Boy apparently shares a similar origin.
Genre-Busting: While many of their albums after Duty Now may be accurately described as New Wave or synthpop, the earlier one goes back in Devo's history the harder they become to classify. Their pre-Warner Bros. style seems to defy a specific genre; the band used to jokingly refer to it as "Chinese digital rock and roll."
Intercourse with You: Frequently coupled with awkward, over-the-top euphemisms. Examples include: "Goo Goo Itch," "Clockout," "Pink Pussycat," "Don't You Know," "Going Under," "Race of Doom," "The Super Thing," "Blow Up," "When We Do It," "Part of You," "Please Baby Please."
Keep Circulating the Tapes: The band have generally done a good job of releasing stuff on CD (if often on out of print releases), but two notable aversions are their Doctor Detroit soundtrack contributions Theme From Doctor Detroit and Luv Luv. The band does not have access to them because they are owned by the label they did the soundtrack for, and said soundtrack has never been released on CD. However, the 12" Dance Mix of Theme From Doctor Detroit is on the Pioneers Who Got Scalped CD, because it wasn't licensed for the soundtrack.
Another notable aversion is the demos of Blockhead and Clockout, still exclusive to their self-released Mechanical Man 7", even after several demo collections were released. Whilst these versions of the songs don't sound too different from the Duty Now versions, it's little things like this which drive completists crazy.
Through Being Cool becomes this when you see the music video which depicts 'cool people' bullying nerds in the hope they will become the same as them, so that there are no longer distinctions between 'cool' and 'nerd'. It's the complete opposite of what the song itself is thought of as meaning, which is that Devo want to be nerds and stay away from cool people.
The Merch: They have been called the "thinking man's KISS" partly for this reason. Much of their live gear was made available through Club Devo, and their vinyl albums often came with a catalogue.
Misogyny Song: Some of the stuff on the Hardcore Devo compilations was understandably left off their actual albums since, according to Allmusic, they "come off as the mildly misogynistic rantings of sexually frustrated misfits," like the charming "I Need a Chick" ("...to suck my dick") and "I've Been Refused." "Baby Talkin' Bitches", likely aimed at the Valley Girl or Brainless Beauty, is the most directly harsh: "We do not like you in many ways/We could do without you for days."
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Their more synth-heavy material usually settles around a 3, but their first album is closer to 5, and the Hardcore Devo compilations are all over the place.
Penetration In The Centerfold is probably a 6 or 7, being close to hardcore punk, with frequently yelled vocals.
Morning Routine: In "Don't Shoot (I'm a Man)": "I get up every day/It's a miracle, I'm told/Somehow I live to work/So I hit the road."
Multiple Choice Past: The energy domes have been given various origin stories, with members claiming they were inspired by ziggurats, a Little Lulu comic, or a particular lamp design.
Booji Boy has at least two origins; he is either "as old as the mountains and is yet unborn," or is really named Craig Rothwell and "submitted to a botched operation in an effort to land a media deal with Big Media."
The band's early history is a point of contention, particularly the involvement of Bob Lewis. He claimed that the band's image, concept, and name was his copyright, and offered a tape interview of Mark Mothersbaugh as evidence in court. Both Jerry Casale and Bob Lewis have occasionally gone on record saying the other is lying about who did what. It doesn't help that the first biography ever published on Devo (We Are Devo by David Giffels and Jade Dellinger) had a lot of input from Lewis and was denounced by Casale as "full of lies and bizarre, skewed, reality and just fantasies."
Nerd Glasses: Mark Mothersbaugh sports them, though his frames are actually quite stylish.
Nice Hat: Energy Domes. They claim the domes are "orgone collectors" that gather energy released out of the top of one's head and redirect it back into the body. Mark once said that they don't wear them all the time, but some people do and will probably live 150 years because of it.
No Export for You: This happens a lot. If you are a Devo fan living outside of the US, you will find yourself having to import things a lot. US fans will also have to import UK CDs if they want some of the early B Sides only released by Virgin (The Q&A sessions version of Social Fools for example). The reason is that the band's US catalog is with Warner and their UK one is with Virgin.
Nobody Loves the Bassist: Avoided in 1978 when Gerald Casale was the first guy to get laid as a direct result of the band.
Non-Appearing Title: "S. I. B. (Swelling Itching Brain)" is a peculiar example, as the phrases "painful swelling brain" and "swelling itching pain" are constantly used in the studio version but never combined as in the title.
Off-the-Shelf FX: In some of their early videos. And then there's their "mascot" character Booji Boy◊, who is effectively unnerving specifically because he's clearly a grown man in a creepily disproportionate store-bought rubber little boy mask speaking in a high pitched voice.
It's worth noting Booji Boy represents the de-evolution of Man to Man Child, hence the high-pitched voice.
One-Hit Wonder: An interesting case. Whereas they indeed only had one Top 40 hit in the US ("Whip It"), American retrospectives on one hit wonders always seem to go out of their way to mention Devo's other music, influence on other musicians and devoted fanbase.
Devo's cover of "Working In A Coal Mine" just missed the Billboard Top 40, peaking at #43.
One Steve Limit: Averted with the inclusion of both Bob Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale, who as mentioned above, are referred to as Bob 1 and Bob 2 respectively.
Pep Talk Song: Devo may seem pretty cynical, but once in a while, they urge you to "twist away the gates of steel!"
On Freedom of Choice they were pretty generous with the pep talk songs, whether sarcastic or not: "Whip it", "Freedom of Choice", "Gates of Steel", and "That's Pep!"
"Love Without Anger" could qualify as a pep talk song for people going through a breakup.
Poe's Law: Rolling Stone once compared a Devo concert to a Nuremburg rally. Jerry admitted in an interview that seeing separate reviews dismissing them as "fascists" and "clowns" inspired the band to write Oh No! It's Devo to answer the question of what would an album made by "fascist clowns" would sound like.
While this review of Duty Now for the Future fully acknowledges the trope:
"Triumph of the Will" embraces fascism as a satirical target without bothering to make it sound as if they disapprove.
One of their T.V. appearances was cancelled when the host deemed the "Whip It" video to be offensive to women. Jerry explains in a 1981 interview that "Whip It" is in fact "the opposite of sexist." And while pointing at Mark's dorky suit, he remarks, "I mean, does this guy look like a sexist?"
Though, the track "If the Shoe Fits" off Jerry Casale's solo album is probably the most vitriolic thing the band's ever done. Sample lyrics: "Well I guess you wouldn't know / With your ugly twisted head / Shoved so far up your butt."
Recurring Riff: A brief synth fanfare, heard in the spoken track "Nu-tra Speaks," General Boy's concert intro, and the song "Happy Guy."
Revival: Releasing their first new album in 20 years after several years of almost exclusively being a touring act.
Shout-Out: The song "Uncontrollable Urge" on their first album begins with the riff from The Beatles hit "I Want To Hold Your Hand", and the main riff in the song is from "Misty Mountain Hop" by Led Zeppelin.
The main riff of "Praying Hands" seems to be a shout-out to the surf tune "Wipeout"; likewise is the drumroll in "Clockout".
The "oohs" in "Mongoloid" are likely a shout-out to the "aahs" in The Beatles' version of "Twist and Shout."
Then there are further Beatles references in "The 4th Dimension", which quotes the riff from "Day Tripper" wholesale in the instrumental bridge and "Some Things Never Change", which borrows the opening lyrics from "A Day in the Life".
"U Got Me Bugged" supposedly references a song by The Buggs, whose record Meet The Buggs was bought by a young Mark Mothersbaugh mistaking them for The Beatles.
The middle of "Soo Bawlz" has the countoff, "One, two, three four, tell the people what she wore!" lifted straight from Brian Hyland's "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini."
"Devo Corporate Anthem" and its accompanying video is a shout-out to the 1975 film Rollerball.
In addition to being the band's theme song, "Jocko Homo" is both a shout-out to Island of Lost Souls (a movie adaptation of H. G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau) and a bizarre creationist pamphlet by B. H. Shadduck called Jocko-Homo Heavenbound. Said pamphlet was also the source of four out of the five rules of the Devolutionary Oath.
Devolution was a combination of a Wonder Woman comic book and the movie lsland of Lost Souls. [...] That was various things I’d been thinking about devolution, of going ahead to go back, things falling apart, entropy. It grabbed every piece of information and gave it some kind of cohesive presence- it was a package. Just as our music and our identity exist as technique rather than a style.
—Jerry Casale, 1978
Their trademark "energy domes" are a shout-out to Wilhelm Reich.
The lyrics to "Space Girl Blues" were inspired by an issue of DC's Mystery in Space.
"Baby Talkin' Bitches" transforms the children's poem "Egg Thoughts" ("I do not like the way you slide/I do not like your soft inside...") from Russell Hoban's Bread and Jam for Frances into a Reason You Suck Speech for the Brainless Beauty.
The lyrics of "That's Pep!" where swiped from a poem written by Grace Bostwick around 1919 for American Magazine (re-published in the May 1924 edition of Ohio State Engineer), and then transformed by the band's arrangement into massive Sarcasm Mode.
Same goes for "U Got Me Bugged" (the version without re-dubbed vocals). The robotic effect on Booji's Boy's voice and general lo-finess renders the song completely unintelligible.
Stalker with a Crush: "Strange Pursuit" ("Always kept your distance when you felt my presence near you," "Fly in retreat I would follow without shame")
Owing to the author of the lyrics, "I Desire."
Step Up to the Microphone: Their cover of "Secret Agent Man" was sung by guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh, because he was the most "everyman-looking" member of the band.
Stylistic Suck: One of their demos, "Midget", is used in The Men Who Make the Music as a single by the fictional sell-out group Parcheesi. Rod Rooter asks Devo why they can't cut stuff like that, to which Bob 1 responds, "Well, I guess we like ideas."
Take That: After being propelled into mainstream popularity by "Whip It", the opening track on their next album was called "Through Being Cool".
Devo almost never mentions their satirical targets by name, but made an exception for Jim and Tammy Bakker in "The Shadow." Jim was a televangelist involved in a sex scandal and accounting fraud charges at the time.
Reverend Jimmy and Tammy Belle, Big-time pumpers with a story to sell.
Jerry Casale's solo project, Jihad Jerry and the Evildoers, contains a lot of slams on the Bush era, particularly in "If the Shoe Fits" ("Well, I guess you wouldn't know/With your boots stuck in the mud/And your cowboy brains glued shut").
They Killed Kenny Again: Booji Boy has met many a gruesome end, including electrocution, having his head crushed in a machine, and being beheaded by Osama bin Laden, but he always manages to come back.
The album Devo Live: The Mongoloid Years deserves special mention. Back in the early days, Devo liked to bill themselves as a cover band for Foghat and Three Dog Night, but once on stage, they would play their own (pre-record deal) material, complete with intentionally obnoxious sounds, lyrics, and singing. The last few tracks on The Mongoloid Years are devoted to one of Devo's first shows in 1974, where they opened for Sun Ra as a joke at WMMS in Cleveland. They get a rambling intro from a stoned DJ (Murray Saul), then break into this atonal mess of music that goes on for ages until, after most of the hippies in the crowd had left in disgust, the promoter unplugs their equipment and tells them to get out. John Gorman has offered a rather different take from Devo on the whole incident, claiming that the reason they were booed offstage was because Sun Ra never got to perform, not because the audience didn't "get" them.
On the same album (but different gig), Jerry and Mark mock an audience member for some reason during "Praying Hands", yelling "Hey! Okay, don't be a spud! Don't be a spud! Spud! Spud!", etc.
Uncommon Time: Parts of "Jocko Homo" are in 7/8. The verses of "Blockhead" are in 11/8.
Vocal Tag Team: Mark and Jerry. The Bobs usually provided backing vocals.
Xtreme Kool Letterz: Frequently used in song titles: "Soo Bawlz," "Can U Take It?," "U Got Me Bugged," "The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprize," "Girl U Want," "Luv-Luv," "Sexi Luv," "A Change is Gonna Cum," "Dawghaus," "Luv & Such."
Their cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?" has been variously spelled "Are U" and "R U."
Booji Boy's name was an accidental misspelling of "Boogie Boy" (they were using Letraset to make captions for a film, and when they needed to spell "boogie" they ran out of "g") that they just decided to go with.
1. Wear gaudy colors or avoid display 2. Lay a million eggs or give birth to one 3. The fittest shall survive yet the unfit may live 4. Be like your ancestors or be different 5. We must repeat