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Trivia / Devo

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  • Archive Panic: Devo's catalog is extensive and vast, demos are still surfacing from around the time of their first performances. Both volumes of Hardcore Devo and Recombo D.N.A collect some of their outtakes and demos but several bootlegs are still drifting around, providing the only way to listen to exclusive songs such as, "I Don't Know What To Do-Do," "Toil Is Stupid," and "Polyvinyl Chloride," as well as early versions of "Smart Patrol," "Social Fools,""Jocko Homo," and "Uncontrollable Urge".
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  • Award Snub: The band has never won a Grammy and has yet to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Banned in China:
    • The video for "Satisfaction" in the U.K., due to the Booji Boy electrocution scene.
    • MTV refused to show the video for "That's Good" because of the visual innuendo of the french fry/doughnut animation.
  • Big Name Fan:
    • David Bowie and Iggy Pop discovered them after a screening of "The Truth about De-evolution".
    • Mick Jagger was said to have loved Devo's version of "Satisfaction", although accounts sometimes differ as to whether or not his reaction was genuine or staged by his management. When BBC asked about his favorite covers in 2007, he mentioned the versions by Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and Britney Spears - seemingly forgetting about Devo altogether.
    • John Lennon was also a fan, according to Mark.
    • Tony Hawk is also a fan as evidenced by him urging his fans to vote for the band to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame on Twitter. And also Mark being present at Tony's 50th birthday celebration.
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    • Henry Rollins has been a fan since high school. He says that whenever he worked in the science lab there he'd always write "Devo" on the uniform he was given because it "looked like something the band would wear".
  • Creator Backlash: They're not proud of the Enigma years, i.e. Total Devo and Smooth Noodle Maps, which are both out of print and not on streaming services. On the DVD commentary for The Complete Truth About Devolution, Jerry and Mark have some pretty choice words about that label.
  • Development Hell: The band has occasionally announced multi-media projects in the works which have not come to light due to lack of financing and so on. These include: a Devo biopic based on their early days in Ohio, a Devo musical set in their fictional universe of Spudland, and re-releases of their old video L Ps.
    • Something For Everybody had some delays in the making and release, including a brief period where Mark had reportedly stalled the project and Jerry claimed there would be no new album.
    • Jerry expressed hope to release an "official" biography of the band back when the first unofficial biography was published in 2003. It seems that this idea has finally resurfaced, with Jerry stating on Reddit that an official book is on the way soon. He may have been referring to the book Freedom of Choice by Evie Nagy (part of the 33 1/3 series), released in May 2015, which focuses primarily on the Freedom of Choice album but provides some biographical info and interviews. It is the first authorized book published about Devo.
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    • A Devo documentary featuring extensive interviews and archival footage has been in the works since 2009, and after many delays and a Kickstarter campaign it was reportedly nearly ready for release. When someone asked Jerry about the status of the documentary on Twitter, he simply said, "A very good question. Perhaps you should ask Mark", hinting at further delays. Jerry finally confirmed in a September 2015 interview that the filmmakers are waiting for Mark to approve the final cut and supposedly an agreement has been very difficult to reach. At this stage it is not known if we will see the film at all.
    • Total Devo was in development for quite some time, being worked on for over two years and delayed for months due to getting dropped by their label and their drummer leaving.
    • Two of the group's songs "Huboon Stomp" and "The Words Get Stuck In My Throat" were performed live regularly in the late 70s but were not studio recorded until 1998 (Chef Aid Soundtrack) and 2000 (Pioneers Who Got Scalped) respectively. They sound surprisingly similar to the originals.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: A musical version from the "Oh No It's Devo" sessions - the instrumental of "Faster And Faster" originally had the lyrics of "Luv Luv" (as heard on leaked demos). Later on in these sessions they wrote the "Faster And Faster" lyrics, and when it came to producing an additional track for the Dr Detroit soundtrack, took an unused instrumental from the "Oh No" sessions and put the "Luv Luv" lyrics on it. It took them until the late 90s to put out "Faster And Faster", as part of the videogame "Interstate '82" and later the "Recombo Dna" compilation.
  • Executive Meddling: Happened with both versions of the "Post Post-Modern Man" video: First Jerry directed a video revolving around the concept of the band driving around Interstate 10 in Southern California and getting lost, which the label rejected, insisting they add a Playboy Playmate Of The Month (Deborah Diggs). So, the band added her to the original video by filming a subplot where she was waiting for the band to come home... Then MTV rejected the video for airplay, because it used a dance mix of the song instead of the album version, which featured more guitar and was thus considered easier to market to an Alternative Rock audience. By then Devo were too busy promoting Smooth Noodle Maps to make or appear in a video themselves, so Rocky Shenck made a video parodying the Home Shopping Network, where Devo only appeared via footage from their other videos.
  • Fan Community Nickname: Spuds, Devo-tees, and occasionally Beautiful Mutants.
  • Fan Nickname: Spudboys.
  • He Also Did: It's hard to name a well known band that Josh Freeze hasn't drummed for in his career.
  • 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.
    • The "Dr. Detroit" video, wherein the band members perform a lot of highly experimental blue-screen tomfoolery was not at any point included in The Complete Truth About De-Evolution collection, not even on the VHS version. The DVD version of The Complete Truth leaves off "Are You Experienced?", with a bitter footnote on the back explaining that the Hendrix estate denied them permission.
    • Devo released two home videos in the 80s, The Men Who Make the Music and We're All Devo, which have not appeared in print since.
    • The albums Total Devo and Smooth Noodle Maps have been out of print for a while since Enigma Records went under. The Rykodisc-released Devo Live: the Mongoloid Years is also out of print.
    • Booji Boy's book My Struggle is somewhat hard to find in hard copy.
  • 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.
  • Missing Episode: The only professional footage of the New Traditionalists tour was destroyed in an insurance claim. The 3-Devo concert special met a similar fate, but has survived in low-grade bootleg form.
    • Parts of the original footage of "Worried Man" from Human Highway have been lost, as the edit in the movie had lots of cutaways and not all of the song was included. When the scene was edited together as a single music video for The Complete Truth About De-Evolution they had to incorporate a scene of Rod Rooter and Donut from We're All Devo so that they could cut back to Rod's annoyed reactions where there's no footage to show.
  • 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.
  • Old Shame:
    • The Enigma Records years, as mentioned above, are this, though since they finally re-released Total Devo in 2018, this might be turning around.
    • Also, Shout, recorded mostly with a Fairlight synthesizer and released in 1984, was a flop, and Warner Brothers dropped them shortly after release. Drummer Alan Myers quit during the making of the album, feeling that his role in the band had been reduced due to all the drum machines. Devo have been pretty open about their dissatisfaction with Shout, with Jerry Casale once saying it was "painful to talk about." Only on rare occasions did the Title Track and "Here To Go" make concert setlists.
  • One-Hit Wonder: An interesting case. Whereas they indeed only had one Top 40 hit in the US ("Whip It" from Freedom of Choice), 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.
  • The Pete Best: Bob Lewis - who played guitar in the first few years of the band, co-wrote some material, and (according to him) later acted as their manager until they signed with Warner Bros. - was supposedly edged out of the band shortly before the release of Q/A. Demanding credits for his contributions, he successfully sued Warner Brothers Records and the band for an undisclosed sum. Perhaps due to their legal history, he is rarely mentioned in Devo media, although in a few more recent interviews they may have acknowledged his involvement, if not by name, in the early development of the Devo concept.
    • To a lesser extent there's Jim Mothersbaugh (brother of Mark and Bob 1), who built and played the "electronic bongos" for Devo before Alan joined as drummer. Jim then left the band to pursue a career in electronics, working with Roland in the 80s.
      • Though Jim did tour with the band in 1980 as an equipment technician, making sure their broken synthesizers stayed properly broken.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Josh Freese started his drumming career by playing along to Devo records.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The crowd rushing the stage at the end of the "Come Back Jonee" video was unscripted.
    • 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.
  • Technology Marches On: These days, thanks to the Internet, Cowboy Kim probably would actually have a radio show.
  • Trolling Creator: Many of their antics are designed to piss off the audience.
    • The infamous Song Study campaign is this.
    • 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.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • In January 1978, Virgin Records founder Richard Branson tried to suggest Devo install Sex Pistols singer John Lydon as their lead singer. Lydon had just quit the Pistols at the end of their American tour, and Branson had arranged his flight back home on the condition he meet him and Devo in Jamaica first. The members of Devo briefly considered answering in the affirmative, more out of amusement than anything, but ultimately decided against it. Lydon, too, was against the idea because he didn't want to impose himself on already established band. For what it's worth, this suggestion may not have been so far out, especially since Lydon formed Post-Punk legends Public Image Ltd. shortly afterwards.
    Jerry Casale: [It] was an absolutely stupid idea. We were a unit. Five punk scientists with a plan. We didn't need a guy who didn't realize anarchy and rebellion were obsolete except as cartoon consumer hooks.[1]
    • The Men Who Make the Music was a contender for the first video LP ever but fell behind the race apparently due to delays by the label, who objected to its anti-music industry content.
    • The album Shout was to have a video LP and a full-blown tour similar to Oh, No! It's Devo, but neither went beyond the planning stages after Devo was dropped by Warner Bros.
    • At one point during the demo stage of Something For Everybody there was a song called "Whip It Again." Apparently the band had disagreements over whether they wanted to release it until Jerry rewrote the lyrics entirely and it became "Sumthin'."
    • Q: Are We Not Men... originally had some additional keyboard parts by Brian Eno and backing vocals by David Bowie - due to paranoia about Executive Meddling, the band left these contributions out of the final mix, but Mark Mothersbaugh has the original 24 track master tapes including these unused parts. In general, the band have said Eno had a lot of ideas for synth parts and studio effects that they didn't use, because at the time they were adamant about making the songs sound similar to their original self-produced demos.


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