Devo formed in 1972 by Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale when they were art students at Kent State University. They were both there when the National Guard killed 4 student protesters in 1970.
The band is based on the concept of "De-evolution." The theory is that man has regressed, rather than evolved over the years.
Devo considers themselves more artists than musicians. Much of their concept is portrayed in their videos, which show them all dressed alike, going through robotic motions to indicate that people have lost their individuality.
Brian Eno produced their first album.
David Bowie and Iggy Pop got them a record deal after watching a movie they scored called The Truth About DeEvolution.
" is their only hit, but many of their other songs were covered in the '90 by groups that discovered them. Nirvana, The Foo Fighters, and Soundgarden have all covered Devo songs.
They reunited to play the Lollapalooza Tour in 1996 and 1997.
Mark Mothersbaugh writes music for TV shows and commercials. He has worked on Pee-Wee's Playhouse and Rugrats.
Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale had a small printing business in the '70s which inspired the title of a Neil Young album. Mothersbaugh was wearing a T-shirt he printed for a rust-removal company when Young saw it and used the slogan, "Rust Never Sleeps."
When their songs are used in commercials, the band re-records them so they can keep all the performance rights to the song. Says Casale: "We only half control our songs because of a terrible publishing deal we made in 1978 with Richard Branson, who basically tricked Devo. Our lawyers, who were supposed to be looking out for us, encouraged us to sign this deal, which turned out to be more than an administration deal, it turned out to be a publishing deal when it came to ancillary use, which has to do with TV and film. Every time these things come up, we only control the song for song use, like on a record or compilation. When it comes to synching it to movies and TV, we are now in bed with EMI, who bought the publishing from Richard Branson long ago. They have as much say as us and make the lion's share of the money. We can say no, but we shoot ourselves in the foot by doing so. Better to make a little money for the wrong reasons 20 years later than to never make any money at all."
Casale: "We stupidly believed that laser discs were about to happen because we read all the scientific magazines and audiophile mags and they were saying this was on the verge of happening, and certainly the technology existed. We didn't realize that what American business would do, which is typical of American business and human nature in general, was create 3 competing systems to confuse the consumer and make it impossible to buy a unit that would play laser discs except for that person's catalog. You could have 10 titles that you couldn't play on yours but somebody else could play on theirs and vice versa. Obviously, they killed it, but what we were going to do was put out laser discs. Devo would be like The 3 Stooges, you'd watch these film shorts that were music-driven with stories. We were going to put out one a year, we didn't even want a record deal. It all just became a fantasy, there was no such medium and there was no such market and there was no way to get them out there that we knew of. We started investigating putting out VHS cassettes at the time, but even then, it was a fledgling industry with VHS and Beta competing, 2 incompatible formats that people were waiting on to see who won. Nobody understood what we were tying to do, so they weren't offering any distribution deals for us. So we just gave up and signed a record deal."