Oh No, It's Devo! (What Was Up With Those Weird Art Punks From Ohio?)

By | May 17, 2021

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Devo performs at the Phoenix Theater in August 1980 in Petaluma, California. (Photo by Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images)

Devo was never your typical rock band -- combining philosophical ideas and silly antics, they walked the fine line between performance art and rock 'n roll. They even had a hit, the MTV favorite "Whip It," which reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. But even that video was weird -- weird even by the standards of early '80s MTV. There's a lot to unpack when it comes to Devo. Whether you remember them with a chuckle or have never seen the appeal, this might help you to at least get where they were coming from -- join us as we take a peek beneath those crazy red "energy hats" they wore.

Devo's Origin Story

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Source: (watchmojo.com).

Evolution, of course, is the idea that species have adapted and changed over time. The opposite of this, de-evolution, is the notion that they can revert to a more primitive form over time. And the concept of de-evolution gave Devo its name, as the band arose from the notion that mankind was regressing. The evidence of this was in American society. The concept was created by Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis, two Kent State art students in the 1960s. It was, however, a joke at the time. 

When Casale came up with the idea, he was also in a band, 15-60-75, aka, The Numbers Band, where he met Mark Mothersbaugh around 1970. At the time, Mothersbaugh was with the band Flossy Bobbitt. On May 4, 1970, the Kent State shootings occurred, providing the impetus for the formation of Devo. Part of the band’s philosophy was that modern technology had a dehumanizing effect, and that influenced their sound, which was mechanical, including a drum machine, which was invented by Bob Mothersbaugh. The philosophy influenced their movements during performance as well as their matching industrial jumpsuits.