The Daily (U. of WA) (?/?/?)
By: Joe Marshall
If it's any indication of their originality, which I think it is, the crowd response to Devo's "secret" show last Saturday at the 99 Club by Sea- Tac was explosive. Tables and chairs were thrown to the side to create a dance floor, glasses were shattered. The band themselves began convulsing after a low-key opening. (Mike's note: This was the Total Devo tour, same as the "Now it Can be Told" disk) It was obvious that Devo could devolve as well as ever.
Seeming to symbolize the whole situation of the band's struggles, however, was some dude that KISW gave free tickets to, who sat in his chair as long as he could, and looked like he was so offended that his chin would fold into his neck and make him choke.
The second some innocent pogoin' dude lightly brushed him, he screeched like a Pod from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", and the fat bouncer would bounce over and smother the hapless dancer.
Kind of like Devo, breaking the ground for future innovations and getting no credit, having some integrity and getting smothered by the satanic octopus of the recording industry.
But biology is destiny, and these Spuds, though unfit, will survive the stagnation and mutate, will twist away the gates of steel.
The Daily spoke with two of the Spuds before the show while they ate dinner backstage:
Daily: How's Dave Kendrick, your new drummer, fitting in?
Casale: He seems like he could have grown up with us. He has a collection of condoms that's very impressive, condoms through the ages, condoms from different countries...
Mothersbaugh: Being from Akron, Ohio, the condom city, we were impressed.
D: You guys went to art school there?
C: Well, at Kent State University there was an art department, which was really pretty good then. We were really only eight hours from New York, and we had a lot of contact with the East Coast people.
D: I'm swimming into some questionable areas, but it seemed like your music used to be very iconoclastic. "Total Devo" seems to be aimed more at the dance market, what do you say? (Both look up at me with different expressions and stop eating.)
C: Possibly the only answer I can give you is that there was no big aim. We've used beats that are supposedly danceable since 1980, but the feedback from the real world is that none of these songs work, theyUre too weird. In other words, it's more than a beat that makes something danceable. The Spuds make more minute distinctions than you or I are making.
D: So, It's not part of an effort to get a wider audience?
C: If that had been an effort, which it wasn't, then we failed, didn't we? We haven't conceived any radio play on this record. They all think it's too strange.
D: Lyrically you seem to be darker, more pessimistic.
C: People unravel what they build up, it's inexorably linked. You see it. There comes a point when that kind of stasis reaches critical mass, that cycle becomes futile. When there are holes in the ozone layer, when the ocean smells like one big turd, when the air is causing lung cancer and 20 percent of the babies born in a California town have cancer before they're three, you can't justify or rationalize any more, you've got to start thinking a new way. We don't see that happening. That's our pessimistic side. Probably Bush will be elected.
D: Did you purposefully tout your new songs as cartoons?
C: In the beginning our humor was on a more energetic, aggressive level that was not silly at all. It was threatening to most people. Now they say, 'fuck, if you guys don't take yourselves seriously, why should I?' And that seems to be the nature of the culture: they want to be told what to do, they want really serious and religious manifestos. We were as heavy-handed in our own way as U2 is today. After a certain point it's dishonest to say the world works that way when you know it doesn't.
D: I've beaten this into the ground, but once again, you aren't going to become like the establishment?
M: We haven't been invited.
C: For reasons that are too complex and varied to elaborate on now, different people at different times get chosen to be the next big thing.
D: It's controlled by the Mob, right?
M: Frankenstein-gangster-CIA-Mafia controls our lives.
C: There are about 10 guys in the country who determine the play list, for 85 percent of all radio. You hear what they like. You'd like anything you heard that many times. You think you like Madonna.
M: We're kinda like shark bait now, bleedin' in deep water.
D: So you're really standing on the edge of a vast unknown...
C: I really think it's more devolved than ever.
D: Who do you think you'll vote for?
C: When the choices you're given are as ludicrous as standing in a barrel full of shit up to your neck and somebody letting you decide between a bucket of boogers being thrown in your face and ducking, I'm not going to participate in that choice.
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