DEVO (band)

Devo performing live at the Forecastle Festival, in Louisville, Kentucky, 2010
Left to right: Gerald Casale (bass), Mark Mothersbaugh (vocals; keyboards), Bob Casale (keyboards; guitar), and Bob Mothersbaugh (guitar)

Also known as The Wipeouters
Origin Kent and Akron, Ohio, U.S.
New wave synth-pop art punk post-punk art pop electronic rock industrial


Devo (/ˈdiːvoʊ/, originally /diːˈvoʊ/) is an American rock band that formed in 1973, consisting of members from Kent and Akron, Ohio. Their classic lineup consisted of two sets of brothers, the Mothersbaughs (Mark and Bob) and the Casales (Gerald and Bob), along with Alan Myers. The band had a No. 14 Billboard chart hit in 1980 with the single “Whip It” and has maintained a cult following throughout its existence.

Devo’s music and stage shows mingle kitsch science fiction themes, deadpan surrealist humor and mordantly satirical social commentary. Their often discordant pop songs feature unusual synthetic instrumentation and time signatures that have proven influential on subsequent popular music, particularly new wave, industrial, and alternative rock artists. Devo was also a pioneer of the music video, creating many memorable clips for the LaserDisc format, with “Whip It” getting heavy airplay in the early days of MTV.

The name Devo comes from the concept of ‘de-evolution’—the idea that instead of continuing to evolve, mankind has actually begun to regress, as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society.” In the late 1960s, this idea was developed as a joke by Kent State University art students Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis, who created a number of satirical art pieces in a devolution vein. At this time, Casale had also performed with the local band 15-60-75 (The Numbers Band).

The first form of Devo was the “Sextet Devo” which performed at the 1973 Kent State performing arts festival. It included Casale, Lewis and Mothersbaugh, as well as Gerald’s brother Bob Casale on guitar, and friends Rod Reisman and Fred Weber on drums and vocals, respectively. This performance was filmed and a part was included on the home video The Complete Truth About De-Evolution. This lineup performed only once. Devo returned to perform in the Student Governance Center (featured prominently in the film) at the 1974 Creative Arts Festival with a lineup including the Casale brothers, Bob Lewis, Mark Mothersbaugh, and Jim Mothersbaugh on drums.

The band continued to perform, generally as a quartet, but with a fluid lineup including Mark’s brothers Bob Mothersbaugh and Jim Mothersbaugh. Bob played electric guitar, and Jim provided percussion using a set of home-made electronic drums. Their first two music videos, “Secret Agent Man” and “Jocko Homo” featured on The Truth About De-Evolution, were filmed in Akron, and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, the hometown of most members. This lineup of Devo lasted until 1976 when Jim left the band. Bob Lewis would sometimes play guitar during this period. In concert, Devo would often perform in the guise of theatrical characters, such as Booji Boy and the Chinaman. Live concerts from this period were often confrontational, and would remain so until 1977. A recording of an early Devo performance from 1975 with the quartet lineup appears on DEVO Live: The Mongoloid Years, ending with the promoters unplugging Devo’s equipmen

Following Jim Mothersbaugh’s departure, Bob Mothersbaugh found a new drummer, Alan Myers, who played on a conventional, acoustic drum kit. Casale re-recruited his brother Bob Casale, and the lineup of Devo remained the same for nearly ten year.


In 1987, Devo re-formed with former Sparks drummer David Kendrick to replace Myers. Their first project was a soundtrack for the flop horror film Slaughterhouse Rock, starring Toni Basil. The band released the album Total Devo in 1988, on Enigma Records. This album included two songs used in the Slaughterhouse Rock soundtrack. The song “Baby Doll” was used that same year in the comedy film Tapeheads, with newly recorded Swedish lyrics, and was credited to (and shown in a music video by) a fictitious Swedish band called Cube-Squared. Devo followed this up with a world tour, and released the live album Now It Can Be Told: DEVO at the Palace. However, Total Devo was not a commercial success and received poor critical reviews.

In 1989, members of Devo were involved in the project Visiting Kids, releasing a self-titled EP on the New Rose label in 1990.[30] The band featured Mark’s then-wife Nancye Ferguson, as well as David Kendrick, Bob Mothersbaugh, and Bob’s daughter Alex Mothersbaugh. Their record was produced by Bob Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh, and Mark also co-wrote some of the songs. Visiting Kids appeared on the soundtrack to the film Rockula, as well as on the Late Show with David Letterman. A promotional video was filmed for the song “Trilobites”.

In 1990, Smooth Noodle Maps, Devo’s last album for twenty years, was released. It too was a critical and commercial failure which, along with its two singles “Stuck in a Loop” and “Post Post-Modern Man”, hold the distinction of being Devo’s worst-selling efforts; all failed to appear on the U.S. charts.

In December 2007, Devo released their first new single since 1990, “Watch Us Work It”, which was featured in a commercial for Dell.[40] The song features a sample drum track from the New Traditionalists song “The Super Thing”. Casale said that the song was chosen from a batch that the band was working on, and that it was the closest the band had been to a new album.


Alan Myers died of stomach cancer in Los Angeles, California, on June 24, 2013. He was 58. News reports at the time of his death incorrectly cited brain cancer as the cause.

Bob Casale died on February 17, 2014, at 61. According to his brother Gerald, it was a “sudden death from conditions that led to heart failure.”

Robert Mothersbaugh, Sr., father of Mark, Bob, and Jim Mothersbaugh, who portrayed General Boy in various Devo films, died on May 22, 2016, according to the Mothersbaugh family.

Band members
Current members

Gerald Casale – bass guitar, vocals, bass synthesizer (1973–1991, 1996–present)
Mark Mothersbaugh – vocals, keyboards, guitar (1973–1991, 1996–present)
Bob Mothersbaugh – guitar, vocals (1974–1991, 1996–present)
Josh Freese – drums[59][60] (1996–present)
Josh Hager – guitar, keyboards (2014–present)

Former members

Bob Casale – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (1973–1974, 1976–1991, 1996–2014; his death)
Bob Lewis – guitar (1973–1976)
Rod Reisman – drums (1973)
Fred Weber – vocals (1973)
Jim Mothersbaugh – electronic percussion (1974–1976)
Alan Myers – drums (1976–1986; died 2013)
David Kendrick – drums (1987–1991, 1996–2004)
Jeff Friedl – drums (2008–14)

Current and former touring musicians

Neil Taylor – drums (2008)
Pete Parada – drums (2011)
Brian Applegate – keyboards, bass guitar (2014 Hardcore Tour)
Alex Casale – bass guitar (2014 Hardcore Tour)
Ed Marshall – bass guitar (2014 Hardcore Tour)


Main article: Devo discography
Studio albums[edit]
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (1978)
Duty Now for the Future (1979)
Freedom of Choice (1980)
New Traditionalists (1981)
Oh, No! It’s Devo (1982)
Shout (1984)
Total Devo (1988)
Smooth Noodle Maps (1990)
Something for Everybody (2010)

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