English fan since time immamorial, thanks to John Peel, Mechanical Man and the boys. One listen and hooked for life!
Monday, 11 January 2016 13:31
This is an incredibly sad day for music, and all of us fans of a certain age who have grown up with Bowie always being there. This is the loss of a legend, who's music has inspired a generation.
Sunday, 11 October 2015 13:28
Reproduced from Punk Torrents - submission by The Balding One
Devo Is Dead. Long Live Devo.
Suddenly, '80s cult figure Mark Mothersbaugh is everywhere, from movie scores to TV ads to a next-gen album produced by a little outfit called Disney.
It's the final night of Devo's latest reunion tour, and keyboardist Mark Mothersbaugh and his bandmates are jumping around the stage in identical yellow radiation suits and crimson flowerpot headgear. One of the weirdest groups to rise from the ashes of punk rock, Devo racked up one major hit - the MTV smash "Whip It" - in 1980 and has performed sporadically in the 15 years since its last proper album. But to the audience at the LA-area Canyon Club, the band is as relevant as ever. "How many of you believe devolution is real?" bellows singer Gerald Casale as the quintet prepares to launch into another song. "It's certainly more believable than intelligent design!"
Devo was always as much an art project as a rock band, and devolution was its core concept: the notion that society is becoming less, rather than more, intelligent. The group, which started out in Akron, Ohio, backed up this proposition with pseudoscientific explanations, including mutation, nuclear radiation, and the legacy of mankind's origins in the cannibalistic brain-eating rituals of prehistoric apes. These tales gave the band's albums and videos a satirical edge. But they were also an outlandish way to make sense of the political and cultural chaos Mothersbaugh and Casale saw as students at Kent State University, where National Guardsmen killed four student protestors in 1970. "We wanted to describe what was going on around us, and it wasn't evolution," he says.
Today, the attitude of ironic subversion the group pioneered pervades the cultural landscape, from U2's PopMart tour to the icon-obsessed art of Takashi Murakami. Mutants, malformed and misunderstood, populate blockbuster movies like X-Men. The presentation of rock bands as faceless brands, which Devo lampooned in its costumes and robotic sound, has reached its commercial apex in the cartoon hip hop ensemble the Gorillaz.
In short, the world Devo propounded is all around us, and Mothersbaugh, 55, is providing the soundtrack. Over the past 15 years, he has scored nearly two dozen movies, including Lords of Dogtown, Herbie: Fully Loaded, and Wes Anderson films like The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and The Royal Tenenbaums. He has supplied the music for more than three dozen television shows, not to mention nearly 100 TV commercials for household names like Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Nike, and Toyota. His latest gig is scoring Big Love, HBO's new series about a polygamous family.
At the same time, Mothersbaugh is reviving the visual arts career he put on hold to become a rock star. In 2007, Cal State Fullerton will exhibit Beautiful Mutants, his series of manipulated photographs, with a full-scale retrospective to follow.
Even his band is flush with renewal. It recently extended the brand, helping Disney launch Devo 2.0, an ensemble of 10- to 13-year-old kids who sing Devo classics. Is it evolution or devolution that a band once considered too odd for radio is the latest offering from one of the largest media companies on the planet?
The Sunset Boulevard office of Mothersbaugh's production company, Mutato Muzika, looks like the set of a '50s sci-fi flick - or maybe an '80s Devo video. The building, designed by modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer, is a lime-green concrete saucer. Inside, the receptionist's desk has bicycle wheels for legs, and the hallways are cluttered with old synthesizers, custom guitars, and a battered electric harpsichord. Employees' children and small dogs have the run of the place. In the central studio, a pug trots in and jumps up on the couch, wheezing loudly. "Ooh," Mothersbaugh coos, looking into the dog's eyes like a worried parent. "Do you have a hair ball?"
The Devo tour is over, and Mothersbaugh has traded his hazmat suit for a bright print shirt and settled back into the West Hollywood home he shares with his wife and newly adopted daughter. As he talks, he peers through the thick, black-rimmed glasses that have been his trademark since the Akron days.
Mothersbaugh started making music for television after Devo peaked and began to peter out. In 1986, Paul Reubens, star of Pee-Wee's Playhouse, asked him to write the show's theme song. He quickly discovered that composing soundtracks required a different sensibility than playing with a band - especially for television commercials, where an ad agency's creative director wields more power than a record company executive. But there were compensations: Scoring opened a new palette of creative opportunities.
"On one level, pop music is incredibly boring," he says. "What are the chances that you could do something in five-four time that goes to three-four, then stops and kicks in at three times the speed?"
Mothersbaugh conceived Mutato Muzika as a nom de compositeur so potential clients wouldn't think he was limited to writing Devo-style songs. In essence, he mutated himself to adapt to the new environment. "The idea behind the name, the mutant part of it, is about reinventing myself," he says.
In Devo's heyday, Mothersbaugh and Casale wrote many of their songs only after they had come up with a concept for the video. This talent for thinking visually endears Mothersbaugh to filmmakers like Catherine Hardwicke, for whom he scored Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown. A disturbing drama about a young girl who grows up too quickly, Thirteen was so heavy, Hardwicke says, that it needed a composer "who could inject a bit of air into the proceedings," someone capable of conveying emotion without melodrama. In the first scene, the main character and her friend are sitting in a bedroom, getting high on computer cleaner. "One of the girls says, 'I can hear my brain cells popping.' So I said to Mark, 'Can you make the music sound like brain cells popping?' He used this driving guitar to amp up the tension as you start to understand what the girls are doing." As the two kids literally get dumber, the action and music convey the essence of devolution in a compact cinematic statement.
Much of Mothersbaugh's most inventive work appears in the movies of Wes Anderson. The director is obsessed with music, and the two often spend hours together listening to stylistic models before Mothersbaugh composes a note. For Rushmore, it was the baroque strains of Vivaldi; for The Royal Tenenbaums, French impressionists like Debussy. These days, they're listening to Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in preparation for Anderson's next production, an adaptation of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox. "It's a dark story," Mothersbaugh says. "There's a lot of flesh eating involved."
Mothersbaugh's most striking soundtrack is the music for The Life Aquatic. One of his favorite moments comes when Steve Zissou, a Jacques Cousteau-like character who's down on his luck, shows a young man who might be his long-lost son around his boat. The music swells - along with, one imagines, the oceanographer's pride. "The guy has fallen on hard times, but he's talking about his dreams," Mothersbaugh observes. "You can see he's proud of it."
The ability to express empathy through music might be unexpected in someone who once made a career of mocking contemporary society. Yet that's one of the qualities directors most value in Mothersbaugh's scores. "Mark gets into the heart of the picture and puts forward the spirit we want to emphasize," says Randall Poster, music supervisor for most of Anderson's films. This gives his work a chameleon-like quality; there's no distinctive Mothersbaugh sound. At the same time, his ability to relate to diverse characters gives him the range to score everything from kids' shows like Rugrats to quirky family dramas like Big Love.
Whenever there's a lull at Mutato, Mothersbaugh retreats to his office to draw. He studied art before he formed Devo, and he has never stopped sketching. In fact, he has made several drawings a day for the past 30 years, mostly cartoonish illustrations scrawled on top of vintage postcards. Called Postcard Diaries, these informal works have attracted attention beyond the ranks of music fans, even turning the heads of prominent art critics. "I find his art interesting and challenging," says Carlo McCormick, who has written for Artforum. "His interest in mutants and this kind of freakiness is a great language for people to express their otherness, their alienation from society, and their connection to this sense of difference," McCormick says. "He has all the formal technique, but he doesn't keep up on contemporary art, so he's not absorbing and recycling all the same influences so many other artists are."
Mothersbaugh is currently preparing for the Cal State Fullerton show of his Beautiful Mutants series. In a small basement room adjoining a storage space filled with vintage synthesizers, he shows me a stack of 19th-century daguerreotypes, mostly portraits. He started out using a camera and mirror to make the two sides of a face utterly - and unsettlingly - symmetrical. Now, with Photoshop, he can alter the images in a variety of ways.
The subjects of the photos seem to be deformed by forces beyond their control - accidental irradiation? genetic modification? - yet they remain human enough to evoke a viewer's sympathy. They seem to be pulled between exalting in their difference and wanting to fit in, not unlike characters from a Devo song or, for that matter, a Wes Anderson film.
"It's a sophomoric exercise," Mothersbaugh admits, "but I like it."
Devo never really broke up, and it has been performing more frequently in the past three years. Mothersbaugh enjoys playing with the group, but he doesn't want to record a new album without a fresh concept. One idea: a music-videogame hybrid. Meanwhile, Mothersbaugh is working on an independent project he informally calls Butt Pong - a low-brow Pong knockoff with scatological graphics and sound.
Ironically, the perfect idea to revitalize Devo came from Disney. Devo 2.0 is a CD-and-DVD collection of the band's most familiar songs plus two new ones sung by a group of mediagenic tweens. The studio hired Devo to play the backing tracks and Gerald Casale to direct the videos.
Years ago, Mothersbaugh says, he imagined dressing up other people as Devo. The band was purposefully anonymous, he figured, so why not call in a replacement crew? Devo 2.0 updates the idea for a new generation. "It could be an interesting new way to look at Devo," he reflects. "Or it could be really stupid."
Either way, Mothersbaugh isn't waiting to find out what people think. He's too busy listening to operettas with Anderson and scoring weekly episodes of Big Love. In a devolving world, Mark Mothersbaugh has found a path forward.
Saturday, 29 August 2015 15:32
Happy Days, my Booji Boy Throbble Head arrived today :-)
Monday, 06 April 2015 14:37
Robert Curtis Lewis (born March 4, 1947 Akron, Ohio) is a founding member (along with Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh) of the New Waveband Devo. He played basketball briefly for Bobby Knight at Cuyahoga Falls High School, was a National Merit Scholar at Kent State University, and the first student at the university to earn a degree in anthropology, graduating shortly after the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970.
In 1971, Lewis, along with Devo co-founder Gerald Casale and Peter Gregg, recorded three proto-Devo songs, I Been Refused, I Need A Chick and Auto Mowdown, on primitive recording equipment located over Guido's Pizza Shop in Kent, Ohio. Lewis and Gerald Casale were the originators of the concept of de-evolution, writing seminal tracts in the now-defunct LA Staff, and later formed the band with Mark Mothersbaugh.
Lewis studied poetry with Black Mountain poet Ed Dorn, British poet Eric Mottram and Robert Bertholf, an English professor at Kent who later was named the curator of the poetry collection and Charles D. Abbot Scholar at the University at Buffalo.
In 1978, after Devo signed a multi-million dollar multi-album contract with Warner Brothers Records, co-founder Lewis asked for credit and compensation for his contributions to the band. The band refused to negotiate, and sued Lewis in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking a declaratory judgment stating Lewis had no rights to the name or theory of De-evolution. Lewis then filed an action in United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, alleging theft of intellectual property. During discovery, Lewis produced articles, promotional materials, documentary evidence and an interview recorded at the Akron Art Institute following the premiere of In the Beginning was the End in which Mothersbaugh and other band members credited Lewis with developing the theory of de-evolution, and the band quickly settled for an undisclosed sum.
He wrote and performed as Hurricane Bob on the New Wave Akron compilation album, Bowling Balls from Hell, and worked on videos with New Wave groups Tin Huey, Hammer Damage andHuman Switchboard. In the 1980s, when working as a consultant in Damascus, Syria, he was Middle East Correspondent for Rolling Stock magazine, published by Ed and Jennifer Dunbar Dorn. His poetry has been published in Creedences, Shelley's and the Poetry Review, when Eric Mottram was editor.
Sunday, 19 October 2014 10:17
A Devo sob story. At the begining of this year our best friends said let's go to NYC for a Holiday, the wife and I said yes. This was a holiday fof a lifetime for us, and was all booked and paid for and we had a fantastic time, staying on Maddison just round the corner from Empire State and visiting all the sites, and going in and out of Times Square almost daily. What a fantastic week we had, with a different devo Tee for each day. We get home and I do my usual Devo hunt to find out what's happening and see if there is more Devo "data" to collect to find that there could have been, and this would have been the only way the holiday could have been improved for me, I could have added Devo to the mix. I missed them by two weeks!! Timing X!!!!!!!
Thursday, 31 October 2013 10:04
I'm from the UK, what other countries are represented here?
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 16:09
...you got your copy of Q, Are we not men. I was on Pottergate Norwich UK with Mark Alistaire Roland Keatinge a drummer, after school, on the pavement outside Robins Records. My order had arrived, and it was first a case of what colour vinyl will t be? Sealed in plastic I stood and stared hardly daring to open it, but the prize was mine, a beautiful green platter. Home on the bus and an hour later those four snaps of drum stick on drum stick. I still get a little shiver up my spine, and 35 years later I still get that shiver every time I hear that beat! Thank you Devo. A few years later my dear friend Mark was knocked off his push bike and suffered a severe head injury. Mark can still understand what is said to him but cannot fully communicate. We can still share this memory and a few others. I'd like to thank Mark for sharing this particular moment with me.