Devo may have been something of an odd duck in Akron, Ohio, during the mid-’70s, and the band members left the Buckeye State by 1978, when the group signed with Warner Bros. Records. But co-frontman Gerald Casale still feels home-state pride for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA championship victory over the Golden State Warriors — and Cleveland’s first major sports title in 52 years.
“I just think it’s a good thing and they deserve it — for [the Cavaliers] and for Cleveland,” Casale tells Billboard.
Casale himself did not become a basketball fan until after graduating college, but growing up rooting for the Cleveland Indians in baseball and the Browns in football, he definitely identifies with the city’s other long-suffering fans.
“Oh yeah, it was pretty bleak. It was really bleak,” says Casale, who spoke with family members back in Ohio during the third quarter of Sunday’s game. “I remember my father would take me to games and we’d watch the Indians get beat all the time. I just think the fact that all the sports pundits started prognosticating early on, ‘Hey, no team’s ever come back from being down 3-2, so forget it everybody.’ That almost assured the jinx was in, that the Warriors would be cursed. And sure enough, you saw something happen in Game 5 that turned it all around.”?
Pleased as he is with the outcome, however, Casale would not have been deflated if the Warriors had prevailed either.
“There were no bad guys here. I happen to like both teams — just two extremely different styles of basketball,” he says. “Any officiating controversies aside, which is always hovering like a shadow over all this stuff, there was equal parts greatness on the Cavaliers’ part and running out of gas on the Warriors’ part that allowed Cleveland to finally realize something it had been denied for half a century. In the end, they wanted it more and played harder to get it. I’ve never seen a team and a man [LeBron James] need and want something that much.”?
Don’t look for Devo to being playing any victory parties back home, however. The group has been dormant since 2014, mostly because Mark Mothersbaugh refuses to play shows, according to Casale, who released a Record Store Day single, “It’s All Devo,” in April and makes a wine brand called 50 by 50. “We get lucrative offers all the time,” Casale notes. “But the first thing [Mothersbaugh] took off the table was playing shows — which for a legacy act is the mother lode. The offers are tremendous.” ?
Would an invitation from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert change the tide, maybe? “I don’t know, but that would be wonderful,” Casale says, predicting that he, guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh and drummer Josh Freese, at least, “would be there in a minute.”