Devo is “back in a serious way” and is spreading the word to that effect this week at the South By Southwest Music & Media Conference.
“It was now or never,” Gerald Casale told Billboard.biz during a press conference on Thursday, just prior to a panel discussion about the group’s history. The quintet is slated to perform on Friday at the Austin Hall. “It seems de-evolution is real. It seems like it’s no longer a theory, and after hatching this about 30 years ago as an art school joke, it’s now an all too hideous reality, so we’re just here to entertain everybody who’s as devolved as we are now.”
Casale said that the group is “creating a lot of new content on a lot of fronts,” including new songs that will manifest in the first Devo album in almost two decades later this year. Before that, however, he said the group might “release things in novel, interesting, exciting ways, in clusters…We’re exploring all the new avenues for doing that.” A documentary film is also in the works.
The music, Casale said, is “back to just being us, ’cause it’s stupid to try to be anything else.” New titles include “Don’t Shoot I’m a Man,” “Fresh” and “What We Do” – which he called “a manifesto like ‘Jocko Homo'” – and after collaborating with Teddybears on a remake of “Watch Us Work” for Dell computers, Casale said Devo is reaching out to LCD Soundsystem, Andre3000, Justice and others.
While the group is “still working on” its plans for new music and video material, Mark Mothersbaugh said that Devo – which also includes original members Bob Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale, with 13-year “newcomer” Josh Freese on drums – is excited about the possibilities. “It’s the stuff we always talked about and we had no audience with our managers and record companies (and) agents back in the day,” he said. “They didn’t want to know about movies or TV shows or games or toys. They only knew one way to market music, so this is something new now.”
On Thursday the group sported what it referred to as “Devo cosmonaut outfits” – red jumpsuits with the familiar red flower pot “Freedom of Choice” hats, though it said its planning other outfits for the near future. It also intendes its current reunion to remain an active, ongoing concern for the foreseeable future.
“We’re like the house band on the Titanic now,” Casale said. “We’re your friends, and we’re gonna play ’til we all go down.”