Devo is headed back to the future thanks to new deal with Warner Bros. Records, the group’s original major label, and a series of concerts celebrating a pair of older albums.
The company has announced a “unique, ground-breaking worldwide partnership” during which it will “internationally service all aspects of the band’s career, including recorded music, touring, merchandising, web services, promotion, ecommerce, sponsorships, licensing and endorsements.” It begins with the Nov. 3 release of deluxe editions of 1978’s gold “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!” and 1980’s platinum “Freedom of Choice” on both CD and limited-edition colored vinyl, as well as a seven-inch vinyl single featuring “Jocko Homo” and “Mongoloid.”
On the same day, Devo will kick off a seven-city, 14-show tour during which the group will play each album in its entirety on alternating nights. Fans who purchase tickets to the shows will also receive previously unreleased demos of “Whip It,” “Turn Around” and the original version of “It’s Not Right,” then known as “Red Shark.” The group already performed “Q: Are We Not Men?…” at England’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in May.
Devo’s Gerald Casale promises that the group, which has been working and playing live sporadically during the past two decades is “back in a serious way. We have two audiences now, two distinct audiences, and it’s great. We have a college audience that discovered us by watching YouTube…and we have the people that were around that remember what Devo did to begin with, when we were some kind of cultural icon or…whatever you want to call it. And when we look out at the crowd we see both age groups, which is fantastic.”
The group has plans to release fresh material as well. It released one new song, “Don’t Shoot Me (I’m a Man),” via the Internet in April and previewed two others, “Fresh” and “What We Do,” during concerts earlier this year. The group is also reaching out to modern acts such as LCD Soundsystem, OutKast’s Andre3000, Justice and others, just as it did with Teddybears on a version of “Watch Us Work” for Dell computers.
No release date has been announced for a new album, and the Devo members say they’re considering a variety of options for the material.
“The new challenges…are interesting to us,” says Mark Mothersbaugh. “With the business turned upside down like it’s been in the last couple years, we’re looking for ways to use new technology that wasn’t around when we did this the first time.”
Casale adds that “there are a lot of novel ways to distribute your music without the conventional channels…through mobile means and through the Internet, through novel playback devices, toys…We’re interested in all of that.”
Devo’s tour itinerary includes:
Nov. 3-4 Los Angeles (Henry Fonda Theater)
Nov. 6-7 San Francisco (The Regency Ballroom)
Nov. 8-9 Seattle (The Moore)
Nov. 11, 13 Chicago (The Vic Theatre)
Nov. 15-16 Washington, DC (9:30 Club)
Nov. 20-21 New York (The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza)
Nov. 23-24 Toronto (Phoenix Concert Theatre)