Legendary art rock band Devo will perform live at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver on Feb. 22 during a Victory Ceremony, which will be the band’s first network broadcast performance in 20 years. Devo will be one of 15 headlining acts, including Feist, Usher and the Fray, who will each perform one night at the Whistler Victory Ceremonies between Feb. 13 and 27.
The internationally televised performance comes as Devo prepares to release its first studio album since 1990. Partnering with their original label Warner Bros. and ad agency Mother, the band is taking a consciously ironic ultra-corporate approach to the release, including focus-grouping every aspect of the album’s marketing. They’ll also use the Olympics performance to reveal a new look, including a possibly shocking new color scheme for their iconic yellow hazmat suits and red “energy dome” hats.
Devo co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh gave Billboard.com the scoop.
Billboard: How did the opportunity to perform at the Winter Olympics come your way, and why did you think it was a good platform for your first televised performance in 20 years?
Mark Mothersbaugh: I think they did a focus group, they interviewed every single person who watches Olympics and asked them who they’d like to see perform at the Victory party, and we were one of the contenders. And they could afford us. Also, we just figured given the state of security in the world these days it’s probably safer to be playing instruments on stage than to be competing, so that’s what led to this. Our tobogganing days are over.
BB: What can you tell us about the new look you’ll reveal at the performance?
MM: We will be wearing the new Devo safety wear. It will still repel dangerous liquid spills and industrial chemicals, so from that point of view it’s kind of like the yellow suits that we started off with. They don’t make those suits the way they used to. I don’t know what happened, but the companies that make Tyvec must have sent their companies overseas to places where people don’t respect the craftsmanship that goes into industrial waste cleanup suits. So it’s all U.S. made, these outfits.
BB: And what about the new colors? Is it still Devo without red hats?
MM: We’d been getting some reports back that red might not be the safest color for an energy dome. People have been pulled over for impersonating peace officers when they put them on the rear deck of their car. It looked like they were putting patrol lights on their car. So we’d had reports that people were getting stopped for no good reason. Blue just seemed to be a safer color, allow people to focus and be more peaceful.
BB: So, the new hats will be blue?
MM: Oh, my god. So, uh, there will be a color change.
BB: Ha. Moving on, what will you be playing at the Olympics?
MM: We will be playing tried and true material from the catalog, but we will inject some special vitamin-enriched new material from the upcoming album.
BB: What is your favorite winter sport?
MM: All of them have room for improvement if you ask me. I think just about every winter sport would stand to gain a lot more interest if you introduce some of the basic tenets of miniature golf into it. Say if a guy goes down a big long ski run, then he goes up in the air and he does that thing where he goes up in the air and he looks like a tin man for a long time. What if, he had to go through a windmill that was right at the very top of the ski jump. You get what I’m saying right?
BB: Like a giant clown’s mouth?
MM: Right exactly. And with the toboggan, there’s no loop-di-loops. Why? You should come out of one of three shoots but you don’t know which one. Don’t you think it would be so much more interesting? Then just everyone in the world would watch the Winter Olympics.