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LAist Interview: Jerry Casale of Devo

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When Devo first appeared on the scene in 1978 (1977, if you were hip enough to be at a punk show where their independent film/ music video “The Truth About De-Evolution” was screened in between bands), there was nothing remotely like them under the sun. In a heavily macho scene, they offered a stiff, robotic alternative. Highly conceptual, wickedly funny, and possessed with a knack for garage-rock riffs, which were then mangled by machinery like a thumb under a drill press, it was Poindexter Rock that could also get you to move your ass.

Their debut album Q: Are We Not Men? We Are Devo set such a high standard for deranged yet irresistible songwriting that the rest of their career seems to bear out their theoretical premise: at some point, man reaches an inevitable evolutionary peak, and then it’s all downhill from there. The marketplace would say that peak took place with their third album, 1980’s Freedom Of Choice, which produced “Whip It,” the song for which some people inexplicably consider them a one-hit wonder band. It’s still a fine, subversive album, even as it sets the stage for eighties-new-wave as we know it by trading out synthesizers for guitars as the primary voice.

This week, the band is in town performing these two seminal albums in their entirety at the Music Box and celebrating the reissues of both. The original LPs are padded out with live tracks, but the major attraction is the remastering job on the studio tracks, which sound better than ever.