Electric Independence: DEVO

Motherboard visits DEVO in California. We check out their studio and learn how these pioneers of weird pop are reinventing themselves for the Internet Age. As the whole music industry struggles to cope with the rise of the machines, and old marketing models go the way of the newspaper, leave it to new-wave pioneers Devo to come up with some kind of a solution: Devo, Inc! Backed by a fancy marketing agency and that ol’ dinosaur Warner Brothers, the fathers of devolution are making a comeback with a corporate guise and a set of focus groups meant to guide their creative process. Says their new CEO, Greg Schott: “Devo has remarked that the typical artist feels special because he or she invents his own world and sticks to it, all outside opinions be damned! Instead the band feels it’s much more special to actually listen to others’ ideas and feelings and take them into account. It’s a brave new attitude that I commend them for.” Even if the irony is thicker than their synths, the super glossy corporate bit is pretty brilliant, underscoring not just the alarm of the music biz but the dependencies of artists like Devo on the Man (see their previous—and weird and wonderful—collabo with Disney). And this is probably not a bad way for the campy new-wavers to recapture the tapering imaginations of kids a) weaned on Lady Gaga and b) who only know Devo because Wes Anderson hearts Mark Mothersbaugh. Armed with new focus-grouped energy dome hats – and fresh off a gig at the Winter Olympics, before heading to SXSW and Coachella – Mothersbaugh and the rest of the gang met Motherboard in their west coast studio to talk music and push forward their ever-relevant message of cultural devolution. Just in case the whole corporate thing didn’t already whip it into our brains.

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