Gerald Casale famously began conceiving the “Theory of Devolution” after surviving the infamous May 4, 1970 Kent State shootings. Basically a misanthropic philosophy leavened with deadpan absurdist humor, the theory held that despite or because of (it probably doesn’t matter) the march of civilization and advances in technology, humanity was not evolving per the Darwin model, but was in fact collectively getting dumber, more primitive, and ultimately less fit for long-term survival, and that principle (and some very strange books) laid the foundation for Casale’s and his KSU partner-in-crime Mark Mothersbaugh’s band DEVO, who by the late ‘70s became emblematic of the New Wave.
Though DEVO have been only very intermittently active as a touring and releasing entity since 1990, Casale remains a steadfast believer in and promoter of the reality of devolution—and what sentient being possessing a modicum of attentiveness could look at this world and possibly disagree with him? While Mothersbaugh has enjoyed a long career scoring films, Casale has directed dozens of music videos and remained an off-the-map provocateur, spinning social commentary with brilliant conceits like DEVO 2.0 (and, sometimes, bafflingly tone-deaf outfits like Jihad Jerry and the Evildoers).
At last year’s annual “DEVOtional” fan convention, Casale expressed a wish for DEVO to reactivate—though the band has never officially broken up, it hasn’t done anything since a brief ten-date tour two years ago. He seems to have taken the reins on his own, though, as he’ll be releasing the single “It’s All DEVO” on April 16th. The physical release is a Record Store Day Exclusive, but the digital release will be available on the same day, without throngs of eBay flippers crowding you out of the bins. The song seems to be Casale’s way of underscoring his sustained belief in and critique of our infuriating march toward our own ruin via our embrace of idiot demagogues (guess who makes an appearance?) and our all-consuming consumerism.
The song and video are both collaborations with Italian artists—a musical assist was provided by the prolific Neapolitan duo The Phunk Investigation, and the video is credited to the wonderfully bonkers collage artist Max Papeschi (think Winston Smith with a brighter palette) and director Maurizio Temporin. Asked for comment, Casale offered this:
The video for “Its All DEVO” distills the current state of the world as we know it to be down to 3 plus minutes of a cartoon, technicolor nightmare. The transgressive juxtaposition of G-rated Americana, corporate malfeasance and totalitarian horror is as sweet as Kool Aid - thus easy on the Millennial mind and body. Working with the infamous Italian artist Max Papeschi was an exciting collaboration as satisfying as my early DEVO days.
The video is indeed a vivid brainfuck of DEVO references, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sight gags, and slams on consumer culture’s sacred cows, and it’s Dangerous Minds’ pleasure to debut that video for you today.
Friday, April 15, 2016
from Dangerous Minds, a premiere: