Wednesday, June 23, 2010

(empo-caallii) California music? Devo.

Perhaps this story is fairly well known, but I'll share it anyway. Devo is an example of a band who lives in California, but (at least initially) didn't really talk about California.

The geographical information in early Devo records refers to Ohio in general and Akron in particular. The members of Devo were obviously shaped by their years in Ohio, and a few of them were definitely affected by what they witnessed at their school one day - the school being Kent State University. (Scroll down to the bottom of my mrontemp post for the story.)

But Devo eventually left Ohio and moved to California. And boy, did they leave Ohio. By this time Bob Lewis had been edged out of any involvement in the band, and he got some local lawyers to represent him. Devo also retained local lawyers - L.A. lawyers. (No, not her.)

The move to California elicited one major change, as was noted in these 1993 notes from an interview with Gerald Casale:

On the pronunciation of Devo: When the band formed, the emphasis was on the second syllable (dee-VOE). But when they moved to California, everyone started calling them DEE-voe. So I guess either one is valid. Jerry said that the name is already butchered up so much (being short for de-evolution) that it doesn't matter how much worse it gets.

And there was one other thing that happened when Devo went to California. According to this story about the Wipeouters, Devo actually invented surfing music back in Ohio, back when the ninnies and the twits would toss the future Devo members around Lake Erie. When Devo relocated, the band members discovered a new kind of surfing:

[W]hen we finally did get out to California as Devo, the Bobs said, “Let's go down to the beach and go surfing.” We had heard about the muscle builders at Venice Beach and we figured we could find a few assholes to throw us across the water. We got down there and they were cheating, they were using boards. We were like, “What's that about?” We were again embarrassed for them. To us, it was like using training wheels.
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