We are Devo

By JIM SULLIVAN  |  June 17, 2008

What’s the worst commercial appropriation of “Whip It?”
The Swiffer. It’s a ridiculous kind of a mop with some kind of chemical brush on the end that sweeps up dust better than anything else. You swipe it across the floor — you swiff it. They re-used the ‘“Whip It” sound and riff with these horrible women doing horrible dances as they work. It’s so bad we love it.

You initially had a radical sound, but it became less so.
Any band I can ever think of that I loved, like Roxy Music or Nine Inch Nails, has seminal work that’s groundbreaking and mind-blowing and establishes an æsthetic that hadn’t been there before. And they kind of work inside that, do variations.

How did the humor and music work together?
We were serious about our joke. When it came to the music itself, we never treated the music as a joke. Maybe the lyrics had satire in them because we raised contradictions — the world’s a contradictory place. We know that even messages of hope are often cynical; there are hucksters selling false hope to people all the time.

You’ve written new songs, but you aren’t playing them yet. Are the originals reworked?
They’re pretty faithful to the originals. At the time we wrote them, there were definite æsthetic and philosophical reasons why they sound like they do. The beginning was the end; we said that back then, and it turned out to be true.

How will you be attired in concert?
Well, you know there’s nothing like a disposable yellow suit that costs $9. I still like that idea.

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