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SXSW: Devo about 'halfway through' new album

March 19, 2009 |  4:54 pm

Markmo300_3 Devo's Gerald Casale said at a South by Southwest panel that the group has recorded between "18 and 20" songs and that it's about "halfway through" a new album. The act played an animated video for the new song "Don' Shoot, I'm a Man," and will perform more new offerings at its SXSW showcase Friday evening in Austin.

Asked by moderator and former KCRW-FM (89.9) music director Nic Harcourt to describe the new song, Casale said the anti-war message of the tune was representative of the political direction of the forthcoming material. Said Casale, "It’s our humanistic plea in a world that has become so dangerous ...This is just our reminder to not go down without a fight."

The new album will be Devo's first in nearly 20 years, and was recorded with former Nine Inch Nails drummer Josh Freese. Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh, who founded the band after meeting at Kent State in the early '70s, did most of the talking at the Tuesday panel, the last of the day before South by Southwest sets aside the industry panels for an evening of showcases.

Casale said the act was motivated to record as much by the political climate as the cultural one. "We’re hearing a lot of music we like stylistically," Casale said, "and by a lot of people who say they’re influenced by Devo ... but it’s all style. What I hear missing is Devo content. There are a lot of people who sing a lot more notes than us and play a lot more notes than us and are young and handsome, but they don’t have Devo content."

Mothersbaugh said an official album will be released, but only after the songs have appeared either online or as individual, collectible singles. However, the formal release plan or schedule doesn't appear to have been finalized. "Maybe [we'll release] a box of 12 suppositories, where each one is a different song," he joked.

Harcourt used much of the panel to discuss Devo's early days, and dealings with the record business. Casale and Mothersbaugh talked about how the group's relationship with Warner Bros. deteriorated after the 1980 smash "Whip It."

"They all of a sudden took an interest in us, which was probably not a great thing for us," Mothersbaugh said. "When we got into the studio for our fourth album, they would say, ‘Do whatever you guys want to do -- just do another 'Whip It'."

--Todd Martens

Photo of Mark Mothersbaugh in 2004 by Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times