Devo plays the Winter Olympics! Mark Mothersbaugh talks about tonight's Vancouver show—and the band's first new album in 20 years
“I love the Winter Olympics,” says Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh. “As a matter of fact, I wish they would hire me to help spruce them up a little bit.”
Well, as a matter of fact—and as the deadpanning Mothersbaugh knows—that is exactly what the Olympics have done. Devo are playing this very night in Vancouver at the end of Victory Ceremony. How exactly did the new wave icons-cum-art project get the plum gig? “We were on a shortlist of bands and, when they priced it out, they found we were the best value per dollar you could get,” explains Mothersbaugh. “They said, ‘Okay, let’s get those guys, they’re cheap.’”
Mothersbaugh reveals the band will perform both old material and new tracks from their forthcoming CD—the band’s first in 20 years: “We are going to try a few of things out on the unsuspecting populace. And we will definitely be looking for their opinion, to see if they think we should keep them, or if these are songs that should be carefully buried out in the tundra while we’re there.” Devo will also make a new track called “Fresh” via the band’s official website immediately following today’s show.
After the jump, Mothersbaugh talks about Devo’s collaboration with Santigold, the band’s new, allegedly bulletproof, stage outfits, and why his Wikipedia page is full of lies!
Entertainment Weekly: Rumor has it, Devo will unveil new outfits at tonight’s show.
Mark Mothersbaugh: I’ve got to be honest with you, it’s not like Devo’s turning into Lady Gaga. The only dfference with the new outfit is, it’s bulletproof. Because the hazards of touring are different now.
I have no idea whether you’re being serious or not.
The bulletproof part? Please don’t test them.
Is it true Santigold helped produce the new Devo CD?
She worked on one of the songs, yeah. She’s really a delightful person. I think, sonically, the biggest difference between this album and other Devo albums is that every producer who ever produced us in the day—from Brian Eno to Roy Thomas Baker—would say, ‘They were really no fun, because they already knew what they wanted to sound like.’ It’s our fault that our albums sounded like they did. [Laughs] Back then, nobody knew or understood, what Devo was. Now, we met all these producers and artists that said, ‘Oh yeah, you guys influenced me,’ or ‘I like this about what you were about.’ People really brought something to it. And that was the first time that ever really happened on a Devo record.
Does the CD have a title yet?
It’s probably got a half a dozen titles right now. We’re employing focus groups to help us. That’s true.
So, right now, there are a bunch of shoppers sitting down in a mall somewhere being asked to choose the name of your CD?
Well, not just shoppers. I mean, there’s convicts in prison and schoolkids in detention. [Laughs] That’s their punishment! The thing I’m most pleasantly surprised about is how much people have grown to accept the whole concept of what Devo are about. I think we can trust people to help us decide what really is definitive Devo. So, if that means used car salesman will have a say in what we’re doing, so be it.
I read on your Wikipedia page that you’re a fan of cricket.
Um…The band? Buddy Holly?
That’s not me. If Wikipedia says Mark Mothersbaugh plays cricket that would be definitely false. I would have it struck, except that I’m very neutral towards cricket. I’m kind of impressed with it in a way. Every time I’ve watched it, it’s baffling to me.
Okay, I’m looking at your Wikipedia page right now. It says that you are “quite accomplished at sports such as cricket and pickleball.”
Pickleball? In all honesty, I did not contribute one thing to that page. Now, you’re making me want to go read it. Because what the heck is “pickleball”?
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Photo credit: Mothersbaugh: Albert L. Ortega/PR Photos