018: Devo - Duty Now for the Future (1979)
"Be like your ancestors or be different. The fittest shall survive and the unfit may live. Grow big or stay little. Lay a million eggs or give birth to one. Unused organs shall disappear or persist. Win a mate by combat or not. Fight your neighbours or untie them. Wear gaudy colours or avoid display. Develop legs, wings, tail or not – they will help or not. We must repeat ..."
— The Devolutionary Oath
Put down the chainsaw, and listen to us — it’s time for Discord & Rhyme’s guide to Devo! You probably best know Devo for their 1980 hit “Whip It,” but that song is only the tip of the Devo iceberg, which is red and shaped like an energy dome. This episode, Dan skews from the standard Devo path, choosing neither their critically adored debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo nor their commercial breakthrough Freedom of Choice. Instead, he guides Mike, Rich, and Will through the album between those two, Duty Now for the Future, a pioneering album in the genre of synthpop, and an example of the gristly “connective tissue” that enriches a really great band’s discography. You might not have heard of anything on the album, but every single song is brimming over with that distinctive Devo identity.
The version of “Freedom of Choice” over the closing is from DEV2.0, a Disney-backed 2006 project where a band of tweens performed Devo’s songs, with the innuendo removed. Here’s the music video, and your mileage may vary on the quality, but they really give it their all.
We touched very little on Devo’s aesthetic, which changed with every album and was a major component of their live performances. Here’s a 1981 concert from their New Traditionalists tour, featuring the band dancing on treadmills 24 years before OK-GO (though not as intricately).
Correction: The 1987 Flintstones/Jetsons crossover is actually called The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, not The Flintstones Meet the Jetsons. We apologize profusely for this error.
As Will alluded to, the lyrics to “Big Mess” (from the Oh No It’s Devo LP) were inspired by a series of letters a writer named “Cowboy Kim” sent to a Los Angeles office that managed local game show hosts' fan mail.
Interview with Mark Mothersbaugh about the Rugrats theme (Mathew Klickstein, Vulture)
Discord & Rhyme roll call
Dan Watkins (host)
Chris Willie Williams
Duty Now for the Future tracklist
Devo Corporate Anthem
S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain)
Triumph of the Will
The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprize
Secret Agent Man
Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA
Other clips used
Jocko Homo (Hardcore Devo Vol. 1 version)
Girl U Want
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
R U Experienced?
Don’t Be Cruel
Smart Patrol (demo)
When We Do It
Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy
It’s Not Right
Mark Mothersbaugh - Thor: Ragnarok
Tegan and Sara feat. The Lonely Island - Everything Is Awesome!!!
Mark Mothersbaugh - Theme from Rugrats
“Weird Al” Yankovic - Dare to Be Stupid
Simon Preston - Rollerball Corporate Anthem
Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Fanfare for the Common Man
The Residents - Japanese Watercolor
Electric Six - Gay Bar
Mothers of Invention - Absolutely Free
Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Peter Gunn
DEV2.0 - Freedom of Choice
Songs we mentioned but didn’t clip
Head Like a Hole
Bread and Butter
Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini
Too Much Paranoias
The Beatles - I Am the Walrus
Van Halen - 1984
Van Halen - Jump
They Might Be Giants - Theme from Flood
Papa Roach - Last Resort
Men Without Hats - Pop Goes the World
The Rolling Stones - Some Girls
Chumbawamba - Tubthumping
Procol Harum - The Thin End of the Wedge
Cab Calloway - St. James Infirmary Blues
The Moody Blues - I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)
Mark Mothersbaugh – lead and background vocals; keyboards; guitar
Gerald Casale – lead and background vocals; bass guitar; keyboards
Bob Mothersbaugh – lead and background vocals; guitar
Bob Casale – guitar; keyboards; backing vocals
Alan Myers – drums
Ken Scott – production; engineering
“Discord & Rhyme (theme),” composed by the Other Leading Brand, contains elements of:
Amon Düül II - Dehypnotized Toothpaste
The Dukes of Stratosphear - What in the World?? ...
Faith No More - Midlife Crisis
Herbie Hancock - Hornets
Kraftwerk - Autobahn
Talking Heads - Seen and Not Seen
Devo - S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain) (this episode only)
Devo - Penetration in the Centerfold (this episode only)
You can buy or stream Duty Now for the Future and other albums by Devo at the usual suspects such as Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon. Follow Discord & Rhyme on Twitter @DiscordPod for news, updates, and other random stuff. Follow Rich @zonetrope and Dan @DanSWatkins. Editing is by Rich Bunnell, and special thanks to our own Mike DeFabio, the Other Leading Brand, for producing everything to a lovely sheen. See you next album, and be ever wonderful.