Devo plan comeback album through focus group

For their first LP in 20 years, the new wave band are working in consultation with 'content consumers'. We think they mean 'fans'

Devo's first album in 20 years is to be determined by focus group. The de-evolved new wave band will choose their new record's songs, instrumentation, and even the colour of their "power dome" hats, in consultation with the public.

"In the spirit of trying to bring the best possible content to a world that seems to be reaching a boiling point, Devo wants to know what you, the hairy content consumers, really think," explained Greg Scholl, the "CEO" of Devo Inc. "[We have] initiated a series of studies to help the band determine every decision it makes regarding its body coverage, its brand colour, its graphic icons and even its choice of vocal, style and instrumentation on any given song."

Prior to last night's performance at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Devo's Gerald Casale explained the concept to the Los Angeles Times. "It's an art experiment," he said. "The experiment is the business of art. It's always there, but nobody ever talks about it." Besides working on consultations with the marketing firm Los Angeles Mother, the band have announced a major merchandise, tour and album deal with Warner Music.

"It's just fun to use business as part of the creative process, even if it's satirical," Casale said. Devo plan to put the whole process online, revealing all of the focus groups' decisions. "People will see what happened, and then we'll also put out bonus tracks of the non-focus-group-approved music," he explained. "For anyone who is interested, we'd like to let them examine this as an open book. Here's our first demos, and here's the songs that never reached anybody, and here's the ones the focus group didn't like."

In recording the album, Devo turned to a variety of producers who have been influenced by the band. These included Santigold, the Dust Brothers' John King, and Greg Kurstin, who plays with the Bird and the Bee. "[We wanted to understand] their idea of Devo," Casale said.

"Devo has remarked that the typical artist feels 'special' because he or she invents his own world and sticks to it," Scholl said in his mock-infomercial. "Instead, the band feels it's much more special actually to listen to others' ideas and feelings and take them into account."

"Devo is real now," Casale said. "Devo is not ahead of its time. Devo is not scary or shocking ... We're the house band on the Titanic, and we're here to entertain as we all go down."

The as yet untitled album will be released in May.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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