Devo Call Rock HOF ‘Strange Organization’ in a ‘Strange Business’
The band is among the nominees for induction in 2022, marking the third time they’ve made the cut. In a new interview with Forbes, the pair discussed feelings about the situation and why their music has a place in current world events.
“I don’t know if Mark and I even agree, but it’s a strange organization, the Rock Hall,” Casale said. “And it shouldn’t be called ‘Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’ anymore, just maybe Music Hall of Fame. I don’t know. But they supposedly award people for having innovated and having persisted through time, and changing the direction of pop music. And in that sense, then Devo should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”
Mothersbaugh agreed with his bandmate. “It’s a strange business, the music world," he said. "It’s like there’s always somebody younger that’s doing it better, or there’s somebody getting more recognition, or there’s somebody older that’s, like, holding on to things too long. And you always wonder or how you fit into all this. So that’s maybe what the good thing of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is – it does give, like, some sort of recognition to a lifetime of being part of making music and for pop culture.”
Casale argued that Devo have "been through it ourselves and we’re in our own lane, and that alone is worth something to me.”
He went on to discuss where the band originally found inspiration: “We were coming of age during the Vietnam War, then Nixon takes office. And we have criminal activity and the big lie and authoritarian right-wing shakedown. We had the empowerment of the evangelical community using television and aligning themselves with politicians.” Casale added that "everything that’s happening now happened before. But now, it’s happening on a meta scale … and that’s what I was saying about our songs. They were written in response to a terrible, tumultuous time, civil war and the culture, the threat of the end of democratic rule of law, and that’s where we are now. So the songs had that intersection with politics and culture and technology, and once again, what’s old is new … it’s hideous.”
The pair disagreed over Devo’s upcoming tour dates. While Casale said he was looking forward to them, Mothersbaugh explained that it felt "like we toured so many years and traveled so many years that we kind of did what we were supposed to do, and I just think it’s kind of odd for Devo to be playing shows this late, but we’re gonna do some.”
Casale offered an argument for being seen onstage again: “I think we have a couple of new generations of fans who discovered us on the internet, YouTube and so on, and they’re just amazed, they’re curious. It’s like we’re a strange curiosity. We can play these strange songs and actually play them live, so they watch us really do this, and they can't believe it because [they think] nobody does that now.”