Devo hasn’t released a new album in 18 years but keeps leaving its mark on popular culture. The 1980 hit “Whip It” has been adapted for a Swiffer commercial (“Swiffer’s good!”) and a musical toothbrush called Turbo Tooth Tunes (“Brush It”).
The New Wavers debuted a new song (“Watch Us Work It”) on a Dell ad last year, sued McDonald’s this summer for appropriating their red Energy Dome hats and techno sound for a Happy Meal figurine, and they’ll be performing Friday in their hometown of Akron, Ohio, for the first time in 30 years to benefit the Democratic Party and Barack Obama.
We caught up with Devo singer/songwriter/bassist Gerald Casale:
Q: What was the deal with the Swiffer ad?
Casale: Oh, that was evil. We couldn’t believe how bad that was. It’s so dorky. We found it really humorous.
Q: Do you worry that people now associate your biggest hit with a floor cleaner?
Casale: Luckily Devo had an aesthetic that had irony built in and self-effacing satire, so you can’t really do a parody of a Devo song without it getting better in a way.
Q: What happened with the McDonald’s suit?
Casale: That was a source of much pain for us, and we dealt with it.
Q: Did they settle?
Casale: It was shocking, and it’s over with, and our lips are sealed, because we had to promise to seal them.
Q: What’s it going to be like to play in your hometown for the first time in 30 years?
Casale: Hopefully better than it was 30 years ago. (Laughs)
Q: “I went back to Ohio, and my city was ...”
Q: Do you think rock benefits actually sway voters?
Casale: They probably don’t. They shore up the base and possibly get some kids to vote who wouldn’t have voted at all. But no, you’re certainly not going to get anyone who likes Sarah Palin over to your side because they saw a Devo concert.
Q: When is Devo going to put out a new album?
Casale: We have all the demos. We have to work on them and finish them in the next couple of months.
Q: Do you think Devo should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Casale: I hate to blow our own horn, but I think it would make sense, especially when you look at some of the people in there.