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23 August 2023

Devo On Jamming With Bowie “Somewhere There’s A Tape Of That”

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Devo have spoken about their relationship with David Bowie and revealed that they took part in an all-star jam session with the singer in an interview in The Guardian.

Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh recalled the moment that Bowie introduced them on stage as “the band of the future” at a 1977 gig at Max’s Kansas City, New York, and said he would be producing them in Tokyo soon. “We were sleeping in a van in front of the club that night,” Mothersbaugh said. “So it was like, yeah, we’ll gladly go to Japan.”

Mothersbaugh also remembered a jam at producer Conny Plank’s studio in Germany, ““Eno, Bowie, Dieter Moebius [of krautrock band Cluster] and Holger Czukay [of Can] all jammed on Devo songs with us. Somewhere there’s a tape of that.”

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Bowie wasn’t Devo’s only famous admirer, in 1977 Neil Young asked Devo to be involved in his experimental film Human Highway (released in 1982). “I never would have expected it,” laughed Gerard Casale. “We thought: Neil Young? That’s the grandfather of granola rock. But he was very cool and excited; he was really into Devo, even though stylistically we were planets apart.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Casale remembered Devo’s initial reception, “Talk about being hated. We were either laughed at, people felt sorry for us or they wanted to kill us. It would really piss people off. We were physically attacked on stage, forced to stop playing, promoters would unplug us. One of our biggest triumphs in the early days was being paid $50 to quit.”

Devo are currently on their farewell tour after announcing they were quitting live shows 50 years after they started. Casale reflected “I’m in denial, because I love performing and I’ll hate to see it go. It was part of Devo’s DNA. But we did as well as we could, for as long as we could.”

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