New wave pioneers Devo were considered ahead of their time when they recorded the 1980 song “Whip It”. Now – 42 years later – they’re wondering if the seemingly silly video for that hit song would be considered too risque.
“I have a feeling that would be a problem,” co-founder Gerry Casales told the Daily News.
The low-budget video featured band members wearing “Energy Dome” hats that looked like flowerpots while a mother figure baked a pie, cowboys and cowgirls made out and vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh undressing a female mannequin with a bull whip in a yard.
“We thought it was absurd satire – it was humor,” Casales said. “We were seeing videos where there was definite sexism, where it was serious, like videos of Rod Stewart and others with metal hair bands grabbing a woman’s ass when she was wearing leather pants. Molding PVC.”
The 73-year-old bassist said that in the context of “woke culture” and “#MeTooCulture”, music fans might misinterpret the purpose of their absurd video.
“It’s really sad that the video is becoming problematic because it means there’s no humor in it,” he said. “There are the American Taliban, who don’t even see the difference between humor and sexism.”
Mothersbaugh joked that if Devo did “Whip It” now, maybe they’d focus on pop culture touchstones that are seemingly more palatable, like gun violence and sedition.
“We’d probably call the song ‘Shoot It’ and we’d be holding AK-47s and blasting everybody everywhere and high fives,” he said. “Maybe we would invade Washington, DC, and take over.”
According to Casales, the 1984 film “This is Spinal Tap” may have touched on something in a scene where the fictional band at the center of the film were told they couldn’t release an album cover with a forced woman. to sniff a glove – but it would be nice if this woman forced the male members of the group to sniff that same piece of clothing.
“‘Spinal Tap’ showed us the way,” Casales said. “We would whip the woman in the yard and she would whip the hell out of us.”
Devo was nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022, but learned on Wednesday that the group had missed the cut for enshrinement. Both Casales and Mothersbaugh said it would be “nice” to receive the honor in their home state of Ohio and feel that what they bring to music is “quite different” from what they play. most rock bands. They are known for featuring sounds generated by synthesizers rather than traditional solos played on electric guitars.
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When it comes to modern music, Casales and Mothersbaugh — who perform with Devo on May 18 at Lower Manhattan’s Rooftop at Pier 17 — offer different takes.
“It’s gotten so bad it has to explode into something good,” Casales said. “As in the past, it becomes so mundane and conventional that someone comes along and opens it wide in a way that no one anticipated. I think it will happen.
Mothersbaugh seems to feel like change happens all the time and that’s good.
“I think the music is better than it’s ever been, and I’m not talking about the music you hear on the Grammys or anything like that, and some of that is pretty good, but mostly at because of technology,” he said. “It destroyed the way the music was delivered to us. You used to listen to AM then FM came along and it was amazing. Then the internet came along and there was so much music.
The 71-year-old singer said kids growing up now have been empowered to be able to record music at home and then stay on the internet without further interference.
For Mothersbaugh, however, doing such things got a little more complicated after a brutal battle with COVID — including wild hallucinations — left him half-blind.
“Somewhere along the line I got shot in the eye, so now my right eye is just a memory,” he said. “It doesn’t really function as an eye anymore. It’s a bit unfortunate.