Dystopia Now: How Cult New Wave Band Devo Predicted Our Doom-Scroll Era

"Mothersbaugh: I'm sorry we were right."

INDIANA: The Kent State shooting was a formative event in the creation of Devo. Can you take me through the aftermath of experiencing that trauma?

CASALE: Well, you can imagine how that would change a person to see people shot, to be in close proximity, and see what real gunshots do to humans. And to find out that they were people you knew well. You stop being a passive person who believes the mythologies, the propaganda you're being fed. You really have a dim view of illegitimate authority. Then you see how history gets written, because people hated the students, and thought more of them should have been killed. Those who got to write that history got the story upside down. They were gaslighting the victims. And you see that, and now you're terminally pissed off. Devo was born from questioning the prevailing reality and being on the wrong end of it. [...]

INDIANA: Was it a big shift in perspective for you to suddenly be making an album for a major label?

MOTHERSBAUGH: Yes and no. Part of why we even wanted to do that was because of all the things that went on in Kent. Before we left for New York, we started going, "How do you change things?" We obviously don't do it through rebellion, because if people get pissed off, the governor just has a whole bunch of you shot and that ends it -- everything goes quiet. That's what happened to the whole country -- everything went quiet. And we looked around and we saw Madison Avenue as an example of how you change things in the United States. They were getting people to eat shit food and drive crappy cars and be happy about it. So we thought, "Subversion, that's how you change things."

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