A documentary on the synth-rockers Devo is in the works and is the first fully-authorized film about the band.
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Directed by Chris Smith, who previously helmed the documentaries on the ill-fated Fyre Festival, actor Robert Downey, Jr., and a film on the making of the 1999 Andy Kaufman biopic, Man on the Moon, the Devo film will trace the early beginnings of the group through archival footage and interviews, and follow the band’s beginnings through 1980 breakout hit “Whip It” and the beyond.
Additional interviews will feature individuals within the band’s orbit, and a “range of storytelling techniques the film’s inventive narrative will parallel the revolutionary creativity the band is known for,” according to a descriptive of the film.
“Devo was a huge influence on me,” said Smith in a statement. “Their approach to music, film, video, and art was something I had never seen before and was one of the truly formative artistic influences that showed me there were entirely new ways to look at things.”
First formed in 1973 by Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh in the wake of the 1970 Kent State shootings at their school, the band took its name from the concept of “De-evolution.” Brothers, Bob Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale (1952-2014) would later join the group.
Within their somewhat satirical synth-rock, Devo began fostering their own experimental sound by the early 1970s, releasing their first single “Jocko Homo” in 1977. The track also appeared on the band’s Brian Eno-produced debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! a year later.
In 1980, the band’s third album Freedom of Choice produced their mega-hit “Whip It,” which captured the video-consuming and MTV-obsessed of the era and was followed by New Traditionalists. Devo continued releasing albums throughout their 1988 album, Total Devo, and Smooth Noodle Maps in 1990, before taking a 20-year hiatus in the 1990s and ’00s.
Devo reunited over the years, including for their ninth album Something for Everybody in 2010. In 2018, the dual release of the books The Brand and Unmasked also revealed more behind the the band’s storied history.
Photo: Robert Matheu / Courtesy of BMG / Freemantle