Devo on the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame: “I voted for Dolly Parton”

Frontman Mark Mothersbaugh on voting, wanting to be buried at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, new music and working with Tony Hawk

Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh has told NME what their Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2022 nomination means to them, joking that if the band are inducted they intend to commemorate the historic honour by being buried next to the museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

The new wave pioneers were previously nominated for entry in both 2018 and 2021, and Mothersbaugh is hoping that being up for entry alongside the likes of Eminem, Kate Bush and Beck this year will see them finally among the big names in the hallowed hall.

“On one hand, I like John Lydon’s view. When he was asked: ‘What would it mean to be inducted?’, he replied: ‘I’d be wondering what we did wrong’,” Mothersbaugh told NME. “But the reality is the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is bigger than just being about the most obvious traits of rock and roll – it also includes concepts and ideas that changed rock and roll.

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He continued: “At the risk of being immodest, I think Devo – bigger than our record sales – had an influence on the aesthetic and trajectory of rock and roll, so it would be nice to be recognised.”

As might be expected from a group known for their absurdist humour and surrealist theatricality, Mothersbaugh quipped that Devo would have an unusual way of celebrating if they’re inducted to the pop pantheon.

“The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is in Cleveland, and Ohio’s great because they have really relaxed burial rules,” he told NME. “You could have your grandpa buried in your back, or even your front, yard if you want. So if we get inducted, I’m going to buy a property right next door to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – maybe even just one parking space – and have all of Devo buried there.”

Eminem, Kate Bush, Beck, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Lionel Richie, Rage Against The Machine and Judas Priest are also among the nominees for the Class of 2022, while organisers say Dolly Parton remains eligible, despite asking for her nod to be withdrawn, explaining that although she was “extremely flattered” to be considered, she hadn’t “earned the right” for inclusion.

Reflecting on Parton’s request, Mothersbaugh said: “I think she has as much right as a rapper would – she has every right to be there. Her music, whether she knows it or not, has a lot of rock elements in it. I voted for Dolly Parton anyhow.”

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Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Formed in Akron, Ohio, in the early 1970s by Mothersbaugh and fellow Kent State University art student Gerald Casale, Devo took their name from their concept of “De-Evolution”, a theory that man was regressing towards dumbed-down consumerism and self-destruction – a concept he feels is more relevant than ever today.

“Jerry and I were talking about what we were seeing in the world and decided it was not evolution, it was De-Evolution, and I was already worried about it because I had read a book in 1969 called Population Bomb [by Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich and his wife, Anne Ehrlich] which pretty accurately described what is happening in 2022,” said Mothersbaugh.

“He said: ‘Just do the math, there’s so many humans on the planet, and because humans don’t have the ability to control themselves or have a good vision of who they are or how they fit into the planet, we’re the unnatural species and by 2050, he predicted that a virus would wipe out humans and save the planet.”

Mothersbaugh added: “He said the only worse thing that could happen would be we’d detonate a nuclear war and kill off all the species instead of just the humans.”

 

Meanwhile, Devo are also forging ahead with talk of new music and NFTs. “We’re always writing new stuff and music and talking about experiments with NFTS, which I’m interested in,” said Mothersbaugh. “As an artistic statement about music as you write it in a novel fashion, they intrigue me.”

Added to that, the band are poised to play the inaugural Tony Hawk’s Weekend Jam in Las Vegas from May 12-15 – a festival mixing skateboarding with performances from acts like Modest Mouse and Descendents. It had previously been announced that Mothersbaugh and pro-skateboarder Hawk had teamed up for a musical adaption of the Nick Hornby novel Slam – but the musician told NME that the pair’s collaboration had expanded.

“You know, it’s probably going to be even bigger than that [the musical],” he teased. “I can’t talk about it right now, but it’s given us the chance to hang out and do different things. Skateboarders and Devo have an affinity. When we did our ‘Freedom of Choice’ video [in 1980], we shot skaters in the park – and those kids were Devo fans who became famous. Tony loves that video. When he was a kid, he watched it over and over again, just to watch those guys skate.”

He added: “Tony Hawk just texted me to remind me we’re doing something. He broke his leg, yet still walked out onstage at the Oscars. I said: ‘I notice you didn’t kick anybody at the Ocsars’ and he replied: ‘That’s because everybody kept my wife’s name out of their fucking mouth!”

Fans have until April 29 to vote for the final five who’ll enter the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2022 here.

You can also read a recent Devo edition of our Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! feature, where Mothersbaugh is quizzed on his eventful career, here.

Last month, Devo also announced they would be donating a month of royalties revenue from their back catalogue to help assist relief efforts in Ukraine, while strongly condemning Putin’s invasion of the country.

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