According to a press release from 2001 (which could very well be a goofy fabrication), the seeds of '70s/'80s new wave groundbreakers Devo lay in a '60s surf band, known as the Wipeouters. Future Devo members Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob Mothersbaugh, and Robert Casale formed the band for fun in Akron, OH, back in 1966, inspired by the likes of the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, Dick Dale, the Trashmen, and the Ventures. The group never broke out nationally (that was never the intention), as the bandmembers went their separate ways by the '70s, as Mark went to Kent State University with Robert Casale's brother, Gerry.
Witnessing the notorious "Kent State Killings" by that National Guard in 1970, the duo hatched the idea of how mankind had "de-volved" in the late 20th century, and began putting their theories and ideas of "de-evolution" to music and film (all the while adding a heavy dose of humor to the proceedings) -- this lead to the birth of Devo. With Mark Mothersbaugh handling synths/vocals and Gerry Casale the bass/vocals, the duo invited their brothers to join the fledgling group (both playing guitar), with drummer Alan Myers eventually rounding out the group and leading to a recording contract with Warners by 1977. The band fit in perfectly with the burgeoning punk rock and new wave movement (sounding like a cross between Kraftwerk and the Sex Pistols), as the band issued such classic alt-rock albums as 1978's Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and 1980's Freedom of Choice, and were one of the first bands to explore the idea of making "video clips" for the songs (becoming an early favorite of MTV). But by the mid-'80s, the band's commercial success had come to a halt. While the group never officially broke up, all of the members (sans Myers, who left in 1985) began working on music for commercials, movies (Rushmore), and most of all, TV shows -- MTV's Liquid Television, the children shows Pee Wee's Playhouse and Rugrats, etc. This led to the formation of the recording studio Mutato Muzika, which was headed by Mark Mothersbaugh but the three other remaining Devo members lent a hand in writing and recording their part of the music.
During 2000, while penning a surf tune for a project, the group began toying around with the idea of reforming the Wipeouters, and putting out an album of all-new surf tunes. 2001 saw the release of the band's debut recording, P Twaaang, with new member Josh Mancell taking over drumming duties, and even Robert Casale Sr. (Gerry and Robert's 70 year-old father) lending a hand with some bass work. With Devo not having launched a full-on tour since 1990 and the bandmembers back at work at Mutato Muzika, it appears unlikely that the Wipeouters will tour in support of P Twaaang. ~ Greg Prato