Sunday, February 23, 2014

We're all DEVO: Memories flow in honor of Bob Casale -- 'Bob2'

Bob Casale last summer. (Chris Shary photo)

"Bob2," left,  in 1978. (DEVO Archives)

By Andy

If you like DEVO, you're a weirdo.

That's what people always told us back in the '80s. But that was OK, we were used to getting yelled at wherever we went for being punk rockers -- listening to the forbidden music.

DEVO were strange guys back then, they still are these days. They were going against the grain, they were visionaries, they were funny and they were brilliant.

DEVO lost one of its Bobs on Monday -- Bob Casale or "Bob2," who passed away at age 61 from conditions that led to heart failure, according to his brother and DEVO bandmate, Gerald, in a statement.

Another DEVO member, Alan Myers, their drummer from 1976-1986, died last year from stomach cancer at age 58.

Following are statements and memories from DEVO members (taken from their website) and There's Something Hard in There contributors:

Michael Pilmer, DEVO-OBSESSO! Archiving the Truth About Devolution:

"Bob2" Casale was the person who introduced me to Mark and Jerry of DEVO way back in the 1990s, which eventually led to me officially working for the band starting in the late 90s/early 2Ks. Definitely changed my life. He was a very warm and friendly guy, and every DEVO fan who has ever met him will tell you that.

Gerald Casale, DEVO:

As an original member of DEVO, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning. He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got. He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing DEVO to play shows again. His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.

Bob "Bob1" Mothersbaugh, DEVO:

I'm heartbroken about Bob Casale's sudden passing. I will always miss him.

Mark Mothersbaugh, DEVO:

We are shocked and saddened by Bob Casale’s passing. He not only was integral in DEVO’s sound, he worked over twenty years at Mutato, collaborating with me on sixty or seventy films and television shows, not to mention countless commercials and many video games. Bob was instrumental in creating the sound of projects as varied as Rugrats and Wes Anderson’s films. He was a great friend. I will miss him greatly.

Keith Morris, OFF! and Flag:

DEVO = GENIUS! Where did these holdouts from "The Revenge Of The  Nerds" come up with so much cool and disjointed rock action? These guys predicted "The dumb down" with their prediction of De-evolution! YEA FOR THE DEVO!

"Bob2" during "Satisfaction" at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., May 11, 2012.
(Michael Pilmer/DEVO-OBSESSO!)

Brandon Cruz, former singer of Dr. Know and Dead Kennedys:

When I was a kid, my mom was hanging out with members of Zappa's band, the Mothers of Invention, and Captain Beefheart. In 1973, they all came back from a tour, and a guy that all of us kids called Uncle Don, handed me a cassette, and said, "If you like trippy music, you'll love this!" It was a tape of DEVO. He had gotten it from one of them in Akron, Ohio at a Zappa gig. Turns out Uncle Don WAS Captain Beefheart. And when I first saw DEVO in L.A., I told them about that moment when I was first turned on to them. "Bob2" told me that he remembered meeting those guys. It's a beautiful world we live in!

Ed Nystrom, fan:

My most vivid memories are listening to DEVO's music and saying how different and cool and weird and awesome this shit was.

I remember drinking Peppermint Schnapps in the Santa Monica Civic parking lot prior to the two shows in 1980 -- and almost not getting to go to the second show because I was drunk or something like that.

I remember listening to "Duty Now for the Future" about 1,000 times in our room playing Atari "Breakout" with Craig and Harry Reitberger and dipping Copenhagen.

I remember wearing yellow DEVO suits with energy domes with Chris Wilson to Bishop Montgomery High School and getting apples thrown at us by Pat Carmody and A.J. Matel.

I remember seeing DEVO at some place in Ventura in the late '80s with Tom Ganley.

And I remember seeing them lastly at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston in 2008 with my wife Suzanne when we first started dating.

More Chris Shary photos.

Matthew Berlyant, journalist:

Although I’m not old enough to have been around for DEVO’s heyday in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I did become a fan of theirs when I checked out "Freedom of Choice" from the public library when I was 19. A few years later, I bought "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!," "Duty Now for the Future," "New Traditionalists" and eventually got both "Hardcore Devo: Volume One" and "Hardcore Devo: Volume Two" along with other odds and ends and they became one of my favorite bands.

I didn’t get to see them play until I saw them at Central Park Summerstage with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs opening in the summer of 2004. From what I remember, the weather had been a bit inclement during the YYYs’ set with occasional light rain and drizzle. It was a harbinger of what was to come, though. I don’t remember that much about what DEVO played that night other than that they mostly stuck to their first four (and best) albums and a few from the fifth like “That’s Good.” They encored with “Beautiful World,” as sung by their mascot Booji Boy (i.e. Mark Mothersbaugh in disguise) and then as if on cue, the very second that they ended their set, the rain poured down from the heavens. I took refuge in the VIP tent and stayed there until the huge summer thunderstorm subsided.

Four years later, I saw them again here in Philadelphia at Festival Pier (like Central Park Summerstage, another large outdoor venue) and again, after their set, it started to rain although it wasn’t the torrent of precipitation that had occurred after the first time I saw them. Regardless, it was as if they had the power to control the weather. Sometimes I wonder if they would snicker at those kind of notions, but regardless it is awful that both Myers and now "Bob2" have passed away within seven months of each other. I never met either of them, but this week I am honoring them by listening to their music. I would like to think that they would have wanted it that way.

Brian Walsby art, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pettibon's still making his mark with intriguing art

Longtime artist Raymond Pettibon's stellar pieces still draw you in -- make you think, cringe and laugh.

Above is his latest work for OFF!'s new album, which is set for an April 8 release.

Below are his contributions to Flipside fanzine's #33, the Comic Relief issue from 1982. We're not sure if these works are widely known. Plus there's an "interview" to boot. Enjoy.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Drop the damn puck -- it's hockey day

The Hanson Brothers from 1977's "Slap Shot." (Courtesy photo)

In less than an hour, Team USA and Canada will get their hockey on in the men's Olympic semifinal matchup in Sochi.

It's gonna be big-time hockey, so let's get fired up for the game with some appropriate tuneage.

But before we let the punk-rock puck drop, Andy will take us back to 1986 for a quick tale of his experience playing the sport with members of SNFU:

Following an epic gig at a roller-skating palace in Oxnard, Calif., with Corrosion of Conformity, SNFU, Bl'ast! and Honor Role, the Canadian guys were up for knocking the puck around afterward. Guitars, amps and drums were shoved into the SNFU van, hockey sticks appeared and we were ready to roll. A couple of us were passing the puck around on the roller-skating floor when one of the SNFU guys decided to rip a shot at another dude playing goalie against the wall. The shooter tore into the puck and put it through a window.... SMASH! Before the dust had cleared, the SNFU guys bailed, hopped in their van and jammed out of there. I can't remember if I took the blame or not, because I was still there, but I'm pretty sure the roller-rink guys knew the SNFU guys were behind it all. But what a shot it was!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A look back and ahead at Bob Mould's 'Workbook'

Marc Norberg photo
By Andy

I kept thinking maybe this wasn't meant to be.

My car was in the shop, so the Subaru clearly wasn't on board for the trip from the San Jose State University dorms to the Fillmore in San Francisco on May 20, 1989.

A buddy of mine in West Hall said he could drive a few of us, but his car was running ragged lately.

So, with a few free passes from KSJS tucked away in my pocket, we excitedly but reluctantly piled into his car and were off on that Saturday evening to see Bob Mould on his "Workbook" Tour with Peter Case and the American Music Club.

I was once friends with Mould and saw him about a dozen times live with Husker Du, but never in a solo setting, so this would be an interesting night. How would he handle playing in front of a crowd without Grant Hart and Greg Norton nearby? What would it be like for me to see Mould giving it a go? I was a bit nervous, myself, I admit. (Mould was backed by Anton Fier on drums, Tony  Maimone on bass and Chris Stamey on guitar.)

The car didn't run smoothly toward SF, but it made the trip. As we saw the buildings in the distance, we silently bowed down to the vehicle and were soon hitting the off ramp into the city.

And then a horrible thing happened: the car gave out and we were zigging and zagging through traffic, trying to get our ride off the road and us into a safe spot. We achieved that, but there was much more to deal with: helping our driver get his car to an auto shop, getting ourselves to the gig and finding a ride back home afterward and possibly a place to stay overnight.

Everything was sorted out, thanks to passenger Brian and his girlfriend, who lived in SF.

So, what about the show?

It was weird and cool and memorable -- and well worth all the car trouble.

Here' the setlist ... and oh yeah, I did get a bit emotional during the last three songs:

Wishing Well
Compositions For The Young And Old
Heartbreak A Stranger
Dreaming, I Am
If You're True
Poison Years
Sinners And Their Repentances
Lonely Afternoon
Brasilia Crossed With Trenton
See A Little Light
Whichever Way The Wind Blows
All Those People Know
Shoot Out The Lights
Hardly Getting Over It
Too Far Down
Makes No Sense At All


Mould's "Workbook" has remained embedded in the alternative music landscape for 25 years and Omnivore Recordings will re-release the album on Feb. 25.

According to a press release, in addition to the original album’s 11 tracks, the first disc of this 2-CD collection adds “All Those People Know,” originally issued as the B-side of the single “See A Little Light.” The second disc is Mould’s complete 1989 performance at Chicago’s Cabaret Metro.

The album will be available on vinyl for the first time since its original release, will be pressed on two LPs for sonic superiority and will also include “All Those People Know.”

Joining Mould on the Workbook 25 tour dates will be his longtime bassist Jason Narducy and cellist Alison Chesley (both of Verbow).

“I’m so thrilled to be able to play these songs with Bob and Jason. 'Workbook' had a huge influence on me as a cellist and musician and totally informs how to play and write. It’s a huge honor," Chesley said in a press release.

The dates:

Feb. 27: San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall -- SOLD OUT
Noise Pop Festival. Individual show tickets are sold out. Festival badge holders can still access the show.

March 1: Chicago, IL @ Old Town School of Folk Music -- SOLD OUT

March 2: Chicago, IL @ City Winery -- SOLD OUT

March 4: Minneapolis, MN @ The Women’s Club -- SOLD OUT

March 5: Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club

March 7-8: NYC @ City Winery -- SOLD OUT

"Old Town School of Folk Music sold out in six minutes. Chicago, I am humbled. Thank you," Mould wrote on his Facebook page.

* * * * *

Looking back on "Workbook" in his book "See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody," Mould writes:

"I was very aware that I'd been in a band that made a lot of great records and left a deep impression. I told everyone at the new label, please, no mention of my old band, no sticker on the record, let's downplay it. I was taking away my own ace card, the one thing that could have made it easier. I was starting over."

On creating the songs on "Workbook," Mould offers:

"There would be days when I would write words and days when I would write music. The music days, I would start to strum and a motif or pattern would begin to unfold. As soon as that happened, I had an eight-track reel-to-reel ready to go. I'd find the right tempo, lay down a simple click or a standard beat, and hit record."

Marc Norberg photo

25 YEARS AGO ...

And to finish off this entry, here's my "Workbook" review from 25 years ago in the SJSU Spartan Daily:


For some musicians, writing songs can be a joyful experience.

In Bob Mould's case, a great deal of pain and anger is displayed on his debut solo album, "Workbook."

The 28-year-old singer/songwriter is no amateur when it comes to these emotions, as his former band Husker Du was enveloped in them.

After the trio's break-up in 1987, many stories of hatred within the band spread around the music world.

Mould has since put those Husker days and problems behind him, but some of the songs on "Workbook" reflect that bitter past.

This is hauntingly shown on the tracks "Poison Years," "Heartbreak a Stranger" and "Sinners and Their Repentances."

"Poison Years" contains some lyrics that directly address his old band mates:

"I throw it all away (Don't talk to me no more)/ The more I think, the less I've got to say (I don't remember you no more)/ About these poison years; it's just a memory."

These words are matched perfectly with Mould's bracing vocals and musical arrangements to accentuate the dark feeling in the song.

His voice is also the most dominant force behind the album, and could rank as one of the most original ever submitted to vinyl.

On several songs, it's as if there is no set pattern in placing the vocals alongside the music; only that they will come out in some form -- frequently in shrieks of passion.

Another notable feature of "Workbook" is Mould's diverse guitar playing.

Like his vocals, he can go all out on one song and still bring everything to a whisper on another.

Ranging from the opening acoustic instrumental "Sunspots" to the chaotic finale "Whichever Way the Wind Blows," it's obvious that Mould is making his variety of personal styles known.

And it would seem this is important to him, as he is trying to make a name for himself alone -- not with a band.

On the melodic pop number "See A Little Light," he expresses this feeling of moving on:

"But look how much we've grown/ I guess I should have known/ As the years go by, they take their toll on you/ Think of all the things we wanted to do/ And all the words we said/ yesterday/ That's a long time ago."

While Mould is the centerpiece of "Workbook," there are some other musicians who lend their talent to the 11 songs.

For example, the biting cello work of Jane Scarpantoni and pounding bass lines by Tony Maimone blend in well on the songs "Dreaming, I Am" and "Lonely Afternoon."

Aside from the many highlights of the album, there is one weakness that causes a few of the songs to drag a little.

It seems that Mould tries to fit too many tempo changes into several of the songs like "Wishing Well" and "Brasilia Crossed With Trenton."

This is one minor flaw of Mould's initial solo sketchings in "Workbook," and he has plenty of time to perfect his tremendous musical ability.

And he knows that things will only get tougher as time progresses, as noted on "Whichever Way the Wind Blows":

"If ever you travel that road/ You better keep over your side/ And keepin' your hands on the wheel/ That be a long road to ride."