When the Desert Daze festival released its lineup earlier this week, it shocked many Devo fans by announcing not only that the group was making a rare live appearance, but that it was part of their “farewell tour.” It turns out this was also news to Devo, who are emphatically denying any such tour is happening.
“#1 If we were going to do a farewell tour we would not call it a farewell tour,” Devo bassist Jerry Casale emailed in a statement to Rolling Stone. “#2 If we were going to do a Beginning Was The End tour it would be Devo choosing when and where to make the announcement.” A rep for Desert Daze declined to comment.
Devo haven’t toured since 2014, though in 2016 they played three songs at a Los Angeles charity gig and in June 2018 they played a complete set at Burger Boogaloo in Oakland, California. “It’s my fault we don’t tour,” Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh told Rolling Stone last year. “Jerry would be the first to tell you. I love writing music.”
“Until Mark changes his mind about playing shows, there’s nothing happening,” Casale said at the time. “We get offers constantly. The money being offered is obscenely good. And I love playing. I wish we’d at least do a ‘The Beginning Was Really the End’ tour, like a farewell. I think it would be smarter than just fading away. At least we could die with our boots on.”
Despite his opposition to touring, Mothersbaugh did say that the idea of one last tour did intrigue him. “I wouldn’t mind doing another tour to be honest with you,” he said. “If we it ahead of time and did it right, I would like it to be kind of a wrap-up. I’m hoping we can do a ‘Stick a Fork in It tour — but I don’t mean the band. We’ll see what happens.”
But even if such a tour is a possibility, Casale says it is not happening this year and it’s not starting at Desert Daze, no matter what the poster says. “Perhaps 2020 before our next presidential (selection) would be a perfectly relevant time for Devo to take the stage for one final campaign 40 years after the release of Freedom of Choice,” he wrote to us. “Since elections are now rigged by right-wing judges, rampant gerrymandering, voter suppression, and manipulation of the Electoral College to sabotage the popular vote Devo’s canary in the coal mine warning about the loss of liberty and cultural Devolution is more dire than ever.”
Devo have not yet announced who will be playing drums during their Desert Daze set, but Fred Armisen took on the role at Burger Boogaloo last year and he’s booked to play a comedy set at Desert Daze, making him a very strong candidate. Earlier this year, he told Rolling Stone he’d be more than happy to tour with them in the future. “I would throw my Devo hat in the ring and say, ‘Of course, I would love to do it,’” he said. “But that’s up to them. They’ve had different drummers: Josh Freese and Jeff Friedl and some brilliant people. That’s up to them, but if they ever asked me I’d do it in a second. In a second!”