Devo co-founder Jerry Casale is revisiting his side project Jihad Jerry & the Evildoers by re-releasing an expanded edition of their 2006 LP Mine Is Not a Holy War. It includes the previously unheard song “I’m Gonna Pay U Back,” which will also be available as a seven-inch metallic gold vinyl single. Check out an animated video for the song, which shows Devo Jerry confronting his Jihad Jerry counterpart on a spaceship.
“I’m Gonna Pay U Back” was born out of a spontaneous jam between Casale and drummer Josh Freese during rehearsals for Devo’s 2012 tour. “He started a retro, almost military rat-a-tat-tat figure on the drums,” Casale says. “It was just the two of us there in the studio at that point, and I went into my Jihad Jerry alter-ego, rapping ‘I’m gonna pay you back’ over and over. Then I yelled ‘right now!’ And Josh responded with a spastic drum fill. We laughed, and kept it up.”
In 2020, Freese pushed Casale to flesh out their jam into a complete song. “With Covid as enforced solitary confinement, I jumped at the chance,” Casale says. “And I thank [Oingo Boingo’s] Steve Bartek for the added guitar dimension as only he can bring it.”
The message of the tune felt appropriate in a year marked by the pandemic and Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. “It’s a song about gaslighting and betrayal at the hands of a toxic narcissist,” Casale says. “Most people have been victimized by such a person. In fact, the whole USA was victimized by such a person for the past four years. The perpetrator puts the victim on the defensive. Ultimately, you are forced to confront your own demons and insecurities in order to gain the self-respect it takes to refuse to accept what’s being foisted on you.”
The video marks the first time that Casale’s two personas came together. “I like the idea of our personalities confronting themselves,” he says. “It’s classic Jungian, Jekyll and Hyde, dark/light duality. It’s the human condition in a nutshell. I have always been drawn to masks and alter egos. It’s an ancient theatrical construct that has withstood the test of time. It’s bigger than the individual, and is the stuff of myth.”
There are no plans for Casale to take Jihad Jerry & the Evildoers on the road, but Devo are coming out of a long hiatus in September by playing a series of shows that include stops at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, Chicago’s Riot Fest, L.A.’s Hollywood Park, and Las Vegas’ Punk Rock Bowling Fest.
What can fans expect from these shows? “You can expect us survivors to preach the Gospel of De-evolution with new intensity and resolve, now that the presence of evil is palpable beyond our worst predictions,” Casale says. “This culture has slipped through a wormhole and into an alternate universe where the worst-case scenarios are unfolding with impunity.”