“Humans are continuing to evolve as a species,” says a man wearing a ridiculous white wig and moustache. “But instead of evolving forward we are evolving backward.” This is all part of Korn’s fake trailer for a film called Devolution: Nature’s U-Turn, which argues that chaos on the planet is proof mankind is slowly devolving back into apes.
Sound familiar? It sure did to Jerry Casale, whose band Devo has been making movies and songs about De-evolution since their formation in 1972. Casale, who learned of the project when a rattled Devo fan sent him the link, responded by posting a brief message on the official Devo Web site: “Korn Runs Rampant w/ Devolution — No Nod to DEVO,” he wrote. “We denounce this as imposters playing with fire.”
The reaction from the Korn audience was swift and severe. “Their fanbase, being pretty cretinous, took it like a serious smackdown,” Casale says. “They started writing vicious hate-filled e-mails saying, ‘You guys don’t own the word “devolution” What makes you think you can come out of retirement and say stuff about the great Korn?’ We went, ‘Wow, this is insane. This is a perfect example of devolution. You’re a case in point, pal. Gee, I’m sorry we thought all this up thirty years ago and have been putting it out there and preaching it ever since.'”
Casale would like a tip-of-the-hat to Devo somewhere on the Korn site, but he won’t hold his breath. “I wouldn’t hope for anything from people today, are you kidding?” he says. “We live in a subhuman mean-ass society where everyone has learned to be totally disgusting and spiritless. It starts at the top and trickles down. When you have an administration like we have, everybody learns that ‘fuck you’ is the rule of the day. Every time the president speaks it’s a painful example that de-evolution is real.”
Casale sees other evidence of Devo’s continuing legacy in some of today’s artists. “I’m glad that bands are picking up stylistic things from our music,” he says. “I really like LCD Soundsystem, TV on the Radio and Interpol. I’m glad all this stuff is happening. I hated all that grunge shit. That was such an energy drain.”
Devo, who took much of the 1990s off, just got back from a European tour. They plan on playing South America and Australia later this year before returning to America next summer. They also have a new song in a Dell commercial that may even pave the way for their first new album since 1990’s Smooth Noodle Maps. “Mark [Mothersbaugh] is less resistant to it than he has been in years,” Casale says. “He did sit down and cooperate on a few songs, so odds are better than ever.”