HitFix Interview: Devo unveils 'Something for Everybody,' feelings on label-less systems

Watch: Newest cheeseball press conference from Jerry Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh

Coming back from a 20-year absence isn’t easy, and doesn’t Jerry Casale know it.

The Devo songwriter and co-founder is headlong into resurrecting a band, a brand and a musical identity with the group’s forthcoming “Something For Everybody,” due June 15. And, well, everybody is responsible for its success.
First, there’s the entity behind its release, Warner Bros., an entertainment industry behemoth that seems like it’d be the center of Devo’s mocking of the de-evolutionary human: the very corporatization of art, in itself, makes us mere consumers, a somewhat de-evolved state.
But, Casale says, one hand must wash the other.
“No joking, all these claims and hot air about how [artists] don’t need a label anymore because there’s sponsorships or AEG and Live Nation writing the advance checks, or 100% fan support for marketing… It isn’t true,” Casale told HitFix in an interview. “We really wanted to do-it-yourself with Facebook and all that. But when you haven’t put music out music in 20 years and you’re not Radiohead and Trent Reznor with Nine Inch Nails… We don’t want to do that, that we couldn’t.
“Warner was the only entity that said ‘We’ll give you marketing money.’ There’s lot of good music out there. And a lot of times that nobody knows about it, unless you have a voice. They were willing to give us that.”
Additionally, Warner owns the band’s back catalog of seven studio albums, and then some. Should this new release prove successful on getting the band back on the map, everyone wins.
How that’s done is being determined right now by two other distinctly giant means: an advertising agency, and the fans that react to the ad agency’s efforts. Over the last three months, Devo has released a number of communiqués requesting “data” from its fans – not demographic information, but more listeners’ preferences. The band posted clips of 16 songs on its website last month and told visitors to pick their favorite 12. Those 12 would be on the album, the remaining four would not. No matter what Warner or the band said, Devo was shooting to make a record of songs that the people liked best, end of story.
They done the same sort of audience polling for the color of their new cylindrical hats, for instance, and will continue the trend at live shows. 
But they do it with reflective humor. The videos, for instance, feature “Tim & Eric”-like amateur actors, awkward scripts that reflect back on the out-of-touch nature of corporate communications. See below, for instance.
“What do you think of Jacob?” Jerry eagerly asks of one of the mustachioed narrators of these posts. He added that cheeseball-looking Greg Scholl “COO” of the “musical division” of Devo, Inc. is an actual corporate executive, for NBC no less.
“We’ve always had a sense of irony. We gave the band over to an ad agency, to continue that Devo ambiguity, taking it all the way to the corporate world,” he continues. The imagery acts as a parody, as well as an actual vehicle for making a successful record; it’s a warning as to the direction our media and art is going, and it is representative example of the trend at the same time.
As to whether this message is the same Devo message from 20 years ago, Casale says he does think “there is something behind it all, and it’s shifted. Now Devo is about a sense of urgency. Devo is more like the house band on the Titanic, and we can all go down together. We’re not the far-out, creepy, silly guys from 1978. We all are Devo. It’s all self-referential.”
Getting the urgent message out into the ether has taken some time. Casale though a reunion with Mark Mothersbaugh would happen in the mid-2000s, “starting around the Bush era.” Then definitely in 2007. 2008. 2009. As for why it didn’t come together a few years ago, Casale suggested, “I have no idea, you should ask Mark that question.”


<p>Tokyo Police Club</p>

Tokyo Police Club

Song Of The Day: Tokyo Police Club goof off in 'Breakneck Speed' video

From well-titled forthcoming album 'Champ'

Tokyo Police Club want to take you on the road with their new music video for "Breakneck Speed," culled from forthcoming album "Champ" due June 8.

The track has a good-feeling chorus that leaves you mindlessly repeating to yourself: "It's good to be back." It's a refrain that heralds the new set, as well as a big, messily executed lyrical bear hug to coming home from tour.

But the young band doesn't make the road seem as bad as it can boringly be. Featured are several scenarios of goofing off, of hugging oversized mascots at festival grounds to staring into space as rainbows or planes fly by. Little vignettes of shows and the aftershows peep through the sunny harmonies as the bonds grow between band members and band with its audience.

OK, it's just cute.  The track itself has a little Frank Blackness to it, with the matter-of-fact vocals that made the Weakerthans special. They've made it out alive.


<p>ACL Fest-goers: Are you ready to have your face jammed off by Don Henley?</p>

ACL Fest-goers: Are you ready to have your face jammed off by Don Henley?

No, you're right: The Austin City Limits lineup sucks

Is there free pot or something?

The folks over at Austin City Limits must have noticed that all the tickets for this year's fest were already sold out by time they formally sat down at the headliner brainstorming table.

"Eagles?" one organizer may have quipped. 

"Yeah, the Eagles!" another may have retorted, with a little too much excitement, making the room uncomfortable for nay-sayers.

Hell, there may have been no nay-sayers. I mean, 100 million people in the world own Eagles' "Greatest Hits." They're safe, everybody knows the songs, and they just happen to be doing some shows this year! Alright!

And they're also totally polarizing, especially when sharing the marquee with seemingly safe, beloved (beliked?) headliners like Muse, Flaming Lips and, gulp, Phish.

Click here for the full ACL lineup.

Muse has already headlined a fest this summer -- and they're great, but good for non-fans? So has Flaming Lips, which always does with Flaming Lips always does only this time with the "Dark Side of the Moon" novelty batted about for the year. Phish toured like crazy last year, partly in support of their pretty lame "Joy" set and were Bonnaroo's babies for eternity. The Strokes have not yet proven themselves worthy of a 2010 return, with no new music for us to hear and the nostalgia of 2002 still not set in our muscles in happy rigor mortis.

Exceptions to the "meh" hue of this palette: while I haven't seen LCD Soundsystem on this go-'round, word from Coachella is that they're solid, with a killer record to boot; and M.I.A. promises to be batsh*t bonkers (I look forward to posting the pics from that ish).

But you're still left with those big names, the ones that aren't necessarily playing your smaller or secondary markets. You're left with the Eagles, who to me are aural wallpaper, wallpaper that sings "Hotel California" for the encore.

Is there free pot or something? Are the Eagles supposed to be the prestige, the big reveal -- furthermore, shouldn't people who love the Eagles just get tickets to that show, instead of major festival organizers merely trusting that enough people won't be pissed off by the choice?

"But," says my straw man, "what of great album artists like Spoon, Sonic Youth, Monsters of Folk? Sleigh Bells is off the hook, Lucero can jam and Matt & Kim has a girl in it, I think."

Ugh, says I, why would you go to an expensive festival just see those?

Folks who love music or love drinking or love both go to music festivals. Festivals are crazy, expensive, crowded. It's hard to see everything you want but they make great stories for when you go home; they're for the young, and the young at heart (and the lesser-jaded). ACL, hosted in one of the best cities ever to see live music, is like Jazz Fest, often with safer acts, often with alt-country, country, roots and blues music to boot.

ACL is kind of a pet-fest for dad-rock, older white dudes. (It's OK for me to say that, I have white dudes in my family.) Which is fine and everything except there doesn't seem to be anything special about this particular festival except in its plainness -- and goers should be more demanding of their wildly expensive, tiring weekend events.

<p>Ryan Adams</p>

Ryan Adams

What's Ryan Adams been up to? Making Sci-Fi metal, that's what

Wasn't this effort supposed to be 'just for laughs?'

Ryan Adams is releasing a new album. Rather, a new-old effort.

Between 2000 and 2008, the singer-songwriter released a new album a year -- and in 2005's case, three of them -- but 2006 stared out like a lost, scared child with no effort to call it's own.

But now we see there was "Orion" all along. In a post on Adams' website, it says that "Orion is Ryan Adams' first fully realized sci-fi metal concept album." It won't be released on CD, but instead in a vinyl + download format for and "extremely" limited pressing.

The personnel boasts Adams (under the moniker Dra), former Cardinal Jamie Candiloro on drums and synths and Dale Nixon on bass. Candiloro produced the set. It's up for $25, out May 24.

While Adams is better known for his folk- and country-infused solo tracks and for his stint as Whiskeytown frontman, he's been a long-lover of hard rock. In fact, back in 2006 as he was sobering up, he started slapping up webcasts of metal licks and 11 albums worth of heavy rock, jokey hip-hop and other wild mental meanderings.

"It was musical blogging, and I was just ripping on s**t," Adams told me back then. "It's not very good and wasn't meant to be anything more than just a laugh."

Liar. Looks like enough was cobbled together for what sounds like a pretty sweet set, 13 tracks with titles like "Ghoron, Master of War" and "Victims of the Ice Brigade." Sounds like good fun, which is precisely what Adams' last two efforts, "Easy Tiger" and "Cardinology" lacked: fun. Sorry race car fans.

<p>Mariqueen Maandig on fire in &quot;The Space in Between&quot;</p>

Mariqueen Maandig on fire in "The Space in Between"

Watch: Trent Reznor murdered, on fire in 'The Space in Between'

Can Mariqueen prove herself in the song, clip?

Do you think you're having a rough week so far? It's still probably got nothing on How To Destroy Angels', at least in their video form.

In a mysterious, gory clip for "The Space In Between," the viewer walks in on the scene of a crime, in which the band's Trent Reznor and Mariqueen Maandig have already been murder. Though Reznor lays motionless on the floor, the frontlady lifelessly "sings" from the floor, blood dripping down her face.

Soon the bed is on fire, roses are set on fire (of course they are), the whole room and the pair are up in flames. The perps sit across from them, emotionless, as one makes a phone call while the other unblinkinly watches TV.

Maybe this is a metaphor for something. Or maybe its just a murder fetish -- I mean, the thing is kind of beautiful and disgustingly watchable. The song is still that burning, churning electronic hard stuff that "A Drowning" was made of, and again, Mariqueen still comes up short as a distinctive voice in what's essentially an all-Reznor comp, though admittedly the clip sets the mood despite its abrupt end (pun intended).

"A Drowning" is up for sale digitally now; an EP is expected to be released this summer.

What do you think of the video? Push your buttons or are you totally in bed with it?

<p>Tape this: Detail on the LCD Soundsystem limited edition poster</p>

Tape this: Detail on the LCD Soundsystem limited edition poster

Win a limited edition LCD Soundsystem 'This Is Happening' poster and CD

To Tweet is to take home a little piece of James Murphy

**** This contest is officially closed. Congrats to @jonwiththewind, who has won our poster! ****

This week, LCD Soundsystem celebrates its sonically diverse -- and what may be its last -- album "This Is Happening." For fans of the man and the band, there's some decorative pleasure to be had in this achievement, at least for one lucky HitFix / Immaculate Noise reader.

In the next 48 hours, I will be giving away a limited edition poster for "This Is Happening" -- pictured below -- which comes with a copy of the CD.

To Tweet is to enter:

   + Start by following HitFix (@HitFix) and myself (@katieaprincess) on Twitter

   + Then send a Tweet including "@HitFix @katieaprincess #LCDposter" somewhere in your text.

That's it. Seems pretty black and white -- which is precisely the color palette for this minimalist, block-rocking print. (The little cassette tape reads, "THIS IS HAPPENING.") The winner will be chosen at random, I swear.

"This Is Happening" was released today (May 18) and includes nine tracks of mastermind James Murphy's meandering emotive states, through the humor of single "Drunk Girls" to the breathless promise of "I Can Change." Click here to check it all out and click here to just buy the darn thing.

<p>Matthew Bellamy of Muse</p>

Matthew Bellamy of Muse

Song Of The Day: Listen to Muse's ultra-cheesy 'Eclipse' soundtrack single

Maybe this is why Adam Lambert didn't make the cut

I  get it: Muse isn't well known for its love songs, which is why maybe "Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)" -- the leading single for "Twilight Saga: Eclipse" -- turned out like a hot mess.

Part of it may be the compression of the track that's out there, but, take for instance the piano accompaniment: dripping cheese. The guitar solo is like the soft edges on a hair metal haircut. Lyrically, Matthew Bellamy may  have been laughing at himself as he wrote this middle school poetry down.

Or maybe not. According to the BBC, the British singer was inspired not by the melancholy of "Twilight" Edward and Bella's oft-difficult romance, but of his own breakup with a girlfriend.

"I might as well just bung it in there and get it out there because this song represents a bit of a difficult period for me in my life. It's the kind of song that by the time we get to the next album might not be relevant any more. My life might have changed and moved on."

Oops, sorry brother.

"It's kind of like a cheesy love sentiment I suppose. When I wrote the song, it was quite a heavy thing.." Relief! He agrees. 

Muse does extreme well: they're loud, dramatic, intergalactic and cinematic. But this doesn't strike me as a song I'll want to hear over and over again, like so many of their other tracks. It seems fake, a bit -- no offense -- like the manufactured glam of Adam Lambert. Looks like he didn't have to "apply" to be on the soundtrack after all.

"Eclipse" the film is out June 30. The soundtrack drops June 8.

<p>The Whigs</p>

The Whigs

Song of the Day: The Whigs quite alive on 'Dying'

Can this single help them turn the corner?

The Whigs. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. I can think of few other bands that chronically open for  enormous bands, but rarely headline big rooms themselves.

It's not that their brand of rock 'n' roll is off in any way; their records are good, they play well together live, sonically they're ever-growing.

Maybe things are about to change, that they'll turn the corner this year in support of "In the Dark." And "Dying" could help.

It's a, well, dark shoegazey jam, with a growling crescendo and a quasi-chorus that sets a mood more than it blazes lyrics into your cranium. Download it for free below.

It comes as a reminder that the band is paired with the perfect bride, Kings of Leon, this summer on tour, as well as The Hold Steady. Check dates here.

<p>Pearly Gate Music's Zach Tillman</p>

Pearly Gate Music's Zach Tillman

On The Rise: Pearly Gate Music rolls back the years on self-titled debut

Get ready for heart-hurt

Pearly Gate Music has a name that sounds vaguely religious and for some, I'm sure it will be.

With folk, alt-country and pure Americana influences, Zach Tillman's songs are less so shoegaze than they are cloudgaze, should the stupidly-named-yet-apropos subgenre exist. The self-titled set from Barsuk, out tomorrow (May 18), is light, thoughtful, solitary; the layered harmonies and the acoustic guitar structures seem practically intuitive, like songs you've already heard, but surprisingly just remember.

Tillman runs the vocal gamut between a man in love and one that's tortured by his love, with topics spanning personal sins to "the only man I ever loved/lived 2000 years before," an almost cheeky devotion to the Christian Lord and Savior, if it didn't sound so darn sincere. They're anthem-hymns, whether personal or universal.

I'd be remiss not mentioning Tillman is the brother of J. Tillman, drummer for Northwest darlings Fleet Foxes and a songwriter in his own right. Looks like something's long been at work in the Tillman family blood line.

I am obsessed with "Pearly Gate Music." I think it is one of the most lyrically creative and melodically sound albums so far this year.

Listen to the album in full at BrooklynVegan, who must've won the internet lottery. PGM is on tour with Frog Eyes, who also put out a killer record this year.

<p>Jamie Lidell's &quot;Compass&quot;</p>

Jamie Lidell's "Compass"

Credit: Warp

Album review: Jamie Lidell's 'Compass' is a strange trip

Crooner refuses to stay put, on both the album and in his career

Jamie Lidell has evidently been through some hell in the last couple years.

His newest "Compass" shows signs of suffering in between the humor and playfulness of his soul-centered jams. While dance party-inducing, electronic-heavy album "Multiply" (2005) or tracks like "Another Day" from 2008's "Jim" are what come to mind when it comes to the British singer and songwriter, you can't hold it against him that the formula has been shoved into a cage, rattled, and steps out as a darker, stranger animal.

Take "The Ring" for instance. It's still nasty, a Parliament-loving, linear floor-shaker, though the samples and Lidell's own wails rail dementedly in a downward spiral, more than the simple circle its title insinuates.

He channels more contemporary R&B singers like Cee-Lo and Robin Thicke -- as opposed to the more-frequently compared acts Al Green and Otis Redding -- on "She Needs Me," a Gospel-tinged sex song, the arrangement overwhelming and heavy, though is musicianship lithe and bursting with imagination, as far as tracks like it go.

Then there's the straight-up saddies like the title track (heard here) and, clocking in at 2:11, "I Can Love Again." On the latter, is it a declaration, a question, an affirmation? More like an exhilation, in that short amount of time, droopily posing, "Now you're gone... I can cry all by myself."

"You Are Waking" is the retort to that guy, like the flip-side to Lidell on a bad day, aggressively pressing the boundaries of his own vocal abilities. Long after that is standout "Big Drift," which should've been the tune to shine off this set with a bang instead of the "You See My Light," the acoustic whimper; it's a pretty typical choice for such a confessional album, but isn't strong enough of a send off dock of sad love and disillusion. Weak, too, is "Gypsy Blood," a misguided pop music stew.

Still, even with the missteps, it's and ecclectic, chance-taking set from Lidell, a boldstep forward I'm glad he's taking. Much like LCD Soundsystem's new effort "This Is Happening," "Compass" meanders and roils through a number of personal triumphs and upsets and, while both gentlemen could undoubtedly make crowd-pleasing dance numbers that could be manufactured in their sleep, they've challenged themselves and, in turn, the listener. Lidell got help along the way from co-producers like Beck and Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor, and well over a dozen collaborators (some celebrity, some not) to recognize this wild artifact. Only Lidell knows what launched him off on this tangent, but I'm thankful that it/he/she/they did.