In the late 1980's and early 1990's my partner Franco Palazzolo and I edited and published HYPE Magazine in New Yorks East Village
. A money losing labour of love, we are now putting all of the articles from issues one to twelve nto the public domain. This interview was originally published in HYPE NYC
, issue number one, April 1990.
Josh Cohen - I was hanging out with Mutant and the gals that make HYPE magazine, talking about DEVO and I said that I saw them at the Ritz in 1988 and then after the show there was a private show at the Palladium, where DEVO did 3 Dirty Tasteless Songs. They gave out xerox copies of the lyrics. Also, I happen to have Mark Motherhaugh's phone number because I stole it four years ago when I worked for Pee-Wee's Playhouse. He worked on the music. So, censorship being a hot issue these days, it was decided that I should try to call Mark M, the lead singer of DEVO, and ask permission to print his lyrics and get an interview if possible.
May I speak to Mark M?
? - Hold on a second
Mark - Hello?
J - Hi, my name is Josh Cohen and I'm calling from HYPE magazine, a small magazine...
M - How small?
J - Oh, about 10,000 copies
M - That's not that small!
J - Well, I'm not getting paid for this.
M - Oh, that is small!
J - Well, I saw your show in New York in 1988 at the Palladium, where you did Dirty Tasteless Songs, and we'd like permission to reprint the lyrics
M - Ok, just put copyright DEVO.
J - Ok, and I'd like to interview you about censorship.
M - Ok, when would you like to do this?
J - Well, now if it's alright with you.
M - OK
J - So, Ok, censorship...
M - We're totally against censorship, obviously. Well, not obviously, but we're totally against censorship. Freedom of speech is very important. Its between Madison Ave and our Big Brothers. People are more manipulated to think a certain way now more than ever. This video we're working on, Now was just censored sort of. The record company thought it wasn't funny enough. We were trying to do an anti-video video, we're in a car through the whole thing, and, well, after is was all done the record company added all these shots of a PRETTY GIRL. They own it, so they can do what they want. Well, they loaned us the money so we could make the video, which is the same thing in my book, ownership.
J - So, what else are you doing these days?
M - Things to keep us alive. We've got a very busy summer ahead of us. We've got four albums coming out this summer, or should I say CD's. I don't know if they're coming out on vinyl, too.
J - What are the four records?
M - First, there's a studio record called Smooth Noodle Maps, coming out in a couple of days. Smooth Noodle Maps is a computer technology that finds order in chaos, visually, which is kind of what we do, except in music. We've got two records coming out on Warner Brothers. Devos Greatest Hits - I guess we've made it, a greatest hits album, and Devos Greatest Misses, which is a lot of B sides and often overlooked songs for real DEVO fans, for the DEVO lunatic fringe. And being released in France on RYKODISC is Hard Core DEVO, performed between 1974 and 1977 in garages in Ohio, consisting of industrial rural DEVO blues. There may be a hardcore II, III and IV. There's enough material. We were in the middle of Ohio with no jobs, no money for drugs, no car and none of us liked to bowl, so we entertained ourselves in our basements. This music is all more hardcore than our first album.
J - Well, I guess I should ask you more about censorship.
M - From the beginning censorship was a problem for us. Ohio was NOT a hotbed of creativity as is often reported. We had to lie to get gigs. We would tell them we were a top 40 band. Then when we got up to play, people would throw bottles at us and then we were paid to quit.
J - Paid to quit? You were actually paid by the club to stop playing?
M - Many times. And then there was censorship on one of our earlier videos, for the song SATISFACTION. That was in England. They couldn't deal with Boogie Boy dying, an adult with a rubber mask, sticking a fork in a toaster, getting electrocuted. I guess they figured kids all over England would wind up sticking forks in toasters or something. Ridiculous. Another time we were censored was for the video for That's Good and a crinkle cut french fry flies through space into a glazed doughnut. They found that obscene. I said c'mon, you can't be serious! They wound up keeping the french fry and the doughnut, but they changed what they cut to immediately after. In the original version, your see a girl smiling. They replaced that with a shot of the same girl frowning. A frowning girl was OK, but a smiling girl was obscene. I guess they thought kids across the country couldn't deal with that image being burned into their consciousness.
J - Well, I guess I should ask about the Robert Mapplethorpe thing.
M - That's scary too. The only good thing is it might polarize people against the NEA and Jesse Helms. The really good people will avoid the NEA entirely. The NEA stamp of approval means the authority has got its condom in place, 10 year olds can watch it and absorb it. Its safe for idiots and morons.
J - What about 2 Live Crew?
M - I thought ME SO HORNY was funny. I got the album, and the other songs were just ok. They should be allowed to do what they do, c'mon. For one thing, its important to know that people like that are out there. Its like a social barometer. For example, Sam Kinson. I don't like his type of humor. But lots and lots of people out there actually do like him. That's interesting. I wouldn't want to stop the PTL or groups like the PTL as much as they repulse me. These people are the ones that are really obscene. Speak in tongues if you want to. Just don't make me do it. Or let me speak in my own tongue.
J - So what about Dirty Tasteless Songs from 1988?
M - I'm shocked that you would want to disseminate that kind of thing to all your readers!
J - You had a terrific, tight regular show at the Ritz and then later the same night you did a "private" show at the Palladium, where DEVO performed Dirty Tasteless Songs. I NEED A CHICK was done as a chant and was almost a spiritual experience. You handed out a xeroxed copy of the lyrics before you sang them. You said these were songs the record company would NOT allow you to release.
M - At that time we were on a different label. Now we're on the same label as 2 Live Crew. Maybe we'll come out with a DEVO LIVE CREW album.
J - You sounded like you were really into those Indian and Iranian TV stations. Did that effect your music?
M - Oh, I know they have. There was this Indian song entitled "I'm a Disco", and that definitely inspired a song we did called "Disco Dancer".
J - So, anything else on censorship?
M - What do you think about censorship?
J - Well, I think a few companies like Time-Warner are buying up a lot of the media, and they lean way to the right. There are a few rich people who want to control what people think. I also believe there are a lot of people out there that are humanistic and have a good heart. So there is hope.
M - Yeah, people walking around these days are informed. They know lots of things. The problem is misinformation. They don't know if a spotted owl is keeping 10,000 people out of work or a few greedy companies are destroying the Redwood Forests. That's why HYPE magazine is so important. In the future, all Time-Warner publications will have to include an issue of HYPE magazine as an insert. As someone else said, the virus cell that found itself inside the human system has more of a problem than the body has dealing with it. And there's too much Robitussen around.
J - So, in that analogy, HYPE magazine would be the virus and the mainstream media the body?
M - Yeah, and Robitussen kills viruses. Oh, nevermind all of this. Call me tomorrow and we'll do the REAL interview.
J - What? I should throw away all this work?
M - Well, I'm not going to tell you what to write. I wouldn't want to censor you. I've got to go now. If you need any help finishing, feel free to call me, OK?
J - Ok, bye
M - Bye
I NEED A CHICK
I need a chick to suck my dick
I need a dog to lick my log
I need a cat to stroke my bat
I'm pukin and shitin' and dyin' of thirst
I ain't got no field to plow
There's no hole for my pole
I'd fuck a mink stole
I need a woman who understands
There's nothing more spiritual than dog style love
And when I find her
I'm going to get down on my knees
I'm going to eat her
'cause she's the moon
COPYRIGHT 1988-1990 DEVO