Talking de-evolution with Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh 

Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh recently passed a unique alt-rock milestone — he turned 60. “But I didn’t brag about it,” he says, “60 is one of those numbers where you could go, ‘Hey, I’m 60 everybody,’ or you can be like, ‘I’m in an ageist industry, so I’ll just kind of lay low with the numbers.’” Now 61, he’s still the same big kid he was two decades ago with Devo’s prescient, de-evolution-predicting “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo,” along with a kinetic new album, “Something for Everybody,” a line of Devo merchandise and the kooky “Mark’s Magic Pictures” segment on children’s show “Yo Gabba Gabba.”

You’ve seen Mike Judge’s dead-on “Idiocracy.” De-evolution is happening, right? Yeah. And we weren’t supporting it — we were only reporting it. But people were either angry, thinking we were cynical jerks, or they thought we were silly clowns — either way, nobody took us seriously. They thought “That’s impossible!” But the biggest surprise to us was how little control humans really have over their own destiny. If you look at what’s happened in the last 25 years, it’s hard to find people that don’t agree with you that things have devolved.

Humanity, as a species, looks doomed to extinction, doesn’t it? Well, when I was in college, back in the early ’70s, it was just a matter of mathematics — we’d managed to survive a little too successfully as a species. And whatever that primordial mechanism is that can only see survival as a small family unit and not as the big picture of the world? That’s the mechanism that’s outmoded, that we need to change somehow. But it looks like instead, as a species, we’re going to wait for Mother Nature to do the adjustment herself.

The planet will save itself — the planet will be here long after we’re gone. But there has to be a mindset change, and it’ll take something Earth-shattering to do it — like, “all right, every single fish is gone now.”

It’s ironic — today’s technology can make Devo sound great. But it can also kill us, no? Well, technology is benign. It’s the human mind that’s using it that makes the difference. There’s a big difference between atomic power and atomic bombs, or atomic pollution. The idea isn’t what’s dangerous — it’s the way it gets implemented.

But you’ve kept your childlike sense of wonder through all this? Yeah — that’s my basic outlook. We know what’s coming. Death is inevitable. But I finally found someone who was smart enough to talk me into adopting some kids, so that was a great thing. So you never know what great things will happen, if you leave yourself open for it.



Where: The Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce Road, Saratoga
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $52 to $106.25

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Tom Lanham

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