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Primary Wave acquires stake in the music publishing catalog and master recordings of rock pioneers DEVO!

July 23rd, 2020


NEW YORK, N.Y. (July 23, 2020) – Primary Wave Music Publishing, the leading independent publisher of iconic and legendary music, announced today a deal that will see them acquire a stake in the music publishing catalog and master recordings of one of the most innovative bands, Devo. The acquisition includes some of the Grammy-nominated band’s biggest hits such as “Whip It,” “That’s Good,” “Girl U Want,” “Freedom of Choice,” and more. Devo will now have access to Primary Wave’s publishing infrastructure, which includes digital strategy, marketing, licensing, synch opportunities and film & TV production.

“As a founder of Devo, the band and the concept, I feel the evidence of real De-evolution is growing daily,” says Gerald Casale. He continues, “Devo is relevant to current culture and I am excited that Primary Wave finds our body of work ripe for growing the Devo brand into the future. In partnership with them we hope to fortify our legacy.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome such an innovative band – a band that was so ahead of their time – to the Primary Wave family,” says Adam Lowenberg, Chief Marketing Officer at Primary Wave. He goes on, “I have personally been a long-time fan of Devo, and their music has stood the test of time. Our team looks forward to bringing new life to their classic songs.”

Formed in Akron, Ohio, in 1972 by Kent State art students Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo is considered to be one of new wave’s most innovative bands. Taking their name from their concept of “de-evolution”, their music echoed this view of society as rigid, repressive, and mechanical. Devo became a cult sensation, helped in part by their concurrent emphasis on highly stylized visuals, and briefly broke through to the mainstream with the smash single “Whip It,” whose accompanying video was made a staple by the fledgling MTV network. Devo’s simple, basic electronic pop sound proved very influential. They were, by design, a groundbreaking, multi-media band. Mark and Gerald created every band graphic concept and marketing plan. Gerald directed 21 of their videos including “Whip It” and “Satisfaction,” as well as designing the innovative stage shows and costumes which includes the infamous Devo “Energy Dome” red hat.

The first incarnation of Devo was formed in earnest in 1972, with Casale (bass), Mark Mothersbaugh (vocals), and Mark’s brothers Bob (lead guitar) and Jim, who played homemade electronic drums. Jerry’s brother Bob joined as an additional guitarist, and Jim left the band, to be replaced by Alan Myers. The group honed its sound and approach for several years, releasing a few singles on its own Booji Boy label. Devo’s big break came with their score for the short film The Truth About De-Evolution, which won a prize at the 1976 Ann Arbor Film Festival; when the film was seen by David Bowie and Iggy Pop, they were impressed enough to secure the group a contract with Warner Bros. While 1979’s Duty Now for the Future was another strong effort, the band broke through to the mainstream with 1980’s Freedom of Choice, which contained the gold-selling single “Whip It.” They continued to release music throughout the ’80s and early 90’s, and in 2007, Devo returned to release their own material with the single “Watch Us Work It,” a song for Dell Computers that played during the Superbowl. In 2008 Devo returned to Akron for a rare show in support of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, with all proceeds going toward the Summit County Democratic Party. By the end of 2009, work resumed on a new album and it was announced that they had once again signed with Warner. An Internet campaign where fans got to choose the full-length’s 12 tracks inspired the 2010 effort, Something for Everybody.