The History of PunkHistory of Punk
The story of punk told by Stefano Gilardino
Just in time for the anniversary of the release of Never Mind The Bollocks in 1977, Here's The Sex Pistols, an undisputed masterpiece of punk, The Story of Punk (Hoepli), the new book by Stefano Gilardino, is released. Each of the sections of the book also contains a discography with more than 200 titles proposed to trace the history of punk in the first person.
1976 was the year zero in the history of rocks, the year in which music began again, with new energies and new influences. Punkrock, in contrast to his most famous motto - no future - has instead shown that he has a very bright one and not only in the musical field.
From the great protagonists of the sixties and the godfathers of punk such as Lou Reed, MC5 and Iggy Pop, Stefano Gilardino's The History of Punk chronologically traces the birth, rise and continuous development of a genre that has revolutionized the history of Rock. Considering his roots, those of Stooges, Velvet Underground, New York Dolls and MC5, Punk changed the course of history with Sex Pistols and Ramones in the U.K. and Great Britain, before developing into dozens of equally revolutionary subgenres such as hard-core, post-punk, mo and metal-core.
Outside the classical maps of musical mythology, Device is one of the most radical reinventions of pop music, created by the combination of bad electronics, punk, movies, videos and lots of genius. The tyre factories," recalls bassist and singer Gerard Casale, "closed the factories, it was a sad situation, mainly because of the economic crisis that had arisen.
The group' first steps date back to 1974, when a first cast of non-aligned musicians and artists was found for a rehearsal: there were the three brothers Maxothersbaugh - Mark and Bob, who will continue, and Jim, who will go before success - and the two brothers Casale, Gerard and Bob, supported by his friend Bob Lewis.
The first steps, which will be released later in the Hardcore Devo collections, are if possible even more radical and avant-garde than what will happen later. These raw fragments already contain all the characteristics of the quintet: a personal use of electronics achieved with homemade percussions and synthesizers, the mocking and ironic lyrics, a robotic trend highlighted by the spastic movements of the Five, the attraction for everything on the sidelines (but also for primary popular culture), the desire to make fun of the seriousness of rock music and its machismo.
The first photos of Devo, even before the yellow suits came into play, which become a real trademark (in the truest sense of the word, as they have their origin), show them revealing an almost disturbing thinness without a chest and reversing the banal stereotypes of the rock stars of the seventies.
The underground series, in which the line-up stabilizes with two Mothersbaughs, two Casale and the entrance of drummer Alan Myers, give dozens of unreleased songs, some video clips (Secret Agent Man and Jocko Homo) and the first live appearances: not exactly an announced success. Well, then we were the ones who performed at the concerts in the yellow suits and there the mess broke out, maybe we reminded them of the factories they hated so much.
In March 77 a single with Mongoloid and Jocko Homo was released in full punk explosion, immediately followed by the EP Be Stiff, but both went almost unnoticed in the United States. But live the quintet begins to celebrate and create a fanatical fan base, also thanks to an unprecedented stage presence: the famous yellow suits that take turns with other fantastic disguises (helmets, knee pads and elbow pads for skaters, cowboys), simple black athletic shorts, all from Devo just to stop in the first hour.
The real stroke of luck comes shortly after, when Bob 1 (Mothersbaugh, Bob 2 will be Casale) manages to find his way into the stage of a concert of Iguana himself. The result, as Casale calls it, is Q: Aren't we humans? The pieces show a fundamental change, with the assimilation of ascending punk and a higher speed of execution that makes them perfect for the new world scene.
Despite an obvious fundamental difference, the punk movement is perfect to accept an extreme and radical proposal like hers and rewards the second work with great enthusiasm. The classics of Duty Now For The Future that come out when punk music turns into post-punk or new wave are called Blockhead, The day my babe Gave Me A Surprise, Smart Patrol/Mr. D.N.A. and Wiggly World, introduced by a beautiful theme that will accompany the group for decades, Devo Corporate Anthem.
Jerry Casale's words will prove to be truly prophetic as the 80s begin with the group's most successful album, which will go from the fans' niche to the top of the charts (often with the reputation of "sold"). It will be the Snowball cover and the classic U Want girls who will definitely present their name to the general public, interrupting any connection to the scene and punk music.
Even the abandonment of the yellow suits, replaced by black leather jackets and the famous hat "Energy Dome" (the flower vase, just to make it clear...), shows a different and more stylish way. The next triplet of albums, two of which with Dave Kendrick instead of the retired Myers, contribute nothing to the story and drag Devo tiredly to the inevitable resolution that took place in 1991, as Mark Mothersbaugh remembers:
It won't be long before a whole new generation of musicians cites their name as a source of inspiration (from Nine Inch Nails to Soundgarden) and the brothers Casale and Mothersbaugh, this time accompanied by drummer Josh Freese - for him Vandals, A Perfect Circle and dozens of other collaborations - decide to get Devo back on his feet for a few sporadic gigs.
Active (but very quiet) for all 2000s, the five also have time to record a good record, Something For Everybody, before fate takes Bob Casale away in 2014 (Alan Myers had already died the year before). When we found these suits in a factory, we realized that their visual value was exactly what we were looking for, they gave us an instantly recognizable look and at the same time made us look like aliens raining from the future.
Writer and music journalist Stefano Gilardino began his career on his own and founded the 80s Senza Nome punk hit franchise. He wrote the book 100 dischi ideali per capeire il punk (Editori Riuniti, 2006) and worked on writing the cards of 1000 concerts that changed the life of Ezio Guaitamacchi (Rizzoli, 2010).