One of the most iconoclastic acts to emerge from the American New Wave movement in the late 70s, Devo’s long and productive lifespan belies the assumptions of those who dismissed the group as a novelty act during its original heyday. Along the way, the Ohio-bred Art-Punk sci-fi surrealists managed to break into America's mainstream pop consciousness. Although they've shifted styles numerous times, from jagged Punk to bouncy Synth Pop to ironic Easy Listening and back again, Devo has remained true to its conceptual origins, while maintaining the playful sense of subversion with which it started.
Devo's central concept of "devolution" — the premise that the human race has finished evolving and is now regressing into a less civilized state — was first developed by Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis in the late 60s, while both were students at Kent State University, and became the basis for a series of comic art pieces. The concept expanded after the pair met Mark Mothersbaugh, and took on a new level of seriousness in the wake of the National Guardsmen's shooting of four unarmed student protesters on May 4, 1970 – an incident members would later cite as a pivotal inspiration in the band's formation.
With two sets of brothers, Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh and Gerald and Bob Casale, as the band's core, Devo made its musical debut in a one-off performance at an arts festival in 1973. Various Devo lineups performed sporadically over the next few years, introducing much of the band's trademark imagery – yellow jumpsuits, red “energy dome” hats resembling upside-down flowerpots — along with the band's infantile mascot Booji Boy.
Devo released its first indie single, "Mongoloid"/"Jocko Homo,” in 1976; soon after the band won a record deal with Warner Bros., thanks in part to the support of fan David Bowie.
Brian Eno signed on as producer of Devo's 1978 debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! Its 1979 follow-up, Duty Now for the Future, moved the band in a more electronic, less overtly satirical direction, as did 1980's Freedom of Choice. The latter produced a Top 20 hit with "Whip It," whose success allowed the band to tour with the sort of elaborate stage presentation for which it would become known. After the band's 1990 album Smooth Noodle Maps met with a cool reception, Devo quietly went on hiatus.
The '90s saw the release of several archival Devo albums. Meanwhile, Mark Mothersbaugh launched a career creating music for films, TV, and video games, while Gerald Casale became a successful director of commercials and music videos. Devo began playing sporadic live performances again in 1996, while recording some new songs for use in soundtracks and commercials. In 2010, Devo released Something for Everybody, its first album of new material in 20 years.