As a Devo fan, you learn how to decode the band's songs and videos for political messages. They are rarely subtle, and they're always, generically, anti-authority. "Don't Shoot (I'm a Man," a single from their 2010 comeback record, ends with Mark Mothersbaugh singing "Don't taze me bro! Don't taze me bro!" It's a reference to a weirdly unforgettable, on-video tazing of a student who asked John Kerry a rambling question -- no real political message, just anger at the kind of world where that happens.
This brings us to the band's new single, "Don't Roof Rack Me, Bro (Seamus Unleashed)." Rolling Stone (fittingly!) beat everyone else to the story of how Devo's Jerry Casale teamed with Dogs Against Romney. But I am not one to pass up an interview with Akron's finest. Earlier today, I asked Casale why, after all these years, the Seamus Romney incident so angered him.
"It's disconcerting," he said. "I could even say that I'm pissed off. I am an animal lover. This story is not about being from a red or blue state, being a Democrat or Republican. There are seven billion people on a planet that's going to hell in handbasket. The United States is the most formidable force on the planet. And do you want a man whose character is like that to take charge? It just tells me something about him. He'll do more harm than has already been done."
This was a different sort of political song for Devo, wasn't it? There was none of the eschatology of "Beautiful World" or genetic panic of really early Devo. "Yeah, this song is more of a parody," said Casale. "It's a lament for poor Seamus. Devo is too world-weary to take some simplistic WWF point of view. Our view is that we're in trouble already, and we don't need Mitt. Basically the choices between American public are choice between Pepsi and Coke, a man totally owned by special interests and corporations, told what to do -- like the scene in Network, where the stars are told to say what the bosses want if they don't want to wind up dead. The candidates are figureheads. They're not running the show. But figureheads are still important! Look at the Queen of England -- she's good at the figurehead role. To me, the Romney dog story is just a character deal-breaker."
I'd already seen Casale offer a dim opinion of Obama, though. Devo campaigned for him in 2008; Devo was pretty much done with him now. Was Romney so much worse?
"Yes, Romney's lacking in both humanity and intelligence. He reminds me of R. Bob Dobbs, the icon of the Church of the Subgenius. Take the pipe out of R. Bob Dobbs' mouth and who is he?"
R. Bob Dobbs is pictured above.