Devo Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (Warner) There's weird - and then there's Devo. The American band have carved out a niche in the history of rock. Early Devo were as much performance artists as rock band. They mixed electronic sounds and fractured time signatures with an image based around boiler suits, plastic flowerpot hats, mechanical body movements and rubber babies' masks. The main idea behind Devo was that American suburbs were weird places. That perception is commonplace today, but it was new when Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! was released. Devo formed in 1972, and they tried to give the impression they were not individuals but a singular unit of devolved automatons. Devo stands for 'Devolution', a cheeky theory that claims suburban Americans have 'devolved' into subhuman robots. In reality, the band were led by two sets of brothers, Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh and Jerry and Bob Casale. Drummer Alan Myers rounded out the lineup. Devo started their career with a 10-minute video called The Truth About De-Evolution. The film clearly stated the band's philosophy. The boiler-suited group slam through two songs against the background of a dystopic industrial landscape. The film won a prize at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 1975, and was later seen by David Bowie, who was impressed and offered to produce Devo's first LP. When Q: Are We Not Men? appeared in 1978, it wasn't Bowie behind the controls but sonic explorer and Bowie collaborator Brian Eno. The match was a good one. Although guitar was still the primary instrument, the album sounds nothing like guitar rock. The drums, though played by Myers, sound mechanised, while the synths pop in the background. The vocals are brisk and staccato, and the time signatures meander. It sounded odd in 1978, and it sounds even odder today. Q: Are We Not Men? was a long time in gestation, and it shows - there's not a dull track on it. Come Back Jonee is a mutant Johnny B. Goode, while a cover of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction strips out the classic fuzz guitar riff and replaces it with jerky rhythms. Jocko Homo, with its repeated lines, 'We are not men/ We are Devo', is totally bonkers. Some controversy was caused by the track Mongoloid, which claimed that Down's syndrome children are 'happier than you and me'. Q: Are We Not Men? established Devo as a musical force, and their career blossomed until the early 1980s. Devo ran out of steam and lost their recording contract in 1983. The band have continued in one form or another, although new material has not been forthcoming. Devo recently announced they would perform the whole of Q: Are We Not Men? live in London and are planning an album of new material. It's Devolution time again.