Long before Devo's "Whip It" became a staple of MTV, the Akron natives were treating its music as a visual art form. "Wherever we performed, we stretched sheets in front of the stage and showed our films on a movie projector we rented from the Akron library," says Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh of the band's early days. Akron honors its hometown heroes Aug. 15 with a street art installation of Janet Macoska's iconic 1978 Chili Dog Mac band portrait. The 6-foot-tall artwork is going up on a building next to the Akron Civic Theatre in the original spot of the long-defunct hot dog joint. The ceremony with band member Gerald Casale and free chili dogs and tacos coincides with the DEVOtional fest at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern Aug. 14 and 15. Now based in Los Angeles, the 65-year-old Mothersbaugh has written music for ads, TV shows and feature films, and is currently working on a forthcoming Pee-wee Herman movie.
It's a very cool photo. But to my knowledge, I never ate [at Chili Dog Mac]. Food was just a trick so you would spend money that was needed for recording tape. I remember asking my girlfriend if we could eat crackers and drink tea all weekend so I could buy tape at
Devo was darn proud of our new hazardous waste outfits, and we felt like puttin' on the Ritz. I could be wrong, but the day that picture was taken we were shooting video for "[I Can't Get No] Satisfaction." Devo was a little bit like the Little Rascals — we made our own films, came up with our own costumes and wrangled our own props.
We were always proud of being from Akron. Our first record was big in England before anyone was playing it here. It got to the point where record companies from England were coming over here to sign artists from Akron.
Our fans are people that have seen the truth. Devo fans tend to be smarter and better looking than a cross-section of humans. There's substance. That's why they persist with these DEVOtionals. My favorite part is they tend to do their own reinterpretations of Devo songs, and they almost always top our versions. — as told to Barry Goodrich