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Godspeed Human Metronome
June 26, 2013 6:51 AM   Subscribe

Alan Myers, drummer for Devo during their seminal '76-'85 period, has died.

Myers joined Devo in 1976, replacing Jim Mothersbaugh, and with his addition came a unique gelling of their sound that would lead to Myers being dubbed 'The Human Metronome' by his bandmates. For the next 10 years he played on influential album after influential album, including their Brian Eno-produced debut full-length album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, 1979's Duty Now for the Future, and 1980's best-selling Freedom of Choice (containing the should've-been hit Gates of Steel). He left the band in 1985 during the troubled recording of the frequently-maligned Total Devo, saying that his importance in the band had been overshadowed by the group's increasing use of the Fairlight synthesizer and associated rhythm programming and sampling.

A small selection of The Human Metronome in action:

- Devo - [I Can't Get No] Satisfaction, 1977 music video
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Devo- Mongoloid + Gut Feeling, '77 live
-Devo interview, 1978
-Devo - The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprise - 1978 music video
-"You guys're so... techno, y'know?" - if you've never seen footage of them playing before, this is why people fucking LOVE this band: Devo play Uncontrollable Urge on TV's Fridays, 1980
- Devo - Girl U Want, 1980 music video
-Devo as Dove, the band of Love - Shrivel Up, from the 1980 comedy Pray TV
- Devo as Dove, the Band of Love - Worried Man, live 1980
-Devo as Dove, the Band of Love - Praying Hands + Shrivel Up, live 1980
-Devo live in concert, 1980
- Devo - Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy, live 1980
-Devo - Through Being Cool - 1981 music video
- Devo - Uncontrollable Urge - live from 1981's Urgh! A Music War
-Devo - Jocko Homo, live '82
- Devo - That's Good, 1983 music video
posted by item (74 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
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Thanks for the excellent post.
posted by Gelatin at 6:57 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, this is sad news, indeed.

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posted by Thorzdad at 6:59 AM on June 26, 2013


Easily one of my all-time favorite drummers, up there with Jaki Liebezeit and Mo Tucker in terms of creative drumming making a band's sound something very special and unique.
posted by item at 6:59 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh that Alan!

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posted by Strange Interlude at 6:59 AM on June 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


R.I.P. Mr. Myers.
Great post.
posted by chococat at 6:59 AM on June 26, 2013


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posted by eriko at 6:59 AM on June 26, 2013


Without Myers, Devo were a more clever than average artsy synth band. With Myers, they were punk as fuck, and among the tightest of bands. Those old songs were hugely influential to me and they hold up really well, god, 30 years later.

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posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:59 AM on June 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


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I'm feeling this live Satisfaction clip, with nice commentary from GVC.

I used to love challenging myself to mix that drum intro into a DJ set.
posted by activitystory at 7:00 AM on June 26, 2013


I never saw Devo live, but I did catch them on Letterman supporting Oh, No! It's Devo! and on the TV show Square Pegs, both of which were during Meyer's time as their drummer.
posted by Gelatin at 7:04 AM on June 26, 2013


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posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:04 AM on June 26, 2013


Boo, death.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:05 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 7:08 AM on June 26, 2013


My all-time favorite Myers drumbeat: "Find Out"
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:08 AM on June 26, 2013


Shitty news to wake up to this morning. Fuck.

Safe journey, Alan, and thank you.

*plays DEVO Corporate Anthem, salutes*
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:09 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by tilde at 7:12 AM on June 26, 2013


Wow, calling Alan "The Human Metronome" really does him a discredit. He's way more fluid and organic than that, even while giving the illusion of being robotic. That's where the brilliance lies.
posted by scrowdid at 7:12 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


He didn't seem to mind the nick.
posted by item at 7:19 AM on June 26, 2013


Death.
wat r u doin
Death
Stahp
posted by srboisvert at 7:22 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by fings at 7:26 AM on June 26, 2013


Devo was my favorite band in the 80s, it pretty much defined my life. This massively sad.
posted by happyroach at 7:27 AM on June 26, 2013


I remember seeing that performance from "Fridays", and loving it. Was already a fan but the way they choreographed that piece was great. "Fridays booked much more interesting bands than SNL back then.
posted by evilelf at 7:28 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fridays booked much more interesting bands than SNL back then.

Devo had already appeared on SNL two years before they were on Fridays. SNL actually had a surprisingly diverse roster of musical guests in those first five years.
posted by item at 7:35 AM on June 26, 2013


Devo is one of my favorite bands ever. Like, ever. Their vision of a corporate America looked ridiculous in its day, but the entire culture owes them an apology in hindsight.

Love that band so much.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:35 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember seeing that performance from "Fridays", and loving it. Was already a fan but the way they choreographed that piece was great. "Fridays booked much more interesting bands than SNL back then.

Actually they played on SNL first. They first appeared on Fridays on May 23, 1980, and they had already been on SNL, which was my favorite SNL musical appearance of all time: Oct 14, 1978.

On preview... yep.
posted by bitslayer at 7:40 AM on June 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


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posted by cazoo at 7:44 AM on June 26, 2013


Going to listen to Devo Live: The Mongoloid Years at least 4 times today in memoriam. I just can't get enough Satisfaction otherwise.
Thank you Alan Myers.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:51 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]



posted by nicepersonality at 7:56 AM on June 26, 2013


I'll just say it: "Satisfaction" is the best cover of all time, in no small way thanks to the beat.

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posted by Beardman at 7:57 AM on June 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


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posted by Faint of Butt at 8:01 AM on June 26, 2013


Gentleman Caller will be heartbroken.

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posted by pxe2000 at 8:02 AM on June 26, 2013


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posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 8:06 AM on June 26, 2013


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posted by drezdn at 8:13 AM on June 26, 2013


Ω
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:14 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are Eye Pee
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:20 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


All my friends, and me, are so happy about the political situation and can't understand why I'm bummed about some guy they never heard of. I have a man/atom/beaker icon from Duty Now For The Future tattooed on my left arm. Rest in peace spudboy.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:31 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just copy/pasting from my Facebook because I'm too mentally worn out to do a different one: Ladies and gentlemen, please remove your hats and cover your hearts for our departed spud, Alan Myers. He goes to a better place, where the ninnies and twits are eliminated, beautiful mutants roam the bountiful land, and we are All Devo.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:39 AM on June 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


my favorite SNL musical appearance of all time: Oct 14, 1978 vimeo .

Thanks for linking that.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:43 AM on June 26, 2013


Well, Hell.
The man was like a clock, he made their asymmetrical time signatures rock with fury. Girl You Want is a total masterpiece as were most of his contributions.

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posted by djrock3k at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2013


Never trust anyone who dislikes Devo.

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posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:02 AM on June 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


I really owe Devo so much. Not just for all the great music that still holds up and still occasionally pops in to the back of mind. See, there were lots of bands in 1978 that said "Good is boring, come be bad with us". But that wasn't me. Devo said "Normal is boring. Be weird." I said yes, and that has made all the difference.

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posted by benito.strauss at 9:23 AM on June 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


Oh, my, this is a sad day for music.

What a distinctive musician. Without him, I really don't think the band would have broken through...

I wonder how old he was - he couldn't have been that old when they first broke through...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:37 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


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Mash 'em.
posted by mintcake! at 9:43 AM on June 26, 2013


Sad news. I saw Devo in 1980 in Portland...great show, really weird crowd. Punk rock and new wave hadn't really caught on up there yet, but man, they rocked the place.

My brother-in-law hired him for some electrical work a couple of years ago; apparently he was quite an electrician as well.

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posted by malocchio at 9:45 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The beginning of the end of "In The Beginning Was The End".

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posted by monster free city at 9:47 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by brevator at 10:18 AM on June 26, 2013


I so absolutely love Devo. So sad about this. Some friends of mine and I were DEVO for Night of the Living Tribute Bands in Olympia last Halloween, and surprisingly, stole the show. I have to believe that's because there's a little spudboy yearning to breathe free in all of us.


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posted by stenseng at 10:22 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by vibrotronica at 10:31 AM on June 26, 2013


I've found that the purpose of having a body is to show that the physical world is an illusion.

Fuck, man. I owe you everything.
posted by 0 at 10:32 AM on June 26, 2013


SNL actually had a surprisingly diverse roster of musical guests in those first five years.

That was Belushi's doing I think.

I will never forget watching Devo on SNL.

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posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:02 AM on June 26, 2013


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posted by klausness at 12:22 PM on June 26, 2013



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posted by droplet at 12:26 PM on June 26, 2013


As a teen in the 80s in central Iowa I was nearly totally alone in my love for Devo, surrounded by hair metal and throwaway pop enthusiasts. Duty Now For The Future was just mind-blowing to me back then, and it still is.

God, Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA. So good.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:32 PM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I will listen to any of the first four albums for no reason anytime, but there's a soft spot in my heart for Duty Now For The Future, because it is the sound of a band that cares fuck all about being loved. It's abrasive and sneering and cheerfully fascist, like a Brutalist concrete office building covered in grafitti. It's punk as hell and it doesn't sound punk at all.

I loves it, and I loves Devo.

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posted by murphy slaw at 12:47 PM on June 26, 2013


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posted by trip and a half at 1:11 PM on June 26, 2013


Oh God. Back in 1985 in high-school, four or five of us weirdos passed around a VHS copy of We're All Devo until it wore out. When it was my turn with it, I'd keep it hidden in my sock drawer, like worse than porno, because I wouldn't have any idea how to explain it to my parents. They'd have sent me to a psychologist over that sort of thing, and I'm not even kidding.

If you live in a small town
You might meet a dozen or two
Young alien types who step out
And dare to declare
We're through being cool

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posted by Cookiebastard at 1:24 PM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Devo is my all time favorite band, and it's a real bummer to lose a former (and formative) member so soon.

Alan was already out of the band by the time I finally got to see them live, but I'd always loved his work, particularly on the odd-tempo songs like Freedom of Choice, Gut Feeling, and of course the impossibly odd Satisfaction.

The latter made for an amusing moment in the live show, with new drummer David Kendrick playing. Early in the song, it was clear that someone had gotten off on the wrong downbeat, and they were going to have trouble finishing the song unless they could correct it soon. Normally it would be up to the drummer to add an extra fill or a stutter-step so that everyone would fall back into line. But it was obviously taking all of Kendrick's concentration to just keep up the main beat without completely losing it.

Finally, they got to a point where they could not continue, the whole song fell apart, and they all stopped. Mark says "Well, shit. Should we try it again from the top or just screw it?" Needless to say we all cheered for a do-over, which they proceeded to play perfectly to thunderous approval.

A great moment, if only to remind us how important Alan really was to the band.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:33 PM on June 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Since I made this post I've come across two facts that I left out: Myers was only 58 years old and he died of brain cancer. Christ, brain cancer. S.I.B. indeed
posted by item at 1:34 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


*stands at attention and salutes*

The DEVOlutionary Army has lost a charter member. The Human Metronome is at rest.

Duty Now for the Future.

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posted by SansPoint at 1:41 PM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is so sad. Alan is my favorite drummer ever, and DEVO is a huge part of my life. I've often thought about getting the very same tattoo DecemberBoy has/describes.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyone who could play drums on something like "Jocko Homo" was a genius, no question.

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posted by Halloween Jack at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, that Alan. :(

I'm crushed. My junior high boy band was Devo, while my friends were drooling over New Kids on the Block. Devo is #1 on my Holy Trinity of Music. Heck, I used to do a podcast about Devo called Positive Mutations.

Spotify just added the Hardcore albums (with the new covers). So I'm listening to those. (Yes, I know Jungle Jim played on some of these tracks.) The "Booji Boy" version of Satisfaction is brilliant.

The earth is all we know, we pay to play the human way. . . forever asking why some people go on living while others die before their time.

. . . .
posted by luckynerd at 2:44 PM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by arkham_inmate_0801 at 2:50 PM on June 26, 2013


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posted by schyler523 at 3:17 PM on June 26, 2013


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posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:36 PM on June 26, 2013


Really enjoyed his playing on Gut Feeling

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posted by telstar at 4:33 PM on June 26, 2013


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posted by immlass at 5:01 PM on June 26, 2013


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posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:59 PM on June 26, 2013


Damn. He's dead, and the guy who stole my first edition of Devo's first record is still alive. I wish it was reversed.

OK time to do something I save for increasingly rare special occasions, as it against my doctor's orders. I will put on my headphones and play some electric guitar along to DEVO records, and destroy a little more of what little hearing I have left. I think tonight I will start with "uncontrollable urge" and "be stiff." These are some of the songs that, when I am deaf, will play themselves inside my head when I am only barely able to feel the drumbeat.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:32 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by scody at 6:41 PM on June 26, 2013


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frp4AtPshRo

Always liked Devo in the Heavy Metal bar scene/fight. Partially NSFW perhaps.
posted by buzzman at 8:31 PM on June 26, 2013


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posted by spitefulcrow at 8:15 AM on June 27, 2013


We're all DEVO!

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posted by mistersquid at 1:09 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remembered last night that I actually passed up a chance to meet Alan at a Devo show back in '05. I figured he was there to quietly watch the show, and didn't want to disturb him.
posted by luckynerd at 2:03 PM on June 27, 2013


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posted by radwolf76 at 8:19 AM on June 28, 2013


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