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As skateboarding’s second wave kicked into gear during the late 1970s, key bands fueled the new direction of the counterculture. Chiefly among them, DEVO’s fast and jerky new sound fit perfectly, embodying the faster and looser style unchained by urethane, the Z-Boys low-to-the-ground style, and the aggressive edge they brought with them. The band itself performed gigs with skaters, had pros such as Tony Alva and Steve Olson skating in their videos (“Freedom of Choice”), and even played at a number of skateparks. Since the ’70s, DEVO has appeared in countless skate video soundtracks from brands including Vans, Powell-Peralta, Real, Anti Hero, Slave, Creature, Cliché, Polar, Lakai, Santa Cruz, Habitat, Zero, Foundation, Thrasher, Big Brother, Volcom, Nike, video games such as EA Skate and even the Dogtown and Z-Boys documentary itself—permanently fusing their sound with the act of skateboarding for four generations of practitioners.
Formed in Akron, Ohio, in 1972, DEVO based their theory of de-evolution of American society following the Kent State shootings, which were witnessed by founding member and Kent State student Gerald Casale. After a ’78 gig on Saturday Night Live and their cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” DEVO exploded onto the music charts. Quickly endorsed by David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and a number of other successful artists, their first three albums—Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo, Duty Now For The Future, and Freedom of Choice–topped charts and have been cited by Rolling Stone as some of the most influential of the ’70s and ’80s. Whip it, indeed!