Gerald V. Casale is one of the founding members of post-punk/new wave music pioneers Devo. He, and fellow Kent State University students Bob Lewis and Mark Mothersbaugh toyed with the idea of devolution, a joke theory that mankind was regressing, not advancing. However, on May 4, 1970, as members of the Ohio National Guard shot four unarmed student protestors, the joke ceased to be funny. Devolution, to Gerald was real. Three years later, the first incarnation of the art project cum rock band Devo was born.
Gerald V. Casale himself was born on July 28, 1948, six weeks premature. In 1952, he was joined by a brother, Robert Casale, later known as "Bob 2". Casale went to Kent state in the late 60s, an idealistic hippie. He joined the student art scene, engaging in performance art before there was such a term. One of his most infamous projects was a coat covered in tampons, dipped in red, blue, and yellow paint. He was also a musician, playing electric bass. Casale actually joined a local Akron band, 15-60-75, also known as The Numbers Band. Casale's bizarre artistic nature conflicted with The Numbers' blues aesthetic. Gerald would suggest that they work in Burger King jingles into their songs as that was the music of the times. This came full circle in the Devo song Too Much Paranoias, which used the chorus "Hold the pickles / Hold the lettuce / Special orders don't upset us / All we ask is that you let us serve it your way!" Casale was kicked out of the band for slipping on a monkey mask during a concert.
Working with Bob Lewis, and Mark Mothersbaugh, Casale decided to focus his opinions on devolution into music. The results was the Sextet Devo who perfomed at the 1973 KSU Creative Arts Festival. (An excerpt from this performance is avaliable on The Complete Truth About De-Evolution.) Casale played bass, Bob Lewis, and Robert Casale on electric guitar, a friend of Casale's Rod Reismann on drums, Mark Mothersbaugh in an ape mask on keyboards and Mellotron, and Casale's roommate Fred Weber on vocals. The line-up onl worked for one show, and for the 1974 Performing Arts festival the first official Devo lineup took the stage - Gerald Casale on bass and vocals, Robert Casale on guitar and vocals, Mark Mothersbaugh on keyboards and vocals, and Jim Mothersbaugh on homemade electronic drums. This lineup would further change, adding Robert Mothersbaugh on guitars, and Alan Myers to replace Jim Motherbaugh's electronic drums with real ones. Alan would be replaced by David Kendrick, and in the 90s, Josh Freese.
Gerald V. Casale was interested in adding a multimedia element to the music, and with the assistance of Chuck Statler, a close friend, Devo put together the short film The Truth About De-Evolution. Casale would go on to direct almost all of Devo's famous music videos, and videos for others. Devo pressed their own first single, and tried to strike themselves out for commercial success. Devo played bars, and small clubs in the Ohio scene, causing a stir. In Los Angeles Devo met up with rock music legend, Neil Young, and Casale met up with a woman named Toni Basil. The two of them, along with David Bowie who had seen them in New York City helped Devo get their foot in the door for a recording contract. Devo would later play on several covers of their material for Toni Basil's debut album Word Of Mouth.
However, there was trouble on the horizon. Casale had left behind Bob Lewis, his close friend from the Kent State days. Lewis tried for ages to sue Devo and Casale when they had gotten their contract. The suit came to a head in 1981 in which Lewis won. The evidence in Lewis' favor was a tape of an interview in which Mark Mothersbaugh acknowledged Lewis' influence in Devo. Also, Devo's recording contract was the result of a lawsuit. These incidents further soured Gerald Casale's already dour disposition. His disdain for authority caused him and the band to be arrested in 1982 after a concert on their Oh, No! It's Devo! tour. Casale had also grown addicted to cocaine, causing him to lose focus on the purpose of Devo. In addition, Casale's penchant for being a control freak caused tension between members of the band. The decline in Devo's last few studio albums can be attributed these factors.
When Devo called it quits in 1990, Casale did not join Mark Mothersbaugh's Mutato Musika studio, instead pursuing a career in music video direction. Casale has directed videos for The Cars, Foo Fighters and Soundgarden as well as a few commercials. In 1996, when Devo re-united, Casale had calmed down. He was clean, and ready to take on the world that had devolved still further. Currently, he still directs videos and works with Devo. He also writes a regularly updated column on Devo's website http://www.clubdevo.com. Gerald Casale is truely one of rock music's underrated pioneers.
Sources: "We're All Devo" - Jade Dellinger & David Giffels