Press play on the video above before reading any further.
Did you do it?
See that guy in the back there? Behind the drum kit? That’s Alan Myers. He died on June 24 from brain cancer.
And he was probably the coolest drummer Devo ever had. The groove in this cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” is nothing short of perfect. It’s difficult to play, it’s metrically challenging for the listener, and it’s just robotic enough to fit the satirical edge Devo somehow managed to maintain for its decades-long career.
Myers joined Devo in 1976, replacing Jim Mothersbaugh. Throughout his 10-year run, he would play on Devo’s edgiest records, including Duty Now for the Future, Freedom of Choice and Oh No, It’s Devo! Some called him the “human metronome,” a nod to his dead-on time keeping. Deeper, though, was his ability to sound like a machine — the machines that later new wave and techno bands emulating Devo would employ — without sounding inhuman.
Few drummers have been able to pull that off, a style of which Myers was a master.
Though he left Devo in the mid-’80s, Myers went on to play with a number of other bands, including Babooshka, a group he formed with his girlfriend, and his own experimental band, Skyline Electric, which played around Los Angeles.
But for me, Myers’s best work came with his friends in Devo. Here below is one of his most popular grooves in one of Devo’s most popular songs, “Whip It.” Wait for the end, when the lustful Myers steps out from behind the band to pursue the nearly nude subject of Mark Mothersbaug’s whip. As the woman in the window quips, “Oh that Alan!” It’s the kind of sardonic humor the band was known for, and the drumming — and personality — of Alan Myers will forever represent that moment in time when we all were not men. We were Devo.