PASSINGS: Alan Myers

 PASSINGS: Alan Myers
Devo in 1978, from left, Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob Mothersbaugh, kneeling, Jerry Casale, Bob Casale and Alan Myers. (Janet Macoska, Associated Press)

Alan Myers

'Human metronome'


for punk band Devo

Alan Myers, 58, whose drumming for the punk band Devo came to define its off-kilter sound, died Monday in Los Angeles, said Devo spokesman Michael Pilmer. Myers had brain cancer.

He was the band's drummer from 1976 to 1986 during the heyday of Devo, which peaked commercially in 1980 with the smash hit "Whip It." The band's name referred to de-volution, the idea that instead of evolving, humankind was actually in decline.

Devo was formed in Akron, Ohio, in the early 1970s by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale. With the addition of Myers, the group "started to explore disconcertingly disjointed time signatures," Casale recalled in "Rip It Up and Start Again," a 2006 book about post-punk music.

On Wednesday Casale said that without Myers, Devo never would have reached the heights it did. He called the drummer "the human metronome."

"People watching him thought we were using a drum machine. Nobody had ever drummed like that," said Casale, who directed the band's ground-breaking videos.

The group's first album — "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!" — was produced by Brian Eno. The 1978 recording was one of the first pop albums to use synthesizers as an important textural element, according to the All Music Internet database.

Devo's sound would influence much of the techno and industrial music that followed. But the band's increasing reliance on electronic drums frustrated Myers, and he left the group.

Details of the band's life pre-Devo were intentionally obscured in favor of their automaton-like image, according to a Rolling Stone biography.

After Devo, Myers worked as an electrical contractor in Los Angeles and played improvisational music with his wife, Christine, in the group Skyline Electric. He also performed with his daughter, Laena Geronimo, in the experimental ensemble Swahili Blonde, according to Rolling Stone.

Times staff and wire reports