Imagine you’d started a pro-dog online advocacy group with more than 70,000 members on Facebook, and out of the clear blue, a new-wave rocker you’d always admired telephoned you one day to offer moral support and a helping paw. That’s precisely what happened to Scott Crider, founder of Dogs Against Romney, when Gerald Casale (often known as Jerry Casale) of DEVO reached out to him last month.
“Even before hearing about Dogs Against Romney and our efforts to keep Seamus and the ’Crategate’ scandal in the public eye, Jerry had already begun putting together a project anchored by a website he wanted to call Remember Seamus,” Crider recalls. “So instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, he contacted me and said, ‘Let’s partner up.’ And while we were talking, I suggested that maybe he should consider writing a song. When he started talking about it with his bandmates, they said, ’Let’s do it.'”
“So,” Crider adds, still shaking his head with amazement, “it went from being an independent Jerry Casale project to being a full-fledged DEVO song.” Now, the Irish Setter whose dog crate was inexplicably, perilously strapped atop Romney’s car one dark day back in 1983, when the family took that now-infamous 12-hour drive to Canada, is guaranteed immortality thanks to the brand-new DEVO song “Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro! (Seamus Unleashed).”
“As an animal lover, I felt I had to get involved,” Casale says. “The organization built by Dogs Against Romney is perfect for me to partner with –- its members are very passionate about this issue, and I’m proud to be part of helping to get the message out. I’m also thankful to my bandmates Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh, Josh Freese, and my brother, Bob Casale, for jumping in to create the new song.”
DEVO has also contributed the song to the mobile game that Crider created with Dallas-based game developer Censault. “I tell people that if I ever doubted I was doing the right thing with Dogs Against Romney, those doubts no longer materialize,” Crider says. “So many wonderful things have karmically come together to keep this alive.” The single and game are set to launch on August 26, the day before the Republican National Convention.
DEVO’s critique of Romney’s ill-advised decision to roof-rack the family dog is not a partisan matter. It’s about more than just stumping for the presidential incumbent, Casale is careful to point out: “This is about the man, not some WWF-style smackdown between Democrats and Republicans. Anyone that ever cared for children or pets, or had any responsibility for dependents finds it appalling that a 36-year-old man would do that. We’ve created dogs to be dependent on us, and that gives us a big responsibility,” he adds.
Singing out on behalf of dogs comes naturally to Casale (and no wonder: He’s a Leo). Along with his bandmates, he appears in Are We Not Men? – the forthcoming documentary about DEVO that takes its title from a rather famous DEVO song (the doc also features cameos by David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Chrissie Hynde; follow it on Twitter @DEVOfilm). That motto might as well be amended to Are We Not Dogsters? A dog lover since childhood, he has fond memories of his first canine companion, an English Springer Spaniel named Brownie. Later, there was the Weimaraner named Teo. “He was incredibly emotional, and a little neurotic – an amazing, incredible presence,” Casale says.
His great dog love was a yellow Lab named Luna, the inspiration for a song he wrote titled “Luna at the Park.” He composed the tune when Mark Mothersbaugh, his partner in DEVO (and fellow dog lover, with four adorable Pugs), “was making some retro-style surf music for a videogame, and needed a bunch of songs,” Casale says. It’s a sonic celebration of every Lab’s love of chasing frisbees and balls, activities especially dear to Luna’s heart. “She’d fetch until I was too tired to keep going, and every time she’d come back happier than the time before.”
Luna passed away three years ago. Casale has been dogless ever since, although he adores his doglike cat, Mau Mau, who walks on a leash and plays fetch. What has he missed most about life with dogs? “Oh my God, so much: the companionship, the energy … Luna acted like a puppy right up until the end.” Casale looks forward to welcoming a new family member in a few months’ time: A Labradoodle pup, as yet unnamed, who’s scheduled to come home with him after he returns from this fall’s highly anticipated Blondie tour, for which DEVO is the opening act.
In anticipation of the pup’s arrival, Casale plans to install a puppy door at his new home, “so she can come in and out at her leisure.” At his previous home, “Luna had complete, total access. She was definitely a VIP!” So, will the new pup enjoy the same privileges as her pampered predecessor? “I know what it leads to when you don’t set ground rules, so … she’ll have her own dog bed in the bedroom,” he concludes with a laugh.
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