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Long Before They Cracked That Whip

Pop Music | BONUS TRACK

April 22, 2001|RICHARD CROMELIN | Richard Cromelin is a Times staff writer

What: "P'Twaaang!!!" by the Wipeouters (Casual Tonalities Records). The Sound: Surf has never been up quite like this. The Wipeouters spike the twang and the tom-toms with electronica, exotica and plain old weirdness, sustaining their drive and energy even as they break for a ukulele strum, a sitar solo or pictorial passages that sound like Looney Tunes meet R. Crumb cartoon scores. The Legend: The Wipeouters were a short-lived '60s surf band in Akron, Ohio, whose members would later form punk-new wave icon Devo. The album is a current reunion of the group-which never recorded or performed in public-playing its old songs.

Note that surfing in Ohio was different from the California model. "It was being in seventh grade and a couple of evil 10th-graders throwing you in the back of their car and driving you to Lake Erie," says Mark Mothersbaugh, singer for the Wipeouters and Devo.

"On the way they would get drunk, and they'd take us out and they would skip us across Lake Erie. And after that first skip off the water, your fear turned into exhilaration. They'd get seven or eight skips out of us, and you found out that you could actually guide your direction so you could avoid buoys and piers and stuff. We wrote this music in response to our experience of surfing." Just the Facts: Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, brother Bob Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale (plus drummer Josh Mancell) all work together at Mark's Mutato Muzika studios in West Hollywood scoring movies, video games and TV shows, including Nickelodeon's animated "Rocket Power," whose surf theme triggered (and is included on) this "after hours" project.

"P'Twaaang!!!" marks the first album project by the core of Devo (whose Jerry Casale-brother of Bob-guests on the record but isn't a full-time Wipeouter) since 1990's "SmoothNoodleMaps." But though Devo is essentially inactive these days, Mark Mothersbaugh says the group periodically "chips away" at a folder of about eight songs. When: In stores Tuesday. *

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