The B-52s, Bringing Back the Party From the late '70s to the early '90s, the zany dance-rock outfit did the "Rock Lobster," had its own "Private Idaho" and got together at the "Love Shack." Now, the band has produced Funplex — its first new album in 16 years.
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The B-52s, Bringing Back the Party

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The B-52s, Bringing Back the Party

The B-52s, Bringing Back the Party

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Beginning in 1979, a new wave band known as The B-52s turned out a string of party hits including "Love Shack," "Private Idaho," "Planet Claire" and, of course, "Rock Lobster."

(Soundbite of song "Rock Lobster")

Mr. FRED SCHNEIDER (Member, The B-52s): (Singing) It was a rock lobster. Rock lobster.

NORRIS: Now, The B-52s are back on the charts with their first studio album in 16 years. It's called "Funplex." And judging by the music, they can still pack a dance floor.

(Soundbite of song "Funplex")

THE B-52S: (Singing) Oh, you put my heart at the funplex. Yes, you do. Yes, you do. Yeah. Oh, you put my heart at the funplex. Yes, you do. Yes, you do.

NORRIS: Two of The B-52s stopped by our studio to chat about the new CD. Kate Pierson - she's the one who used a sport of sky-high, red beehive, and guitarist Keith Strickland. I asked Strickland what the band had in mind when they wrote "Funplex."

Mr. KEITH STRICKLAND (Guitarist, The B-52s): We've been performing for the last 10 years and fairly regularly. And we, you know, started thinking again that, well, we should do a new album. And I just thought, well, what would I do now? I mean, what would be The B-52s do now?

So, I had been listening to a lot of electronic dance music and still listening to a lot of rock n' roll, and I thought it would be perhaps an interesting project to try putting those two sounds together with our own sound. And for me, that was the pivotal point.

(Soundbite of song "Juliet of the Spirits")

Ms. KATE PIERSON (Vocals, The B-52s): (Singing) Juliet, I could feel you close. I'm touching, ready to explode. Secrets you kept should probably be told like love songs ready to expose.

NORRIS: I'm wondering if part of the impetus was just to provide some new material, you didn't have to perform…

Mr. STRICKLAND: Well, yes. Yeah, I…

NORRIS: …"Rock Lobster" or "Love Shack" one more time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STRICKLAND: Well, exactly. I kind of look that bit out. That's what we were thinking. Well, if we're going to keep doing this, you know, we need new material, you know? And our fans have been very patient and very generous and - but they were beginning to sort of bang on the door, we want new songs, you know.

Ms. PIERSON: Well, we always felt like, you know, we're still vital, we're out there, we're playing. It's still new and, you know, there comes a point where you're in danger of just becoming a retroact and - unless you have a new record.

(Soundbite of song "Hot Corner")

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) Shake it to the last round.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) Hot corner. Last call.

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) Shimmy in a Lurex gown. Don't you know that I want you, baby.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) Hey, y'all. Last call. Last chance to dance.

NORRIS: Now, do I have this right? All of you are now in your 50s, is that correct?


Ms. PIERSON: Yeah.

NORRIS: Now, when you've released a new CD, you've been on tour for some time and you always performed, but you really have to ramp things up to support the new CD and I'm wondering if it's a bit of a challenge to go out on the road and do this. I mean, you know, everyone's going to expect you to drop to your knees to do the "Rock Lobster." It's a little bit harder to do that now.

Mr. STRICKLAND: You know, I don't really think about that so much. I mean, the age thing doesn't really - doesn't come into play too much for me. I don't know.

Ms. PIERSON: Yeah, I don't think everyone, you know, everyone still feels like inside they're 20.

Mr. STRICKLAND: You know, it's kind of like, for us, when we write and when we perform, it's like instant recall. You know, you're up there performing and all these people are watching you. I get into the music and the music, you know, just is very energizing.

NORRIS: They're watching you, but you're also watching them. What is that like now to watch - especially, your original fans who flock to your shows.

Ms. PIERSON: Well, when you mentioned, you know, having to perform "Love Shack" and "Rock Lobster," I still enjoy performing them because there is this energy that the audience gives you. It's just really entertaining, and you could feel an energy, you know, sort of, transference happening when you're on stage. And I see the audience just going wild. We have some kind of - I don't know, a potion in our - something in our music that just makes people (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of song "Keep This Party Going")

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) But keep this party…

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) A party…

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) …going on.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) Drag it. Slam it. Let it out.

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) Let's keep the party going on.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) Elevator rising up.

NORRIS: So is the "Funplex" just the latest CD from The B-52s? Will we be hearing lots from you?

Mr. STRICKLAND: I would like to, and certainly not with 16 years between. We'll be 70 years old.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. PIERSON: I'm still trying to figure that out.

NORRIS: You said you're young at heart, so…

Ms. PIERSON: I guess time flies fast in rock n' roll or something, but our motto from the beginning was let's have fun. Let's keep doing it as long we're having fun with it, you know. And I still think we're having fun with it.

NORRIS: Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland of The B-52s, their latest album is called "Funplex."

Thanks so much.

Mr. STRICKLAND: Thank you.

Ms. PIERSON: Thank you.

(Soundbite of song "Keep This Party Going")

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) What about it?

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) Berlin.

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) Party.

NORRIS: And you can hear songs from "Funplex" on our Web site,

(Soundbite of song "Keep This Party Going")

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) What about it?

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) Prague.

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) What about it?

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) New York City.

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) Party.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) Tokyo.

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) Let's party.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) L.A.

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) Let's party.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) Key West.

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) Let's party.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (Singing) Yeah.

Ms. PIERSON: (Singing) Let's party.

SIEGEL: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERTED from NPR News.

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