"I went from being the happiest guy in the world to a guy making a life-or-death decision. At that point, I decided that I was going to do more music than I have ever done in my life."
Nile Rodgers, frontman for pioneering disco group Chic and in-demand pop-funk producer, is reminiscing about the past five years of his life. In 2010, the musician received a box of tapes containing unfinished Chic material. The recordings, which contained the ghostly voices of now-deceased members Bernard Edwards, Luther Vandross and others, gave Rodgers the impetus to complete the material for It's About Time, the group's first album since 1992's Chic-ism. A few months later, Rodgers was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began to consider both his legacy and the end of his life.
Now cancer-free, Rodgers is prepping the March 20th release of the album's first single "I'll Be There" with a mini-documentary, which we're premiering here.
Rodgers says the theme of the album, as the title implies, is time. "I've always had a lot to say. . .But it's always worked best when I say it through music," he says. "So when I thought about where I was at this point in my life, all I kept thinking about was time." The guitarist admits that there "was no reason spiritually or artistically" to record another Chic album, but when he heard the tapes, "it was like I had gone back in time."
March 20th is hardly an arbitrary date, as Rodgers timed the song's release to a total solar eclipse set to appear on the vernal equinox. "It's this great double entendre to put out a record on the day where day and night are of equal length but because of a solar eclipse, it changes day into night for a bit," says Rodgers.
"It's About Time," originally conceived during the band's peak period in the late 1970s, channels the vibe of Chic's disco hits like "I Want Your Love" and "Everybody Dance." Anchored by Rodgers' "Hitmaker" guitar, the same instrument he has used for more than 35 years, the buoyant track nods to the dance floor, showing the pedigree that has influenced Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, Pharrell Williams and countless others.
As mainstream pop music catches up with his influence, Rodgers himself feels that fans are ready for a Chic renaissance. "It felt like I had a chance for my band to be reborn and should just live one more time," says Rodgers. "It's like you broke open a time capsule and you have a record that never came out."