The B-52’s are going from the “Love Shack” to the Funplex. The long-running Athens, Georgia foursome (which does indeed include Cindy Wilson once again) gave Rock Daily the lowdown on their first album of fresh material since 1992’s Good Stuff, which is coming out in February. “We thought, we’re gonna keep [touring], we’re gonna need some new songs for the show, we need to put a new album out there,” explains guitarist Keith Strickland. During a trip to Maui in 2003, he says, “This idea for the sound of the new album just popped into my head, and I felt that the sound and direction of the music would be right for us, so for the first time in years, I felt inspired enough to begin writing music for a new B-52’s album.”
Strickland’s inspiration was fueled by the heavy dose of New Order’s Get Ready he was listening to, an influence that led him to hire that album’s producer, Steve Osborne. Strickland also found muses from Hamburg-era Beatles tracks and technology itself. “I began writing music at the same time as I was getting a learning curve on how to use ProTools.” Adds singer Kate Pierson, “I remember when they used to splice tape together with a razor blade. That seems so antique now, but we still kept it organic.”
Fans of the band’s music might be surprised by the leap in technology. While the quirkiness and humor still shine through, the arrangements on the eleven-song album are more focused and atmospheric. If songs like “Rock Lobster” had you dancing, then “Pump,” the album’s potential first single, will have you raving. “We’re more conscious of song structure, instead of fitting everything into a collage,” Pierson says, “This album, the songs build and build and by the end, it’s totally different, this course is hammering along and you’re dancing.”
The band still stays true their roots, interspersing futuristic references with sexual and political lyrics in tracks like “Love In The Year 3000” and “Deviant Ingredient.” Pierson’s favorite, “Juliet Of The Spirits,” about the title character of the Frederico Fellini film of the same name, employs an upbeat vibe while conjuring up the tone of the director’s in-house composer, Nino Rota. The band has already played six of the new songs in concert, and they’re eager to try them out again during their Halloween show at New York’s Roseland Ballroom (they’ll be outfitted in their regular show garb) and at Los Angeles’ Roxy on November 16th. So far, they’ve been pleased by the positive audience reaction to the tracks. As Strickland explains, “It’s loud, sexy rock & roll with the beat pumped up to hot pink.” Funplex will be released on Astralwerks February 26th, 2008.