It’s now pretty well established that disco didn’t suck, and neither do the Bee Gees. The brothers Gibb – Barry, Robin and the one some people call Maurice – were first unfairly written off in the ’60s, when they were tagged as mere Beatles wanna-be’s (which they eventually became in the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club movie, which did kinda suck). In 1977 the massive success of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack brought a tidal wave of fame to the Bee Gees. Ever since, they’ve put out a lot of memorable and, yes, soulful music. The Miami-based power trio’s latest outing, Still Waters, is no exception. This month the Bee Gees will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Here’s hoping they wear those white suits proudly.
At the height of your ’70s overexposure, did you ever get sick of yourselves?
Robin: It wasn’t sick of ourselves so much as afraid we were out of control of what was happening to an image that we weren’t necessarily endorsing.
How can you mend a broken heart?
Barry: By coming back together, which is what happened to us about the time that song was written.
How can a loser ever win?
Barry: Hmm . . . I don’t know. How does a loser ever win?
Robin: In that song we posed the questions. Doesn’t mean we had the answers.
How deep is your love?
Barry: Extremely deep.
Maurice: Oh, it’s fucking deep – it’s an endless pit.
Robin: A huge, festering pit.
Wasn’t Festering Pit an alternative title for the new album?
Robin: No, that was Shit for Brains.
Maurice: Originally the album was going to be called Fuck You. Shit for Brains was a compromise between Fuck You and Still Waters.
You guys were so associated with disco. Can any of you dance worth a damn?
Barry: We never could dance, but we’re bopping like crazy inside.
Maurice: As a matter of fact, I’m dancing inside right now.
Robin, would you like to start a joke?
Robin: Not particularly.
Heard any good Bee Gees jokes?
Barry: No, we’ve never heard a good Bee Gees joke.
Maurice: We’ve heard a lot of bad Bee Gees jokes.
Are you the brother act with the least sibling rivalry?
Barry: They’ve had so much trauma in the Beach Boys – who’d want to go through that?
Maurice: We’ve heard of Ray and Dave [Davies] from the Kinks coming to fisticuffs, but we’ve never done that.
Is grease still the word?
Barry: Oh, yeah. I think most things are not possible without grease.
Maurice: Especially in your personal life [laughs.]
Barry: Which takes you right back to “How deep is your love?”
How do you feel about entering the Hall of Fame?
Maurice: Brilliant. It’s a hell of an honor, the cream of the cake.
Barry: It’s a club someone’s letting you in. So where’s the bar?
In Cleveland. When’s the last time you watched Sgt. Pepper?
Maurice: About three months ago.
Barry: You don’t watch it.
Robin: You tolerate it.
Barry: What was incredible is that people like Aerosmith and Earth, Wind and Fire got into that. You would have never thought any of them would have gotten into that . . . thing.
It’s like Vietnam in that sense.
Barry: Yeah, very similar. A lot of people fell. Lives were lost.
Maurice: Drugs were flowing.
Barry: We had people blowing grass down the barrel of a gun – but that’s another story.
Maurice: That was the makeup man.
Robin: And in the end, there were a lot of casualties.
Did you hear from the Beatles about it?
Maurice: I spoke to George [Harrison] about a year after it was out. He told me he loved it – he thought it was so gay and that we sang the songs marvelously.
Barry: But no one ever wrote us and said, “Great work, lads.”
Maurice: George Burns was never the same after that.
Do you think that real men sing falsetto?
Maurice: Frankie Valli had trouble with that for years.
Barry: Real men do sing falsetto!
What do you hope to accomplish with the new album?
Maurice: World domination!
Barry: In fact, we’re despots.
Robin: The three of us can form a very cheap Cabinet.
I’m the proud owner of a Bee Gees lunch box. Any old merchandise you regret?
Robin: I thought the Bee Gees condom was going too far.
Maurice: I thought so, too, but the testicle tickler was a big seller.
Robin, any personal repercussions of discussing your experiences with lesbianism with Howard Stern?
Robin: It was a lot of fun, and I got into the spirit of things.
So you got in no trouble?
Robin: Terrible trouble. The case comes up next week.
What exactly is more than a woman?
Robin: Three tits. Two vaginas.
Can there be too much heaven?
Barry: No, but that was a good idea: “Nobody gets too much heaven no more.” Very bad grammar, but the message is great.
Tonight you’re taping an appearance on Ellen. Will you be coming out?
Barry: We already came out, looked about a bit and went right back in.