PREVIEW NEW WAVE
Carling Academy, Glasgow, Mon 21 Jul
Aside from almost daily radio outings for ‘Love Shack’ and ‘Rock Lobster’, new wave pioneers turned camp party pop stars The B-52s have been all but unheard of since their last album Good Stuff came out in 1992.
The Athens Georgia quartet have been far from estranged, however. ‘We’ve been working together constantly,’ says singer Cindy Wilson, with a Southern lilt and bashful chuckle. ‘We have a great relationship – 32 years or something. My husband says they’re like a second set of mother-in-laws.’
Much of the work Wilson refers to has gone into Funplex, The B-52s first new record in 16 years, which was released in March. Produced by Steve Osborne (New Order, KT Tunstall) the record shows the band augmenting their classic surf and rock’n’roll sound with elements of lusty electronic pop and dance. ‘This is not rehashed 80s stuff,’ says Wilson. ‘This is modern legitimate music. And it’s great. It’s so much fun to perform.’
Although all four surviving B-52s (guitarist Ricky Wilson – Cindy’s brother – died from AIDS in 1985) live in different parts of the US now, most of the writing and recording of Funplex took place back in Athens, still the band’s ‘central hub’. The college town has a rich musical history, and produced not only The B-52s, but REM and art rockers Pylon in a short burst during the late 70s and early 80s.
What were they putting in the water in Athens during that period? ‘I don’t know,’ Wilson replies. ‘It’s a liberal sort of artistic community. It’s cheap to live there, so you get time to be creative. It didn’t take much money to have a good time. It wasn’t a hick Georgia town. It was a wacky party town.’
1989 single ‘Love Shack’ remains The B-52s’ biggest hit to date by a sizeable margin. Can they still stomach performing it live? ‘Well, some nights it’s like: “Oh my Goooooood!”’ Wilson screams, laughing. ‘But believe it or not, I still like singing it. It’s more annoying when you go to somebody’s house and they put it on. It’s like: “Don’t do that.”’