The sound of the B-52s -- quirky, cutting, dance-a-riffic -- was not just perky and fun, but always very much of its time. It's hard to hear "Rock Lobster" or "Dance This Mess Around" without being transported to the days of bizarre new-wave hair and '80s fashions; by the same token, "Roam" and "Love Shack" are equally transporting to their own era.
So it wasn't that surprising to learn that the band -- Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson and Keith Strickland -- had gone 16 years without recording. When news emerged, then, that the band was finally going to release a new record, the curiosity factor was high.
But just as the B-52s music seemed of a period, so did it always come off as quintessentially personal. So it made perfect sense that the new record turned out to be titled "Funplex," and that the band's coordinated black-and-white-striped outfits, complete with skin-tight shirts and skirts, demonstrated a sense of showmanship that hadn't skipped a beat since their debut release. Seeing the band's irreverence in fine form, the question then became: What took so long?
Bankrate spoke to Strickland, the band's guitarist and songwriter, about how they returned after their long absence.
Bankrate: What prompted this new recording?
Keith Strickland: We've been performing regularly since '96, '97; Cindy returned to the band around that time. I think having performed so much, we felt more than ever that we needed new material. So that was the primary incentive -- we needed new songs for our show.
Bankrate: This is your first new album in 16 years. When you got together to write, was it difficult to shake off the cobwebs?
Strickland: Not really. I write the music here at home in Key West, (Fla.), but before I could commit to it, I needed a strong idea; a sense of direction. I had been listening to a lot of electronic dance music and rock 'n' roll, and I just thought I should try putting these two sounds together with our sound.
That was the pivotal moment for me. It's a simple idea, really, but that was the jumping-off point for all these ideas. So I was having a lot of fun with the music. Then after I wrote it, I had everything on a hard drive, and I flew up to Atlanta and met Fred, Kate and Cindy, and they wrote their lyrics and melodies, and it just clicked. It's kind of like instant recall for us, because we've always written the same way.