Kate's The Bomb
by Jill Greenberg
Kate Pierson of The B-52s on RuPaul and customized trailers
The B-52s have been writing, recording, and performing their new wave pop rock music since the mid 1970s. As one might deduce from their campy, upbeat, throwback style and penchant for having a good time, they have made a few friends and created a few stories along the way. Artvoice spoke with vocalist and keyboardist Kate Pierson about her personal endeavors as well as the B-52s adventures, muses, and plans for the future.
AV: What are some of the influences that formed your style and the B-52s style?
Pierson: We had very eclectic influences. The University of Georgia in Athens influenced us a lot because there is a music library. Even people who weren’t students had access. We took out all kinds of music. I remember we would take out this Aka Pygmy music and we would go on picnics and play that music. We were exposed to African music, Perez Prado, soul music, and we danced a lot. We were a group of bohemian types who would do artistic things. We would go to see a Fellini movie and our friend would have a Fellini party beforehand. We were always dressing up.
AV: How did the actor, drag queen, model, author, and singer-songwriter RuPaul end up in the video for “Love Shack”?
Pierson: We knew him from Atlanta when he was in a band called Wee Wee Pole. So we knew him before he was the icon he is today; he was always an icon though. We asked him to be in the video, which took place near where Keith and I were living at the time, in Plattekill near Woodstock, New York. Our friends, ceramic artists Phillip Maberry and Scott Walker, told us that we had to do the video at their place because they lived in the Love Shack. The director went upstate to look at it because he wasn’t convinced that we could film it anywhere outside of New York City. When he saw it, he was bowled over. We got a busload of all our friends and went up there and it turned into a party. Actually, RuPaul started the whole dance line. All of a sudden he organized everyone, clapped his hands, and said, ‘Y’all line up and everybody dance!’ It turned into a party within a video, a real party. The video really captured that because we really were having fun.
AV: Have you seen RuPaul’s drag superstar reality show Drag Race?
Pierson: Oh yes, I’m dying to be on it. He asked me to, but our schedules didn’t coincide. I’m looking forward to being on it in the future. We watch it on our tour bus all the time. They will show back-to-back episodes sometimes and we’ll watch a marathon of Drag Race.
AV: What was the motivation behind opening Kate’s Lazy Meadow, your rustic lodging in Mount Tremper, New York?
Pierson: I bought the motel thinking that it would be easy and fun but it turned into a two-year renovation project that had to be done, and now it’s been really successful. Also it was a great place to shop, to get my shop on. I had a lot of tchotkes and I bought everything personally. It was a big project, much bigger than I thought, and my business partner Monica Coleman really made it happen as far as a business. Now we’re starting a new part called Lazy Desert. There were some floods in New York so we’re moving our Airstream trailers out near Joshua Tree, California, to a property that overlooks Goat Mountain. That will be open soon. The vintage Airstream trailers are all highly decorated and themed by Phillip Maberry and Scott Walker. There’s Kate’s Hairstream trailer, Tinkerbell, Tiki, and more.
AV: How does the band keep its signature style fresh?
Pierson: We had a live DVD that just came out, With the Wild Crowd! That was very exciting because we’ve never done a live album, and now we have the DVD. It was a good experience to feel like we were at the top of our game as far as playing live. We have an incredible band. We have Tracy Wormworth on bass who has been with us for years, since Cosmic Thing. We have Paul Gordon on keyboards, and Sterling Campbell, who is an amazing drummer. We felt like we were really clicking at the very top of our powers. That’s how we keep it fresh. We have also changed up the set for the summer tour. Each time we play live it’s always a new experience.
AV: After the success of 2008’s Funplex, do you have any plans to get back into the studio?
Pierson: No, we don’t have any plans, but then again we never were big planners. When we came together to do Funplex it seemed like the stars were aligned. We live in different places so we had to really commit. It was a rare moment when we could all say that we could give a hundred percent. I’m not seeing that in the future but you never know, because we didn’t know then that we were going to do Funplex. If we do something it will be more of a one-off project. We are looking forward to maybe working with Jack White; we visited his studio in Nashville last year. Something like that would be fun.
The B-52s will show why they are often referred to as the “World’s Greatest Party Band” this Sunday, May 27, at the Seneca Allegany Events Center (777 Seneca Allegany Boulevard, Salamanca). Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at the Seneca Casino Box Offices, ticketmaster.com, and 800-745-3000.blog comments powered by Disqus
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