The B-52's Are Hitting the Road With Boy George

The B-52's Are Hitting the Road With Boy George

The inimitable new-wave band celebrates their 40th anniversary.

The inimitable new-wave band celebrates their 40th anniversary.

Text: Ilana Kaplan

This interview appears n the pages of V114 on newsstands now! Order your copy at shop.vmagazine.com.

“There’s nobody that sounds like us, and there’s nobody that looks like us,” Kate Pierson says of her band the B-52s. She’s right. For over 40 years, the new-wave rockers have occupied a singular place in rock and roll, lacing their rollicking anthems with equal parts catchiness and camp. And unlike many legacy bands, the Athens, Georgia-bred group has never broken up.

To celebrate their four decades together, the band, made up of Pierson, Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson, and Keith Strickland, is hitting the road with Boy George. But Pierson, now 70, isn’t necessarily keeping track of time. “The 40th anniversary will last for several years if you want to make it last,” she quips. After all, the B-52s are young at heart, touring with the stamina of a band half their age. “When we [toured] with the Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde said she wanted to go on first. She said, ‘When you’re going on, I’ll be in bed.’” It’s no wonder where the band gets its energy: few songs can please a crowd quite like their cult classic “Love Shack,” which, despite its mass popularity, remains a favorite even to the band. “It’s such an audience pleaser, we have to do it,” Pierson says. “Each time you’re dancing it feels like a new song.”

The band seems to prioritize touring over releasing new music, having waited 16 years before releasing their 2008 album Funplex. “The first thing every interviewer asked was, ‘Why 16 years?’” she says. “We had to think about it ourselves.” And though it’s been 10 years since Funplex, don’t expect a new record any time soon. Citing geographical restrictions, Pierson, who now lives in Woodstock, New York, says the band is more interested in collaborating with artists like Dave Grohl or Tune-Yards than producing another album. “We’d be more likely to do one song or two songs, but not another album,” Pierson admits.

Following the band’s tour with Boy George, Pierson plans to release her second solo album, the follow-up to her 2015, Sia-produced debut, Guitars and Microphones. The record is full of dance-pop numbers and ballads, but also politically driven songs, like one she made with Mexican artist Aleks Syntek. “It’s called ‘The Wall’ and I want it to go to a charity that supports immigrants,” she says. But still, the B-52s, and the legacy they’ve created, will always remain at the core of who she is—even if they never put out a record again. “There’s something about staying together, the longevity of it, that’s interesting,” she says. “We still hang out together, and we still really like and love each other.”

IMAGE VIA PICTORIAL PRESS LTD. / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO, ILLUSTRATIONS BY APIRAT INFAHSAENG

Credits: IMAGE VIA PICTORIAL PRESS LTD. / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO, ILLUSTRATIONS BY APIRAT INFAHSAENG

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