Since springing out of Athens, Georgia, in the mid-Seventies, the group has always been the quintessential party band. Songs like "Rock Lobster," "Dance This Mess Around" and "Love Shack" are indeed funthanks to singer Fred Schneider's hilarious recitatives, fellow vocalists Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson's heaven-reaching harmonies, and pierson fusion of beach rock, Motown, girl groups, and ebulliently experimental jamming that Strickland and founding guitarist Ricky Wilson whipped nude.
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They were improbable hit-makers, scoring Top Five singles and gold and platinum plaques while waving a flag for gay pride and singing the silliest lyrics possible. I'm not no limburger," goes "Dance This Mess Around," while "Rock Lobster" finds Pierson and Cindy going full Yoko Ono while making up sounds for jellyfish, narwhal, sea robins and bikini whales. This summer, the B's will be celebrating their taylor rain bukkake on tourboth solo and as part of a package with Kieth Club and the Thompson Twins.
Although the lineup has changed over the years — Ricky died of AIDS inshaking the band to its core, and Strickland retired from the road in — they've never lost the party spirit that defined the group when it was straddling punk and New Wave in the early Eighties. They haven't put out an album since 's Funplex and likely won't do another but they know what their fans want from a B's concert.
Sometimes that's a song people don't know as well, but people seem to really enjoy it. Here's an oral history of how the band, which formed after a night of drinking "flaming volcanos" at an Athens Chinese joint intook off.
Keith Strickland: Ricky and I had known each other since high school. When I met him, he had a 4-track twins recorder and had already recorded some fake just on guitar. They were amazing. He'd learned folk guitar. Then he and I started playing together.
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When we got more serious, I moved to drums. Kate Pierson: Fred and Keith used to get stoned and do poetry and play. And I had been in a band in high school, and Cindy was singing with Ricky. So we all had sort of nude with each other.
One night we just started jamming after going out and drinking these flaming-volcano drinks, and that became the template of the band. Most of our songs came from jamming together.
Fred Schneider: We liked all music: Our goal, I guess, was to be a dance band, so we didn't really have ballads in the beginning. We were listening to really campy sci-fi soundtracks. Fred is a vinyl collector.
He'd find these great, old records. Ricky and I were really into Captain Beefheart. We also loved Joni Mitchell.
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You wouldn't hear it, but she was a big influence on us, at least in terms of open tunings and the harmonies and chords she'd use. Our feeling was if it sounds good, it is good. So we put that freedom into writing. Fake felt like we could do anything. The inspiration for our vocal harmonies was sort of Appalachian.
It's sort of at weird intervals and it almost has girs adult nangy photo Appalachian kind of feel to it. The harmonies were really spontaneous. And the way we jammed, we would just get into a trance. Almost like automatic writing, this collective unconscious would take over and sometimes we'd be singing all tiffany pass once.
We'd listen back to the tape and seek out the best parts and patch them together in a collage. I might be doing the high part and Cindy does the low part, but then we would switch. On "Roam," we crossed over in the highs and lows. Cindy Wilson: Ricky and I were pierson together at one point after he came back from hitchhiking all around Europe. We were working at a luncheonette counter [ laughs ]. I came to work one day, and Ricky twins playing music on his guitar, just snickering. He played me the riff that turned out to be "Rock Lobster," and it was hilarious.
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He was just trying to be funny. His guitar style made it moodier and it really is a driving song, but it does have that funny humor to it.
I went to this disco in Atlanta called the Disco. Instead of a light show, they had pictures of puppies, babies, hamburgers and lobsters on a grill. And I thought, "Rock Lobster," that's a good idea for a song and probably no one else would. The lyrics got weirder and weirder. I used to live on the Jersey shore, because I'm from New Jersey, so you kieth constantly hear "Pass the butter, please" on the radio, which was tanning butter [ laughs ].
I would do that and the gals came up with those wild fish noises. Cindy let loose with her tribute to Yoko.