As one third of the creative core of The B-52s, Cindy Wilson has created the most fun music on the planet for nearly four decades. As the Athens, Georgia-born group known as “the best party band in the world” rolls on, Miss Wilson is also releasing her first ever solo album, “Change.”
But don’t expect a disc full of rusted tin roofs and “lobsters that rock,” as Miss Wilson’s solo sound is distinctively different from her work in The B52s. Rather, it’s a sultry and shimmering mix of electronica, crooning and folky goodness, with a dose of rock new wave tossed in. You can’ take the new wave out of the girl.
Miss Wilson spoke about her first ever solo gig, her new direction, shattering expectations and the future of The B-52s.
Question: What made you decide to record a solo record now?
Answer: It’s insane, I know. It started just for fun. A friend of mine named Ryan Monahan and I would do shows together in Atlanta and Athens [Georgia]. Just little gigs around town. Nothing really serious.
But we had such a good time, and I was so impressed by his musicianship that it kind of inspired me. I said, “Let’s go into the studio and kick it around.” Just an excuse to go in the studio and play music and be creative. I was working with these really creative people and just going along with the process.
Q: Do you still live in Athens?
A: Yeah. Athens is an amazing city for creativity. I bought a house there. A little tiny place.
Q: What keeps you there?
A: I still have family there, thank goodness. Athens is one of those cities that is very livable. And it’s inexpensive. You can get by. And that makes for creativity. So people tend to stay there. I still have some friends there that never left.
Q: Was it important to be as different as possible from The B-52s?
A: Yeah. Totally. It’s time to do something different. Mind you, I’m grateful to have my career with The B-52s, but it’s nice to have fun and play with my voice.
There was always a lot of freedom in The B-52s, but not like this. I get to really have fun and play with my voice. I didn’t write the songs. This is purely trying to turn everything around and stand it on its head. I’m not singing rock ‘n’ roll.
I think it’s appropriate for my age in a weird kind of way. And yet it’s modern too.
Q: From what I heard, the music is very different. I would say it sounds like Kraftwerk if Joni Mitchell were the lead singer.
A: I love that! [laughs] Print that!
Q: How long did it take for the band to fully gel?
A: First we would [work] twice a month. Then a week at a time, working on the sound.
In Athens you can do it really cheaply. I couldn’t have gone into a studio in the old days; I could have never afforded to [make an album].
We got a serious band now. And it’s real. I spent two years developing the band and the sound. Not like we rushed it. It’s well thought out.
Q: Do you worry that the old B-52s fans might not embrace your new sound?
A: I don’t think that way. And they’re not a fan of me if they try to possess me and put me in a little box. I think the fans are gonna show up and be in the front row. It’s not like I haven’t put 40 years in. [laughs]
Q: What do your B-52s bandmates Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider think of you doing a solo album?
A: They’re very supportive. Plus everyone has done their solo things.
I thought, “I’ll kick it around, see what I can do.” It’s time. I’m a bit overdue. But I raised a family. All that kind of stuff.
Q: When is the album coming out?
A: Right now there is an EP. We’re trying to get our ducks in a row.
Q: Any nerves about playing solo?
A: Not about the shows because the band is quite well rehearsed. They’ve been in other bands. They’re all seasoned.
I actually am privileged to be part of this whole experiment. And it’s beautiful. The show is multimedia and very artsy. It kind of flows like a river. One continuous piece. Like an art piece. Nothing like B-52s.
Q: What is the future of The B-52s?
A: We’re booked into 2017, our 40th anniversary. We’re going to tour with Simple Minds. We’re going to Australia and New Zealand.
Still having fun.
Q: Is it exciting to work with new people?
A: I’ve learned so much. That’s what it’s all about: learning and taking this journey. It’s wonderful.