AN INTERVIEW WITH THE DIVINE KATE PIERSON
OF THE B-52S!
BY WILL HARRIS:
The artist: The B-52s’ debut single, “Rock Lobster,” not only blew the minds of American radio listeners when it was released in 1978, but also prompted John Lennon to return to the studio for the first time in half a decade. Although The B-52s went quiet for a few years after the 1985 death of guitarist-songwriter Ricky Wilson, the band returned in 1989 with Cosmic Thing, which became the most successful album of its career. Although the B-52s’ last studio album was 2008’s Funplex, the group continues to tour regularly and has just released its first live effort, With The Wild Crowd, which features selections from almost every album in the band’s discography.
Kate Pierson: Fred [Schneider] started with the lyrics. He had gone to this disco… I think it was called the 2001 Disco, and he saw these crustaceans that were projected onto the wall, saw a rock lobster, and… I guess he wrote some lines about it. [Laughs.] And then we were sitting around at Bradley Peterson’s house—we always called it Bradley Peterson’s house, even though Ricky and Cindy [Wilson] had moved into his house after he moved—and that was the first place we jammed on “Rock Lobster.” Keith [Strickland] came over, and Ricky was just sitting there, grinning with his guitar in his lap. Keith said, “What are you smiling about?” And Ricky said, “I’ve just written the stupidest guitar line you’ve ever heard.” And it was… [Imitates the guitar line.] And Keith just flipped out. He said, “That’s the best. That is just the greatest guitar line.” So when we jammed with that, Ricky and Keith developed the rest of that—well, mostly Ricky, really—and Fred laid down the classic lines he had written, then Cindy and I added our harmonies and our fish sounds at the end. And that’s how it came about. I can still vividly remember us sitting in that room, coming up with the sound and just kind of working out the parts as we were jamming on it.