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Continued: Fun house

  • Article by: JON BREAM , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 8, 2008 - 12:05 AM

Everyone knows that when it comes to real estate, it's all about location, location, location.

When it comes to B-52s albums, it's all about fun, fun, fun. That's why it's not such a dramatic move from "Love Shack," wherever that's located, to "Funplex," the unstoppable party band's first album in 16 years.

The sound is unmistakable B-52s: the rhythmic guitars, simple keyboard riffs, girl-group harmonies, bouncy beats. The only real difference is a newfound electronica sheen to the dance-happy sound.

With the well-received new album and a trip to Target Center on Monday as part of Cyndi Lauper's gay-friendly True Colors Tour, B-52s singer Kate Pierson, 60, checked in from Woodstock, N.Y., where she opened a motel in 2004 at which you can stay in quirkily themed Airstream trailers.

Q How does it feel to be on tour again with a new album?

A Wonderful. It's just so amazing to perform the new songs. We started incorporating them into the set before the record was released. And they get such a good reaction. People posted the shows on YouTube, and people are singing along with the new songs. So it's really gratifying.

Q Why did it take 16 years for you to do a new album?

A I was not even aware of that until we started doing interviews. We did tour a lot. For [1989's] "Cosmic Thing," we toured for like a year and three-quarters. And then Cindy [Wilson] left the band. Then we did 'Good Stuff' [in '92] and we toured. I think we were getting to a burnout; we needed to take some time off. Then all of us started doing solo projects. Cindy had two kids. We did manage to keep playing and doing summer tours with the Go-Gos, the Pretenders and Blondie.

I guess we didn't have incredible incentive to do a new record, although we did try several times to jam [to write songs] and the jamming process we do just wasn't happening.

It took three years to do all the gigs, do the writing sessions and complete the recording [for 'Funplex'], and there were delays waiting for [producer] Steve Osborne [of New Order fame] to be available. So time flies when you're having fun.

Q With this album, you made a change in your moniker after 32 years: You dropped the apostrophe from B-52s. Why?

A It was not grammatically correct. It's not like a possessive. It just seemed superfluous. Actually, we were trying to modernize our logo. Then we realized it was so good, why change it? We just dropped the apostrophe because it's easier, and when you go on the web, it just simplifies things.

Q How do you feel about the True Colors Tour?

A It's a great package. We've known Cyndi Lauper since she was in Blue Angel; we did a TV show with her back in '79 or '80. We don't have any competition; we're complementary. The audiences will groove to both bands. The challenge is that we just did this club tour that was a 90-minute set, and now we're going to have to cut it to 55 minutes.

Q How much of this tour is about the party and how much about the human-rights cause?

A The fact that it is the cause is a huge thing. We've always been a band who wants to put our money where our mouths are. We have political songs, but we don't like to hit people over the heads with stuff. So it's better to do benefits and causes and talk about it later rather than always trying to put it in the song.

Q How is your motel doing?

A We're adding another cabin, Lazy Lodge, and another Airstream trailer called North to Alaska. I still love shopping for the stuff. I like looking for things on tour. It's been a real fun project. My partner really runs it. It's kind of my fantasy where I want to stay. It's got the Airstream trailers right by the creek. They're all themed. There's Kate's HairStream.

Q Speaking of hair, how do you feel about Amy Winehouse stealing your beehive hairdo?

A That hairdo is eternal. It's Greek, it's '50s, it's '60s, it's 2008. When we named ourselves the B-52s, that's slang for big beehive hairdos. It was all about being Fellini-esque and changing it up and transformation; wearing a mask or a wig can be transformative in theater.

Q One seems to hear "Love Shack" everywhere. Do you ever get sick of it?

A I think we should be pretty bad to complain for having a hit. It's something to live up to, surely. ... It's great when you see people loving a song so much. "Love Shack" is like at every wedding and karaoke. You hear it in Target. I saw people shopping and singing along, which is even better.

Q Do you ever sing along?

A No, I don't jump out and start singing my part.

Jon Bream • 612-673-1719

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  • TRUE COLORS TOUR

    With: Cyndi Lauper, B-52s, Rosie O'Donnell, Tegan & Sara, the Cliks and host Carson Kressley.

    When: 6:30 p.m. Mon.

    Where: Target Center, 600 1st Av. N., Mpls.

    Tickets: $36-$126. 651-989-5151 or ticketmaster.com.

    Web: truecolorstour.com and b52s.com

    HEAR

    samples from the new B-52s album at startribune.com/music or call 612-673-9050 and enter 5326 to hear "Pump" and 5327 for "Funplex."

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