'Funplex' keeps the B-52s in flight

Kevin C. Johnson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MCT)

The B-52s, a retro party band known for colorful vintage suits and beehive hairstyles, hasn't been the most consistent recording act in the past couple of decades.

Its latest album, "Funplex" in 2008, was the band's first since 1992 and "Good Stuff," which included the hit single of the same name.

Singer Fred Schneider says a number of things factored into the band's extended recording break, though it never stopped touring.

"We tried to get together to write, but the timing just wasn't right," Schneider says.

"We'd started writing it seven years ago, but we had a lot of business stuff to do and all that, and we had to pay for the record, do everything. We didn't have a label at the time, and we had new management. We had to change our whole mode of business. And that took a while."

But once the band's business affairs were settled, it was able to proceed with "Funplex."

"We finally felt we had it, and we felt excited," Schneider says. "We felt we'd written one good song after another, and that we were showing we were still a viable band with a new sound and crazy ideas."

On "Funplex," produced by Steve Osborne of New Order and Happy Mondays fame, "there's more electronics and altered voices. We just wanted to do something different, and we did it. But it still has the B-52s' sound. You'll still recognize the B-52s."

"Funplex" includes singles such as the title track and "Juliet of the Spirits."

"The new songs are really fun to perform, and some of them are my favorite songs that we've ever done," Schneider says. "I'm happy to be creating music that I like."

While the band will release an album taken from three concerts in Australia, "Funplex" may not be the last B-52s studio album, despite what has been reported, he says.

"I didn't say that in public, but who knows," Schneider says. "It's really expensive."

While the recording future is unclear for the B-52s, Schneider's other band, the Superions with Noah Brodie and Dan Marshall, recently put out a self-titled EP.

"I'm concentrating on the Superions now," Schneider says. "I have the luxury of doing the side project without any real expense involved."

With all this Superions activity, one has to wonder if Schneider's heart is now with Superions.

"The right ventricle is," he says. "But I keep the left side pumping with the B-52s."

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