Music & clubs

A chat with… Fred Schneider of The B-52s

INTERVIEW. The B-52s might not bring political parties on tour anymore, but they're still dancing this mess around and flamboyant frontman Fred Schneider has views aplenty. The Deadbeat Club roams into Huxley's Neue Welt on Wed, Aug 21.

Image for A chat with... Fred Schneider of The B-52s

Photo by Pieter M. Van Hattem

Born out of Athens, Georgia’s fecund new wave scene of the late 1970s, The B-52s have kept the party going since they fished a Rock Lobster out of the Oconee River some 35 years ago.

They remained cultish goofballs until Fred Schneider’s campy and salacious Sprechstimme on “Love Shack” off of Cosmic Thing (1989). Dance this mess around Huxley’s Neue Welt on Wed, August 21.

Thirty years on, are The B-52s still “The Deadbeat Club”?

We have our fights, we have our disagreements, but overall, we’re all in this together and believe in what we do and care for each other. I mean, I can’t say everything’s innocent. We have separate dressing rooms: you know, girls in one and guys in the other. It’s not like Northern Europe where you go in the steam bath and everyone’s naked. [Laughs]

Do you still like touring?

We still do a bus tour sometimes, which I don’t like, you know, ‘cause it’s like coffins on wheels. Curtains [laughs]. No, but it’s okay. Well, just recently we had some guy who was going crazy at the front of the audience and then he started hitting this girl. And then he went away – they dragged him out, then he came back and the girl next to the friend of the girl punched him and knocked him out. [Laughs] Like, “Hello!” God, what goes on at our show? Everyone’s going “Yeah, you go girl.” Get rid of that jerk. We don’t want violence at our shows.

Just toward your record company.

They’re going to re-release [2008’s] Funplex [EMI] ‘cause, uh, people in Europe did not really get to hear it because of the crappy label we were on. The label was just awful: I don’t know what they did, they were just a bunch of liars.

Does the party ever end?

It’s better to be at a party than behind a desk.

I’m sure more of your fans are pot smokers than Republicans.

No, I don’t think too many are Republican. The ones that are, I ask them to get off my Facebook. [Laughs]

That should be a B-52s song.

But, you know, I’ve only smoked pot once since, I don’t know, 1992. I mean, it got too strong. [Laughs] I like giggle weed, you know, where you just smoke pot and then fall out of the car. It got to the point where I’d take one puff and I couldn’t function, not want to answer the phone, not want to answer the door. But, you know, if people want to do it, it’s fine with me. It’s better than being a Republican. Our country is so divided. I mean, I live down South and I know all those senators are just racist. They’re like stubborn dogs that can’t be trained.

You used to take political groups with you on the road.

When we tour now it’s more stripped down, so we don’t really have the groups comin’ along with us. We do interviews and I get to contribute to things I believe in. Everything from AIDS, the environment, planned parenthood, uh, corporate responsibility. We have a supreme court that’s on the take, that’s totally corrupt. They’re not judicial. The African-American justice is an idiot and the chief justice is not honest. The fact that companies are “citizens” – if they’re citizens, you know, and they do something wrong, execute ‘em.

So you believe in the death penalty.

For corporations. Like BP and Exxon Mobil.

THE B-52s w/ Klimmstein Wed, Aug 21, 19:00 | Huxley’s Neue Welt, Hasenheide 108-114, Neukölln, U-Bhf Hermannplatz

Originally published in Issue #118, July/August 2013.