Kate Pierson was on her second cup of coffee in her Woodstock, New York, home when we called her to chat. The redheaded singer of the B-52's is way more than a big voice, bouffant, and bellbottoms, she also owns, runs, and decorates two hotels with her partner Monica.
is located in upstate New York, and their newest venture is an Airstream oasis in Landers, California, Kate's Lazy Desert
near Joshua Tree, the Andromeda Astrological Society
, and the Integratron
Pierson spends time off the road enjoying fruit from her garden, appearing on Top Chef, preparing for a solo album, and postulating the future of digital music. She'll be recreating the atmosphere of the legendary "Love Shack" and feeding us audio "Rock Lobster" this Wednesday night in Hollywood at the Hard Rock Live with the rest of the B-52's.
New Times: You were on Top Chef recently...
Kate Pierson: Oh yeah, Fred (Schneider) and I were on Top Chef Masters on Bravo.
What was it like being on a food show like that? Was it intense?
It was really fun. My partner Monica religiously watches certain food shows and cooking shows, and I'm kind of into it. It was different. Those kind of shows are really fun to be on. It's not scripted or anything. The only thing is when they taped it maybe a year ago, they said we couldn't say anything about it because it's always very secretive. We were going to be surprise guests. I almost forgot it was on.
So many people have seen it and commented on it and really loved it. I can't believe so many people have seen these shows! There are so many shows on TV, how could so many people have seen that.
It's such a popular program. You got to eat the food? They said you're a vegetarian.
I'm not really, but it says I'm a vegetarian. I used to be a vegetarian, now I'm a pesca... I don't know, I eat fish and some chicken. Whatever they call that. On the road, it just got too hard.
You were also on my favorite channel HGTV on A Gardner's Diary.
That was a really long time ago. My garden up here in Woodstock, New York, that my friend Dean Riddle
was the master gardner at. Now we do our own big garden. We have our own vegetable garden. I'm eating a peach now right from our fruit tree.
Do you live at Lazy Meadow (her bed and breakfast in the Catskills) or near there?
Lazy Meadow is down the road. And we recently opened up Kate's Lazy Desert in Landers, near Joshua Tree. It's an Airstream hotel.
Any new news to report on the band?
People ask, what's your touring schedule? Well, it's just been nonstop since we released Funplex about four or five years ago. Since then we've had a touring style that's different to what we've previously done. We'd write an album, take a year to write, then we'd tour for a year, and in the case when we released Cosmic (Thing), we toured for two years.
So, we've relaxed into this different kind of touring where we've go out and do a few shows. We go out for a few weeks, a weekend, and come home. In the summer we've been touring pretty solidly. In the past, we did the True Colors tour with Cyndi Lauper and a bunch of other people when we first released Funplex
. This past summer we did some shows with Squeeze
and then the summer before we did the Human League. So, come the end of September we're taking a bit of a break to regroup.
You've been able to work with so many different musicians over the years. Do you have any tales, tour stories, stories about Cyndi Lauper?
It's fun, cause we've been friends with a lot of the bands that we started out with or who started at the same time. Like we really started in a similar era to Squeeze. They're amazing. We met Cyndi Lauper when she was in Blue Angel in like 1979 on a TV show in Europe. She was on that show and Hall and Oates were on that show too.
Years later, we've always had contact with Cyndi Lauper. True Colors was pretty amazing, all the bands, Rosie O'Donnell was amazing, Jane Lynch, all these people came through, it was like a traveling circus. It's fun to travel with other bands. We've had a few shows with the Bangles. The Talking Heads, when we first started, we opened for them, so over the years we stayed in touch with them, the Tom Tom Club. Just keeping in touch with those people and seeing them over the years is gratifying.
It's definitely a generation of musicians that are still relevant. It's almost like it's timeless pop music.
I'm finding with Funplex that, I don't know if it's that young people are really into eighties now or what, but there are a lot of young people in our audiences now. It started out with people bringing their kids to our concerts and now, and now they're coming on their own without their parents.
Do you listen to newer acts?
This (Woodstock) was founded as an arts colony, the Maverick Theater
that was built in, I think, 1916, it was part of the Woodstock farm colony building. It's very rustic and they have these amazing classical concerts there on every Saturday and Sunday. We just went to see Ebene Quartet
from Paris, a jazz and classical string quartet. Then last night, I went to Bard College here, there was a performance of the Henry the Eighth
opera. It's just amazing to hear classical music. I hadn't been to a classical concert in quite a while. It's just a whole different sensation. It's music, but, it's a very different kind of experience.
It must be very inspiring to be surrounded by music like that.
I'm writing a solo stuff now, which I'll record hopefully in the fall. It's really important to listen to other music. It's inspiring. All kinds of music. Our band has always had eclectic influences. Fred is an avid record collector. He has his own side project, the Superions
. He has so many, I can't even fathom how many records he has. He has such eclectic taste. He's always finding new things. We started out in Athens, Georgia, listening to everything from Perez Prado to Nino Rota to Yma Sumac, to of course a lot of soul music that we would dance to, James Brown and Aretha Franklin.
Vinyl's back. Do you listen to vinyl?
No, I don't really listen to vinyl. I have a lot of vinyl stored away. My father had a lot of 78s but I don't know what to do with them. I grew up listening to a lot of jazz and big band music and contemporary, like he had Yma Sumaz and Perez Prado records too. He was a jazz guitar player, so I heard a lot of music growing up.
I hate CDs, the cover's always broken. I prefer tapes to CDs. But I've gone digital now. The sound is not as good, but at least I can access things when I want to hear it.
It's streamlined. You don't have to think about it.
You have to wonder though, what's going to happen to it when... I have all these records, but what's going to happen to all of that digital music.
You're right, it's like just out there, nothing solid. I never thought about that. Because it's not actually on anything.
I know there's a hard version of everything somewhere.
If ever iPods all died, what would be do? The musical apocalypse.