Exclusive Interview: Cindy Wilson of the B-52s

by Angie Ripple

Cindy Wilson, vocalist, songwriter and a founding member of new wave rock band The B-52s, was just “chillin’ out” in Athens, GA about to rehearse with her band when we spoke on a Sunday afternoon just a couple of days before she hit the skies and then road to perform a new show called “Change.”

Angie Ripple: Hi Cindy, I’m glad we could connect; thank you for talking to us.

Cindy Wilson: I’m excited; its going to be a good show!

AR: When are you hitting the road?

CW: We’ll start touring in a couple of days. We’ve got a show tonight in Athens, a send off to Europe, you know a few friends and fans are coming. It’s at a real small bar in Athens that’s very cozy, and we’ll be heading out Tuesday to fly to London, and then we plan to have a couple of days of getting over jet lag before [we’ll be at the Treefort Music Fest in Boise before arriving in Bozeman on March 26]. We are very excited about doing that region because we haven’t gotten to it yet.

AR: By “we” you mean the solo band?

CW: Ya, that’s we, but the B-52s will be doing a lot of shows coming up with Culture Club, which I can’t wait, because I am such a fan of Boy George. He’s got such a cool voice, I love it. It will be tremendous to be touring with Culture Club; I think that’s going to be great.

AR: Absolutely, I’m a fan too. What can the fans in Bozeman expect from your solo tour?

CW: Well it’s totally different from what I do with the B-52s, but we’ve added some more up tempo songs, so there is a diverse style. It’s almost like a musical in a way, theatrically speaking. It’s like the album, but of course we’ve added more songs to it. It flows from beginning to end, and it’s really cool the way people react to it. We’ve got so many great people sayin’ they love it, so I’m really happy with it.

It’s going to be hittin’ the road in a van just like the beginning of the B-52s. When we started it was in a van, staying at cheap hotels and drivin’ to each gig, but you know what, we’ve been doing that in the states and it’s been such an adventure, and you really get to have a closer relationship with the audience. And afterwards, I get to talk to people, and it’s been amazing to hear everybody’s story about what the B-52s had meant to them in their youth, and a time of their life where it really means a lot. So it’s been great; it’s been a real perk to being closer to the fans.

AR: I really enjoyed preparing for our interview by watching a bunch of B-52s music videos; it was really fun. Since you mentioned Athens, how much has it changed there since the beginning?

CW: Ya, you know change, you can’t stop change. Athens is changing. The University has much more students than the old days and they’re building condominiums, and the population of Athens is bigger. But still it retains a wonderful art presence there, and there’s lots of clubs to go to, and lots of restaurants, and it’s very modern. You walk down the street in Athens and you can still run into friends. It’s a trip, it’s great, that’s really great, I love that. There’s a really magical energy you hear, you can feel it as soon as you drive over the city limits into Athens; its just magical. There’s a lot of creative energy here, and the youth, the energy of their presence here is always changing with every year there’s a new batch of people, and it’s beautiful to watch them walk around town. They’re like flowers, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful energy. And there are still Athenians that have always been here, and its a cool kind of thing. I just can’t get over how modern it is.

AR: Bozeman is experiencing a lot of growth and change, and I’m hoping we can still hold on to some of the artistic and historical roots. And we do have a University which keeps it fresh and young, and I appreciate that a lot.

CW: Uh huh, and I do hate all of the condominiums springing up, and to much of it, but...

AR: That’s happening here too, and the old timers are fighting it and hating it, but like you said change is always happening, and we have to embrace it.

CW: Embrace it, ya, but it’s good to have a historic society, and try to stand up for certain buildings and not tear down some history; that really would be terrible. I think Athens is trying to do that.

AR: We feature a lot of historical stuff in Bozeman Magazine, and we try not to forget where we came from. My children and I were just at the Gallatin History Museum last night, and I’m not sure folks from Bozeman really know all that they have there, but it’s a great place to learn about our local history.

CW: I can’t wait to come over, and I hope to build in some time there, instead of just hit it and quit it. I can’t wait.

AR: What kind of music is on your playlist these days?

CW: Oh god, I’ve been doing Pandora a lot which is a lot easier than buying, and stuff. I put on some bands that I love and then I put it on scramble and I never know what’s going to come up. So, a very diverse style of music, and it works, I’m always surprised.

I love traditional bluegrass, but I don’t like them using that kind of tuner on their voice, because I like to hear the mistake, you know what I mean? So, I like it more real, and I love real country, old fashioned country. And then, I love Bossa nova, South American music. I definitely like diversity. I’ve totally been going crazy over Tame Impala, they’ve been around for a few years, their still a young band from Australia, but they major kick butt! It’s good song writing, its got a good emotion, and its recorded excellently, I just can’t say enough about it.

There is so much freshness going on. It’s exciting to hear the way bands are recording these days not to do perfection, but to put some grit and texture into the recording, and so it’s kind of ear candy and it’s not sterile, but has a depth to it.
I’m loving the psychedelic stuff that’s coming out, and the playfulness, and just having fun with the music. It’s a mixed bag with me.

AR: You’ll be out of town for The Flaming Lips in Athens, but you have a good excuse.

CW: That’s a good ticket to get. I could kick myself for not being able to go. But I’m excited about playing small clubs and like I said we’re starting over again and it’s terrific. I thinks it’s really cool to be able to do that. And nobody’s been doing us favors; we’re having to do it all ourselves and prove ourselves, and it’s great. If it does well, great, and to me I’m happy already about it. It’s really hard these days to be in music and the reason you do it has to come from an organic place in you, not that you have to do it, or it’s that you really want to want to do it, and that’s where we are. And I get to work with such cool people, and it’s a good excuse to get to go out and do something that you love doing.

AR: I’m sure you’ll have a welcome reception here; it will be good.

CW: Groovy! Thank you for having me!

Cindy Wilson will be at the at the Filling Station Monday, March 26th at 8 p.m. w/ Easter Island & Panther Car opening. 21+ only show. Tickets are $22 – General Admission, and $39 VIP (includes meet-&-greet after the show) which must be purchased in advance at: cactusrecords.net/events/cindy-wilson-b-52s/

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