B-52's Hint at Treasure Trove of Vintage Live Footage
The B-52's live album and DVD "With the Wild Crowd! -- Live in Athens, GA" (out Tuesday) -- may be "just the beginning" for the group documenting its concert work, according to co-founder Keith Strickland.
"I would love to do a lot more," Strickland tells Billboard.com, noting that the group "has a lot of stuff" from earlier incarnations, including footage of the original lineup with late guitarist Ricky Wilson.
"There's tons of stuff," Strickland says. "We have some good concerts from early on, after our first and second album, that haven't been out there in DVD form or anything. In 1980, one of our first tours, I bought a video camera, which was this huge thing that sat on your shoulder. I lugged that thing around and recorded a lot of stuff of us in the dressing room, stuff like that." Strickland says there's also footage of a daytime concert at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, shot by a light tech who had no other responsibility that day.
"I said, 'Why don't you film us?' and she walked around and filmed us on stage," Strickland recalls. "It's a really great document of us early on and very up-close, like right there. It's a lot of fun to watch."
Strickland says his hope is to gather together a variety of material "and put together something documenting our early days and what life was like for us. It would be a lot of fun to do. We just have to say 'Let's do it' and have everybody pitch in and try to make it work. It's just a matter of us sitting around and agreeing -- which is quite a feat in itself!"
Until that point, fans will have to be satisfied with "With the Wild Crowd!," which comes out Oct. 11 and was filmed and recorded at a February concert at the Classic Center in Athens, Ga., nearly 34 years to the day after the B-52's first performance for a friend's Valentine's Day party. And though Strickland says that he and the other group members "are not big fans of being filmed," they're happy with the finished product.
"It was kind of emotional in a way because it was like coming full circle," Strickland remembers. "And of course the audience was full of friends and fans who traveled from all over to come see the show, so it was very exciting, very festive. People were dressed up and really into it, which is what we encourage." And, he adds, that fanaticism inspired the "With the Wild Crowd!" title, which is drawn from a lyric in the opening song "Pump."
"For me it was almost like a thank-you to our fans," Strickland says. "A lot of fans have been asking for a live DVD, so we just thought we would include them in the title. It just seemed very obvious they should be in included. The camera's on them as much as it's on us."
Strickland adds the the B-52's "done have any plans at this moment" for new music and a follow-up to 2008's "Funplex." Nevertheless he says that he's "always writing" and that he doesn't feel the band necessarily has to wait for an entire album's worth of tunes to put something fresh out these days.
"I would love to do something really quickly," he says. "In the past we would spend months writing an album or whatever. I don't feel it's necessary to do that anymore. To come up with one or two songs can be a lot of fun -- work up a song at sound check and then record it the next day or something. I like those kind of challenges where you limit yourself, because if you give yourself all the time in the world you'll take it, and that's not necessarily better. Sometimes it's exciting to work within certain constraints and see what you can create there."