On the phone, the B-52s’ lead yeller Fred Schneider is a disappointingly normal-sounding dude. Either that, or he was inexplicably less than thrilled to be in his current location — a Birmingham, Alabama, hotel — or not stimulated unto shouting by questions such as “Why’d you finally drop the apostrophe from your name?” (Answer: “It was incorrect grammatically. I didn’t even give it a second thought.”) But if we were a little saddened (and confused; we actually asked if we had the right number) by Schneider’s failure to speak in his signature hyperactive staccato and non sequiturs (“Hello! How are you! Lumpy mashed potatoes!”) we understand: He probably doesn’t have all that much energy to spare. In addition to extensive touring with the Bs in support of 2008’s Funplex, he’s moonlighting with the Superions, an Orlando, Florida-based project that allows him to get his croon on. We discussed all these things in the surprisingly exclamation-point-free conversation below. Do the escalator!
I read the B-52s have a live album in the works. Does that have a release date?
No, it has no release date yet. We’re still finding people to remix it. We have three shows to go through and pick out the best take of each song.
You’ve come out against pirating music. Do you feel like bands like yourself that were popular before internet piracy was an issue are affected less than new groups?
Well, in the past, you depended on your record royalties to help support yourself, and if you don’t make the royalties — We’re lucky in that we can still do well performing live. I don’t know how a lot of bands starting out can do it, if people just take a few of their songs and they don’t really get known. For us, it’s expensive to do a record because all of us have to be in the same place and we all have to fly down, and there’s just a lot of expenses. But that’s what happens, and you live and learn.
Have you done any writing recently? Are you doing any more books or poetry?
I have a solo project called the Superions, and I’m devoting a lot of my time to that now. Everything’s sort of set in motion for us, so I’ve been devoting my time to writing a Christmas album, a Halloween album, and a regular album with my two friends. We’ve done videos, and we have a video contest on right now for people to remix the one song that wasn’t remixed `from the self-titled EP released in January`. It’s just happened that all the sudden we had a record deal.
Are you planning on touring with them anytime soon?
Well, we need to rehearse. There’s only three of us. One does the music, and I do the singing, and one works the computer and works on the arrangements too. So, we’ll see.
After touring for more than two decades, do you get sick of playing “Rock Lobster” and “Love Shack”?
No, because we’re lucky in that we just do things a little different every night, and we never know what’s going to happen onstage. Crazy things happen, funny things happen, so it’s always interesting and different, thank God. I mean there’s songs I don’t care to perform, but I’m not going to say which ones. But luckily we don’t do them. •