The B-52s -- from left, Cindy Wilson, Fred Schneider, and Kate Pierson -- are going strong after more than 40 years. (Courtesy Pieter M. Van Hattem)

Catching up with Fred Schneider and the long-lasting B-52s

Fred Schneider thinks he knows why his quirk-rocking little Athens, Ga. combo The B-52s is still popular after 43 years, especially on its annual summer shed and winery tours. “Basically no one does what we do,” he says of his long-running lineup with Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson. “And the band still gets along great.” The group’s surreal spoken-sung 1970s standards like “Rock Lobster” had no aesthetic equal, and even less so today. Another factor in its longevity, adds the Long Island-based singer, 67: “Music back then was way better than it is now, because people don’t write melodies anymore; they just do a repetitive riff. I guess they don’t have decent attention spans anymore.” The B-52s also have an upcoming two-disc rarities retrospective, for which they’ll compose two new tracks.
It’s amazing that you’re now selling official B-52s Converse Chuck Taylors.

It was done through our merch. I always wear Chuck Taylors, but then I found out that you could actually get your own shoes, so I mentioned it to the band, and they said, “Yeah! Let’s do it” And we got ‘em. That’s how it works. Like, I saw a motorcycle jacket I liked, and I mentioned that The B-52s needed a motorcycle, and someone actually came up with one. It’s on our website and it’s great.

Seth MacFarlane is a huge supporter. He even did an “Iraq Lobster” sketch on “Family Guy.” Who else has surprised you by being a fan?

Bonnie Raitt. When she won her Grammy, she turned around and whispered, “I love you guys!” That was great. But we apparently have all kinds of fans, artists who were inspired by us. I went to the 40th anniversary of “Saturday Night Live” and all the women from “Bridesmaids” were there, too, like Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, and they all asked if they could meet us. Asked. If they. Could meet… us!

What hobbies do you have? Are you a big collector of anything?

Old space toys, pottery. I collect all kinds of things. People think that I live in a space pod, but it’s pretty mid-century modern.

What other projects are you working on?

I have some film things in the works that it’s too early to talk about, and I’m doing an album with Brian Hardgroove from Public Enemy. And I’m part of a coffee company now, Community Roasters; I do Fred’s Monster Blend. Elvira has a blend, too. I’ve written songs for her before. That’s the luxury of doing what I want to do. It doesn’t cost me anything to write some fun stuff for folks, because I just really enjoy a challenge.

IF YOU GO
The B-52s
Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 31-Nov. 1
Tickets: $80
Contact: (415) 885-0600, www.livenation.com

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