What did Kate Pierson do during the 16-year break between the B-52's albums? She opened her own "love shack" of course.You’ve heard it before: A band takes a break between albums, and its members take off in dif- ferent, often dizzying, directions. So it’s no sur- prise that during the 16 years that have passed since the B-52’s last studio album, redheaded chanteuse Kate Pierson has spent time singing with another group. A supergroup, actually. From Japan. And named NiNa. Actually, maybe that is a little surprising. ¶ But what’s even more unexpected is that Pierson has also spent her time away from the B-52’s running Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel in New York’s Catskills region. The funky 1950s-era motel in Mount Tremper (that’s where it’s at) is a little old place with nine rooms (and two Airstreams) that’s set way back on nine acres. There, travelers with an appreciation for kitsch and mod design can get together. ¶ This year, Pierson will be getting away from her get- away. She’ll be touring to support the B-52’s new album, Funplex. Due out March 25, the 11-track CD sports an updated, dance-oriented sound. “It has a more electronica feel,” Pierson says. “It’s more modern in its approach to the rhythm.” ¶ Pierson spoke to us about how she balances her involvement with the updated B-52’s with work at her throwback haven for travelers.
What inspired you to open Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel? When I first saw the land, I fell in love with it. It’s a rustic motel on beautiful land by Esopus Creek. I thought, We’ll decorate, rent them out, maybe make a theme — it will be easy.
But of course, it led to the much more difficult task of [learning] how to run a hotel. Monica Coleman [Pierson’s partner] was able to get a grip on the business aspect of it, and we are really rocking now.
You’ve described it as your “cabin-fever fantasy.”
It is my fantasy. I have a collection of House & Gar- den magazines from the 1950s and ’60s. I would stare at them and think, If I had a kitchen like that, a turquoise kitchen.... Monica found one in this crazy salvage place, a full-on turquoise 1950s kitchen set with the cabinets, refrigerator — the whole nine yards. It’s fantastic. ¶ We did the whole thing in a ’50s theme, but some of the rooms have more of a ’60s twist. Some are more ’50s rustic modern. We have Eames and IKEA, kitschy kitchens, great examples of design. We have a great setup. There’s a campfire by the creek. The Airstreams are just beautiful. The rooms are all decorated. We’re put- ting in some fireplaces. We’re always improving. It’s kind of like the band in a way, because people have such a good time there.
Are there any lessons you’ve learned from traveling on tour that you now apply as a hotel owner? I’m trying to remain true to the rustic roots of this motel. It is a motel, not a hotel. It’s not about pillow mints or people running around saying, “My pleasure.” We emphasize the personal contact. The coziness factor is very high on my list. We want our guests to have a really cozy experience, like home. Comfortable yet an element of exotic fantasy and whimsy.
With the B-52’s new album and tour, you’ll be spend- ing some time in other people’s hotels now. There’s been such a long dry spell for the B-52’s. What makes now the right time for making more music? Keith Strickland got charged up to write the music. He felt he could write the music and do something
that was us and yet different at the same time. He pushed it in a more advanced rock direction, which we’ve always been. When we first started, we were new wave but really danceable, with elements of punk but also with elements of disco. We had a danceability and party sensibility.
On the band’s website, you declare yourselves the “world’s greatest party band.” You know, someone asked me, “Twenty years from now, what will be your legacy?” At first, I thought there should maybe be a little more emphasis on the music, that we’re not just the hairdos. The music and the lyrics are important. We do have messages in our songs. But the most important thing is that people have fun when they see us. That is a huge gift.
In addition to touring, you’re planning some YouTube-type promos for Funplex. We want a much more grassroots approach without things getting overbloated. In the 1980s and 1990s, there were just massive videos, with so much money spent on them. People want to see something more fun, more whimsical. Rock videos have become such a cliche, and there’s an opportunity to do some re- ally off-the-wall stuff with YouTube.