06/05/2014

Beat.com.au-Tyson Wray Article KC and The Sunshine Band

Like many others of Generation Y, I was first introduced to the infectious horns, voluptuous licks and dulcet tones of KC and the Sunshine Band as the soundtrack to a montage of animated nudity. It was in 1995 with the family crowded around a dusty 52cm screen Magnavox: "I'm Troy McClure and I'll leave you with what we all came here to see: hardcore nudity!" It's this crude ending to The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular, featuring trimmed cuts from episodes with characters in various states of undress, which sears into my mind whenever the chorus of (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty peaks on a dance floor. 

This is of course quite possibly the most miniscule of blips on the radar that surveys the gargantuan achievements of KC and the Sunshine Band. Since first forming in 1973 in the heartland of Miami the group have sold over 100 million records worldwide, been awarded multiple Grammys, battled through an eight-year hiatus and arguably most importantly helped shape the contemporary pop landscape through their delicate blend of funk, disco, soul and R&B. "Our records have had a tremendous amount of influence on music in the past 40 years, and even today's music," notes Harry "KC" Wayne Casey in a burly Southern accent. “I hear our riffs and stuff in so much music out there, even to this day. I'm listening to music these days and still thinking, 'That sounds really close to one of mine'. We really were the group that was responsible for the whole dance revolution that took place."   

Indeed their influence is undeniable. With a back-catalogue that hosts some of the most ubiquitous hits of the past four decades including That's the Way (I Like It), I'm Your Boogie Man, Get Down Tonight, Give It Up and Please Don't Go, there are few accomplishments left for the group to achieve in the contemporary music industry. "I try not to focus on what I haven't done yet," shares Casey humbly. "I mean at the moment I just want to have another record out there that everybody really loves, enjoys and embraces. I love what I'm doing, I love performing, I love writing music and I just keep doing what I'm doing. I love meeting the fans out there – that really satisfies me. I just do what I do, well, because I love doing it."   
In recent times Casey has been fine-tuning his live performance on weekends around the States, but he has his eyes firmly set on delivering a new record to the world. "I've been working very hard on a new album, that's really taken up most of my time for the past two years and I think it's going to be released later this year. It's looking like it'll be a double [album], but hey, it could be a triple!" he laughs. "There are 18 original songs and 17 songs from the '60s. I've been working with a remixer from the UK by the name of Bimbo Jones, he's worked with Lady Gaga, Madonna, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, you name it. I've collaborated with him on some songs, I've done some with the band. I'm really excited about it and I think it's the best work that I've ever done.   

"I tried to select stuff that I felt outlined my life of the past 63 years, it was hard to do, y'know? To pick through my emotions and my thoughts and what I do in my everyday life. My lyrics aren't as simplistic as they once were on the original records. They're a lot more mature. Well, there's a lot more words in them than there used to be," he laughs. "I was just trying out new things, trying different stuff, letting the emotions run through me. These emotions are completely different to what they were 40 years ago.  
 “Some of it are things I'm feeling, some of it are things that I've dreamed of feeling, wanting and never quite had. I've never sounded better vocally. I'm really excited in the way that it all sounds as a whole: the music, the vocals, the songs, the lyrics. Everything has come together in a completely different way from how we recorded years ago. It's exciting and it feels refreshing."   

While Casey is no doubt reflecting on his past while writing and recording for his future, he details that he ensures to keep a keen ear on what's dominating radio stations worldwide in the present. "I'm pretty much a top 40 guy, so whatever is in the charts is what I'm tuned into, whoever is the hot ticket at the moment is who I'm listening to. Happy by Pharrell Williams – I love that song. Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke and Say Something by A Great Big World, although I can't really remember who's in the top 10 this week," he laughs.   
Returning to Australia next month for an appearance at Bluesfest alongside a series of headline theatre performances, Casey notes that eight years between visits Down Under is far too long for his liking. "I've always loved coming to Australia, I've found the people to be very warm, kind, charming and gracious. I love all of the cities – all of 'em. They all have their own characters and identity, they're just fun places to be in. Whenever somebody has asked me where my favourite place to go in the world is I've pretty much always just said Australia. So, there you have it!   

"The show is completely differently choreographed compared to when I was last in Australia," he notes when looking towards the upcoming tour. "I do try to keep things relatively familiar for the audience, however, I try not to play obscure cuts from the albums. It's a really high energy show. There are 15 of us onstage and everybody is a really important part of the show."   
Setting his sights beyond the Australian tour, Casey notes that he hopes to keep his current modus operandi well into the future. "We tour all the time so that's how I see myself spending the rest of the year, but I guess the what happens with the record will really dictate that," he explains. "If it's a huge hit or we have a huge single then that's going to change things completely for us. I don't know those answers yet. Hopefully I'll be able to continue to keep touring and keep good health – that's what I love doing and that's what I'm looking forward to."   
BY TYSON WRAY