Aureview.com Harry Wayne KC Interview
A man who knows how to please a crowd, I caught up with Harry Wayne "K.C." Casey from legendary outfit KC and the Sunshine Band as he was at home in Miami, Florida. We kicked things off looking at the present, and I asked Harry about the latest record he was recording, before we talked about their Easter 2014 return to Australia for Bluesfest in Byron Bay and a few sideshows..
How's the new record coming along?
It's great. I'm really excited about it. I think it's some of the best stuff I've ever done. It's 18 original songs and 17 songs from the 1960s.
So we're looking forward to a double album then?
What's taken you down that road?
Well it started out when I got a track from a remix DJ team in the UK by the name of Bimbo Jones and they sent me a track and I wrote some melody and words to it, and it re-energised me. And during my shows I like to throw in a cover of something, something the audience will be familiar with. So I'd been doing stuff like "Love The One You're With" (by Stephen Stills), "Say" by John Mayer or "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper, and I loved the energy of it all. So I thought, why don't I do an album of 60s covers?
It had been something I'd been wanting to do for a really long time, even before Rod Stewart and all those guys started doing it, but I just never got around to it. But I finally got into the studio, got the band together and said "let's do this!" and we've just been having a blast.
With the shows you've got coming up, both at home and down here in Australia, will you be incorporating some of those songs into your set?
Well, I'll definitely do a few things from the 60s in the show, and the album should come out before I arrive in Australia (this Easter), so who knows what from that will be in the show at that point. But I do try to keep the shows familiar. So if the album hasn't been released in Australia by the time I get down there, then I won't do too much from that.
How long has it been since you were last down here?
At least 6 or 7 years - maybe even longer! It has been a while...
Well it will be great to have you back. What have your experiences been like down here in the past?
I love it there. I have great memories of being down there. I've always considered it as one of my favourite places to go to in the whole world. I love the people, I love everything about it down there. I'm looking forward to it. It will be interesting, too, to see what's changed since I was last there! I'm sure there have been some major changes in the last 7 years or so down under!
Apart from all the frozen yogurt places that have popped up, I can't think of too much!
Oh but see that's a huge change! *laughs*
That's right! And before you finish out 2013 you'll be heading to Chile for some shows I understand? How has that part of the world treated the band over the years?
Yes we're about to head down there! They love us down there. It's pretty insane really, I can't walk the streets down there without getting mobbed! It's insane!
That must make for some pretty fun shows.
Yeah, crazy audiences!
You mentioned before that you try to keep the sets crowd pleasing, but there is a LOT of popular music to work with there. How DO you put your setlists together each night?
I try to stick to the major hits and I hope I haven't left anything out that was a particular hit in that region... but rather than doing a personal favourite album cut, I will try and do a cover song, like "Brick House". I'd rather keep it relevant to the time period pretty much than have a tantrum and do a favourite cut of mine. I've been to some shows where I sit through three songs of stuff I've never heard of, and it's just painful. So I want to bring nothing painful, just all enjoyment and a good time!
Your music has gone on to inspire music not only in the dance world, but in the hip hop world and everywhere in between. Is there anything that has surprised you with how your music has evolved and taken on a new life in that respect?
There has to be a little bit of surprise in there, with the longevity of it all, because historically when a song hits the top of the charts, it becomes a "classic song" and it's generally never heard of too much again. But now with rap and sampling, you have a chance for a rebirth of your music than you did twenty years ago. So it's quite exciting to see what parts they take and what they do with it and how they integrate it into their songs.
A great example of that is "Let Me Be Your Lover" that Stereo MCs turned into that great song "Connected". That whole backing track is me and my band performing. It's just amazing to see what people do to the tunes.
Has there been any times where that hasn't quite worked?
You know we get a lot of licence requests for covers and there have been some really great ones and some really bad ones, but I don't sit there and critique everything because music is an art, and everyone has their own interpretation, their adaptation. I'm sure they were proud of it and they loved the direction they took it, and who am I to judge that or make comment on it actually.
With recording your music, you mentioned you're at home working on it - have you generally recorded at home over the years?
I've always recorded here in Florida. I did do some stuff in Nashville and Los Angeles at one point, but that was out of necessity. I had to be there for some horn sessions and some background vocals. But I've never done any of the base recordings, the main backing tracks, outside of Florida.
What do you think has kept you local all these years?
I've had my own studio here for many years, so it was a lot less expensive and it made sense to just do it here. It's where I've lived and I was here most of the time so that's probably the reason why. I often wonder what might have happened if I had recorded elsewhere and gotten a different vibe - but that's not how it's turned out.
So what will be next for you? The new record I imagine?
We're still working out the release date for that one, which label it's going out on and things like that. But my next release in January, and I'm quite excited about this, is a remake of a song called "Give It Up" by a latin artist named Juan Carlos. And he had be do a guest appearance on the record along with Pitbull. So it should be interesting to see where that goes in the New Year.
KC & The Sunshine Band will play Bluesfest in Byron Bay over the Easter 2014 long weekend. They will also play the following sideshows:
Enmore Theatre, Sydney with WAR – THUR 17 APRIL 2014 ticketek.com.au 132 849
Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall with WAR – FRI 18 APRIL 2014 artscentremelbourne.com.au 1300 182 183
Tivoli, Brisbane – SAT 19 APRIL 2014 ticketmaster.com.au 1300 111 011