As one of the B-52’s, Fred Schneider helped keep rock & roll’s sense of humor alive in the ’80s. More recently, he took a leave from the B’s to work in the studio with the un-campy likes of producer Steve Albini and members of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Six Finger Satellite, and Tar. The result: a collection of gritty punk-rock numbers, due out this week under the name Just Fred. ”I couldn’t call it ‘Fred,”’ he explains. ”Someone else owns the name, of all things.”
1. If you could pick music to be played at your funeral, what would it be?
Either a big dance blowout or cheesy console organ music with the sound of weeping and sobbing constantly in the background. I also want to have a solar-powered gravestone with a sound chip of people crying constantly.
2. Continuing in this morbid vein, if your apartment were on fire, what material possession would you grab first?
Actually, I already have this mechanism installed so that I press a button and inflatable slides pop out of the windows, and the records immediately start going down. And my high school diploma.
3. What B-52’s song would you choose to stick in a time capsule?
”Rock Lobster.” It still gets played as much now as it did when it came out, so …
4. What was the first record you ever bought?
The Buggs. My mother got it for me for 88 cents at the A & P. I still have it; it’s not bad. It’s like grade-B Beatles, with a cover that looks sort of like the first Beatles album.
5. Do you believe in UFOs?
There has to be intelligent life out there: There sure isn’t any here! Either that or Satan holds up this big black backdrop with lights shining through little pinholes and laughs at us.
6. If you were trapped in an elevator with three fictional characters, who would they be?
The guy who fixed the elevator in Towering Inferno; a King Midas type who’d give me money to buy records; and someone with a wheelbarrow to take the money out.
7. Do you have pets?
No, I’m too busy. Plus, it’s like having a kid: You have to spend too much time with them.
8. Do you have a favorite piece of clothing?
You know, I never developed a big clothing thing. I just buy stuff in thrift stores. It’s that or spend 200 bucks on a designer thing that looks like it was from a thrift store anyway.
9. What was the last band you went to see?
I saw a great band in Chicago. Wuhling. They’re from Germany. They play hypnotic, gloomy, precise music, and then at the end the lead singer tap-dances. What a finale! That’s the biz.
10. What is it about you that would surprise people?
Well, that I have an IQ of 190, but I have to play it down and act stupid for rock & roll purposes. And that I can fly, and tap-dance.