Kate Pierson is no stranger to the Athens scene, and this summer she’s coming home. As one of the founding member of legendary The B-52's, she has decades of musical experience under her belt, but this year she has embarked on a solo project. She is coming to the Georgia Theatre to support her debut solo album "Guitars and Microphones."
Pierson’s solo project is a lifelong dream fulfilled. Since The B-52's, of which she is still a member, have scaled down their touring, this has been the perfect time to pursue it.
“It feels great to do something different. It feels liberating,” Pierson said. “I feel like there’s a freedom in it, in a whole new venture. It’s almost how it was when The B-52's first started.”
Pierson credits her partner Monica Coleman with getting the ball rolling on this particular venture, and names Sia, who is the executive producer of her record, as a huge creative influence in this enterprise.
“[Coleman and I] were friends with Sia, and I didn’t even know her as a singer when I first met her. [Coleman] asked Sia if she could help me get this launched off the ground,” said Pierson. “So I went out to Los Angeles, and we wrote, and we put it out there. Monica helped me put it out as the business end of it.”
For Sia, she has nothing but praise.
“Working with her was a joy, because she can really give the artist that she’s working with what they want,” Pierson said. “She lets them take the lead on all the titles and the content and direction of the song, but she’s really a genius when it comes to lyrics and putting her own lyrics in and melodies.”
In order to promote "Guitars and Microphones," Pierson has had to juggle her individual touring with her commitments to The B-52's. While it may seem like a demanding and hectic schedule, Pierson takes it all in stride, relishes the freedom of her solo work and finds newfound appreciation for her work with The B-52's.
“It’s been great going back and forth,” Pierson said. “It gives me a refreshed feeling when I play with The B-52's, and it’s given me a lot of strength to do my solo stuff.”
Naturally, being a founding member of a legendary group has drawn particular scrutiny to her work, which she acknowledges is one of the challenges of branching out and releasing her own material.
“People are going to compare my record to The B-52's, but I didn’t aim for it to be totally different nor did I aim for it to be like The B-52's,” Pierson said. “It’s a totally new thing, and it's being received as that.”
The B-52's were heavily influenced by the Classic City, and so her return to Athens to promote “Guitars and Microphones” has special significance for her.
“It’s always great to go back to Athens. It’s sort of magical there,” Pierson said. “I know a lot of old friends are coming, and that’s wonderful to know that I’ll have the support of a lot of people I know, but I hope that a lot of students come out and check it out.”
As for what to expect during her Athens performance, there will be suggestions of the past as well as new surprises.
“There are gonna be a couple of surprise songs, and I’m adding some special songs that relate to The B-52's and to things that I’ve done,” Pierson said. “In other words, I think it’s relatable to all ages.”
Due to Pierson’s stature as a groundbreaking artist in the Athens music scene, there has been some buzz among music aficionados locally.
The manager of Wuxtry Records downtown recalls Kate and The B-52’s fondly.
“I own pretty much all of their records, and we have a couple of them in store,” he said.
He has also kept up with Kate’s solo work.
“I listened to the single from her album, and it’s fun. I was hoping to check out the album before her show,” he said. “Kate has a great voice.”
Marketing Director of the Georgia Theatre, Katie Carmody, also expressed her excitement at Kate’s eminent performance.
“A hometown play for any artist is always great,” Carmody said. “The B52’s are one of the original iconic classic Athens, Georgia-based bands to break out of this town and have a global impact.”
This sentiment isn’t lost on Pierson herself.
“Athens is such a special place,” Pierson said. “It always feels like home to me, and I always look forward to playing there.”