A Funky Chat with KC of KC and the Sunshine Band

A Funky Chat with KC of KC and the Sunshine Band

Photo: A. Streiber
Photo: A. Streiber

Harry Wayne “KC” Casey of KC and the Sunshine Band is busy. KC has so many new projects that it’s hard to believe his first number one hit, Get Down Tonight, charted 40 years ago.

In March, the man who helped define disco music released Feeling You!: The 60s, KC’s take on some of the most iconic songs of that decade. A second LP of funky original material, Feeling You!, is planned for August. And there’s his participation on a Beatles tribute album. Through it all, KC remains disco’s fiercest advocate.

Though the term “disco” is rarely heard today, KC maintains that dance music never went away. Many people declared disco dead on July 12, 1979 when Disco Demolition Night was staged at Comiskey Park, home of baseball’s Chicago White Sox.

Albums were blown up in center field and fans overran the field in a disastrous promotion that led to at least nine injuries and 39 arrests.

Dance music has survived and so has KC. Feeling You!: The 60s is his first album in over a decade. KC tells Rock Cellar about his latest releases – and why he believes disco music gets no respect, no respect at all.

kc sunshine band feeling you artwork

Rock Cellar Magazine: What inspired you to record a new album of ‘60s classics?

KC: I used to like to do obscure tracks in my show. I noticed it wasn’t reaching a lot of the audience unless they were familiar with those albums. I started taking those songs out of the show and putting something familiar in, like Love the One You’re With. And everybody connected better with that because it was familiar to them. Then I went from that to doing True Colors and a slow version of I Hear a Symphony.

That was going over well and then I did a version of Stand By Me that received a great reaction. I was already in the process of recording a whole new album of original material. When I kept listening to the album I thought why don’t I just make it a 2-CD release; one disc would be songs from the ‘60s and one would be this original material.

That’s how the ‘60s album was born.

Rockin’ Pneumonia-Boogie Woogie Flu, I did that one because I thought it would be a fun song to do live. There was no special meaning in that one. But some of the other ones have more of a personal meaning to me.

Photo: Chris Weeks
Photo: Chris Weeks

The more you hear about all these wars in the Middle East and all this stuff going on, I thought, wow, this song Blowin’ in the Wind that Bob Dylan wrote 50 years ago is so today.

We’re still looking for the fuckin’ answer, you know? And it’s still blowin’ in the wind.

Both Sides Now, I feel like I’ve really lived life from both sides. I’ve been up, I’ve been down, it’s just all of those things that I’ve gone through personally in the 64 years of my existence on this planet.

Put a Little Love in Your Heart came about after the Sandy Hook shootings. I was performing and I thought, you know what, I need to do this song tonight so we can all just think about putting more love in our hearts. And so I did it with just me and the keyboard player.

That’s why it’s so stripped down on the record and slow as it is, because I did this as a personal one-on-one with the audience. I just loved the way that it felt and the energy of it.

Sometimes in the more up-tempo version, the words get lost. Like I Hear a Symphony. Those are amazing words. I think slowed down, you really hear the words.

Rock Cellar Magazine: What is the feel of the new album of originals?

KC: There’s some funky stuff on it, there’s some stuff I’ve cut with the band, there are some tracks that I received from a DJ over in the UK named Bimbo Jones – his real name is Lee Dagger – and Marc JB. They sent me some tracks and I wrote the words and melodies to some of these tracks. So it’s very dance-dance.

The single that’s coming out at the end of April is called I Love You More. It’s definitely a dance record.

Lyrically I know it’s some of the best songs I’ve ever written. Tony Moran, a famous remixer, has done one of the remixes on it and that’s the version I think is coming out. It’s just a lot of great, fun stuff on there. There’s some different stuff, it’s not all the same.

Melodically, you know, I’m the king of melodies so it’s gonna have that for sure. So it’s really exciting. Hopefully that’s going to come out in August.

I’ve been in the studio the last few weeks recording my first Christmas CD and writing some amazing stuff with that. I don’t know what’s happened to me but it’s my 41st year, I feel just as creative as I did when I was 21 back at TK Records at the beginning of my career. It’s amazing how I’ve done this complete circle in my life.

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