Photo: A. Streiber
KC Still At Bat:
The Sunshine Band leader discusses life, music, and Ashton Kutcher
KC & The Sunshine Band were pioneers and leaders of the Disco Era of the mid-70's, and have sold more than 100 million records. With chart topping hits like "Get Down Tonight" and "That's The Way (I Like It)," if you were on Earth you knew who KC & The Sunshine Band were. Over the years, times have changed and the music industry doesn't function in quite the same way, but the love for KC & The Sunshine Band's music has not swayed. Still a staple at every wedding or dance party, the music has proven itself to be timeless in its appeal. How many 70's bands can say they get played at today's high school dances? Not too many.
KC & The Sunshine Band were more of a studio entity in the 70's, and did not take their show on the road all that often. Since the resurgence of 70's music in recent years, KC has been playing close to 200 shows a year with his Sunshine Band. I had a chance to talk with KC about many different facets of his long career including the actor he might pick to portray him in a film, and his current work on new material.
By clicking on the play button below, you can listen to my unedited conversation with KC! Enjoy!
Dr. Music: Over the years, you've played everything from The Arsenio Hall Show to the Super Bowl. Do you have a most memorable show?
KC: Jeez. I don't know. They all meant something, or mean something. It's hard to say that one is more memorable. I mean, The Arsenio Hall Show was more memorable because it kind of re-awakened me from my retirement, my hiatus that I had taken. It made me realize that I wasn't doing what I love to do. But, there's been so many different things that I've done.
DM: Do you have a favorite song to play live?
KC: (laughs) You know, I enjoy doing them all. Of course, "Get Down Tonight" is kinda one of my favorite songs. It was one of my first big hits here in America. We were popular in Europe before we broke out in America.
DM: From what I understand, you used to record all of your shows from back in the 70's, review them like an athlete would, and change the things that you didn't like. Do you still do that? And, do you still have the old footage? Will we get a DVD of that old footage, possibly?
KC: There's one DVD already out there from an old concert done here in Miami in 1976, I think. Otherwise, I really wasn't great at filming a lot of stuff, which I kind of regret right now. I have some old cassette recordings of the live shows. We used to tape every show, and of course listen to it after the show and critique it, and go over it with everybody. I no longer do that, really. On occasion I might have the engineer run a show and give it a listen or whatever, but we don't do that as regularly as we did back in the 70's.
DM: Many artists from Beyonce to Rob Zombie have covered your songs, or sampled your songs. Is there any cover that you really love? Or, is there any cover that you just find revolting?
KC: Well, some have been really great, some have been really trash. I'm flattered that anybody covers my songs, and everybody's interpretation is different than what mine is going to be. It's like trying to critique an artist. How do you critique somebody, really? Everybody has their own artistic way of expressing themselves, or re-recording, or taking that piece of art and putting it in their own style. So, it's hard to critique somebody who had their own artistic view of what they felt they wanted it to be. I'm not going to compare it to mine, that would be crazy! I'm doing a whole album of 60's classics. There's nothing like the originals, so I would hate to be critiqued because their not like the originals. I mean, they're sort of like the originals - I try to keep the integrity of the original songs - but I've changed them a little bit; mainly, to adapt to my performing them.
DM: Are their any new artists that you follow?
KC: You know, I'm kinda like one of those fickle types. I always like everything, so whoever's the hottest flavor of the month is who I'm into, and when they're gone it's the next one. I don't know if there's anyone you can follow anymore, hardly. Katy Perry seems to be doing pretty good, and Pink a little bit, but it's very rare these days to have somebody you can follow I think. You're here one minute and gone the next in this business.
DM: If you ran upon somebody who hadn't heard KC & The Sunshine Band, what one song would you play for them? What one song do you think personifies KC & The Sunshine Band?
KC: I don't know! They were all very similar, but all very different at the same time. (long pause) Probably "That's The Way (I Like It)."
DM: Is there one song that's near and dear to you; a really special song for you?
KC: I don't know. Again, they all hold a very special, different meaning and place for me from each other. They're all different in their own light.
DM: When I think about this question, I think "Give It Up," just because you had such a belief in that song.
KC: Yeah, that's a good point, thank you. As a matter of fact, that's being re-released. It's been re-recorded by this Latin artist in Miami named John Carlos, and I make a guest appearance on it along with Pitbull. It's been re-named for this particular project called "Give It Up Tonight," but it is coming out in the next two weeks or so. It's a great version of the song. He kind of re-wrote the verses, but it's a great version of the song.
DM: If a movie was to be made of your life and your career, who would you like to portray you?
KC: Well, I've always thought maybe Ashton Kutcher could've portrayed me. I thought when he did That 70's Show, he kinda had that look, my look. Yeah, he would be one person for sure. I don't know about now, but when I had a lot of hair.
DM: The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. How important is it for you to get into the Hall Of Fame?
KC: I'm not sure. I have mixed emotions about that whole thing. I've really been told by them I have a flat chance in Hell of ever getting in there. You know, Donna Summer finally gets in there, but they do it after she dies, and probably the only reason is because she died. And, I think that sucks for a reason to put somebody in there. They deserve to be in there when they were alive, and hopefully they won't pull the same stunt with me. It's really kind of interesting when you go to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, it goes 50's, 60's, skips 70's ....well now Donna's in there so it doesn't really skip..... It doesn't really skip all of the 70's, but there's nothing from the dance era of the 70's, other than Donna Summer now. I know she's been nominated several times, which really kind of amazes me since we're the ones that really created the whole thing before she even existed, so it's very interesting. It's political like everything else in this music business. One of the things that I've always hated about this business that I so much love, was the politics.
DM: If the KC of today, could give the KC of 1976 some advice, what would it be?
KC: I don't know. I managed myself, and I did sort of a pretty good job of it. The only thing where I think I failed, and I didn't really fail in hindsight, I failed in what I thought I was doing right. I pushed the music. Sometimes people will associate me only if you tell them about the music. If I say KC & The Sunshine Band, sometimes they do go 'Huh?' And then you say "That's The Way (I Like It)," then they know. So, the only advice I would've given myself back then was to promote the name, equal to the music.
DM: Your last album of original material was Yummy back in 2007. Will we ever see another original studio album from KC & The Sunshine Band?
KC: I started doing an album a year and a half ago, it's turned into two albums now. It's seventeen, or eighteen, or nineteen original songs, and then seventeen classic songs from the 60's that I've re-done.
DM: Fantastic! Do you have a release date set for that?
KC: I have two more songs on the original album to mix, and then we'll start doing the 60's classics, so I don't know if I'll make it by November of this year, but hopefully by this year and the beginning of next year for sure. It's coming. It's called Feeling You.
DM: Tell me something that we don't know about KC.
KC: I don't know! I don't know what that would be, really.
DM: Does that disturb you, that we know everything? (laughs)
KC: (laughs) No, it comes with the territory. Like my manager says, the minute I step out my front door I belong to the public. I don't know. I'm just a normal human being like everybody else, pretty much.
DM: One thing we don't hear too much about is your family life. Married? Kids?
KC: No. Single, no kids. My sister had all the kids.
DM: Do you make a conscious effort to keep your personal life personal?
KC: Pretty much. I think it's my own business. I've given up everything else. I've gotta keep some things for myself.
DM: Are there any songs that you regret writing?
KC: Not at all. Do I wish I would've done some of them a little different? Possibly, but I don't regret writing any of them.
At the end of our conversation, I asked KC about the horrific car crash he was involved in 1982. He took the opportunity to reflect upon his sacrifice, his hard work, and how his talent has effected his life.
I've always had a very even keel life. I'm an aquarius, so I kind of flow with everything. Like a chameleon I can kind of change with any situation, pretty much. I was satisfied in the life I had before I was successful, so it just enlightened that whole thing. It made things somewhat easier for me. Whatever would've happened, I'm sure I would've been content with it in life. God just blessed me a little bit more. Not to say it wasn't through good hard work and sacrifice and talent. My talent definitely made my life a lot easier. Not to say that it's always been a bed of roses, but it certainly has made life sweet.
For more information about KC & The Sunshine Band, including a full tour itinerary, you can visit the official website at: www.heykcsb.com