By MIKE CHAIKEN
Harry Casey, a.k.a. K.C. of K.C. and the Sunshine Band, had been in a bit of a creative slumber… at least as far as the listening public had been concerned.
2007’s “Yummy” was the last album from K.C. and the Sunshine Band (who will be performing on the New Haven Green on July 27).
K.C., who was calling from Miami, said he was still writing music. But it was more about having something to do than something to record.
But a call in 2011 from Bimbo Jones, a DJ who has remixed tracks for the likes of Lady Gaga, eventually broke the creative logjam. And that breakthrough has led to a new studio album featuring all original material and a second album, in which he performs some well-known tracks from the 1960s.
K.C. said, he was introduced in 2011 to Bimbo, who is famous in Europe for his remix work. And Bimbo told K.C. that he was a huge fan of K.C. and the Sunshine Band, which gave the world such humongous hits as “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “Get Down Tonight,” and “I’m Your Boogie Man.”
Then Bimbo told K.C. that he had a musical track he wanted to send the singer for a possible collaboration.
The track was delivered to K.C. in May 2011.
“It was kind of sitting around,” said K.C. of Bimbo’s track. In December 2011, K.C. realized he never got around to doing anything with Bimbo’s contribution so he gave it a listen. “I loved it.”
K.C. then sat down to send an email to Bimbo to apologize for not getting back to him. K.C. knew Bimbo was coming to Miami in March 2012 for a huge music conference for disc jockeys and suggested the two of them sit down and talk to figure out where to go from there.
That conversation didn’t prove to be necessary.
K.C. said he listened to the track again. Something then struck him.
“Next thing I knew, the melody, words, and title came to my mind,” said K.C. He said he was finished writing the song within 35 to 40 minutes. Two days later, he said, he was in the studio laying down the tracks.
The result was “I Can’t Get You Out of Mind,” the first new song from K.C. since 2007.
That opened the door to even more new music. Bimbo sent K.C. a couple of more tracks to work with. And K.C. went to work.
“It woke me up out of my artistic coma,” said K.C.
Once K.C. started writing in earnest again, he didn’t stop. He ended up recording 17 original songs. Plus, he recorded another 17 cover songs by artists from the 1960s. The result was a 34-cut double CD. K.C. said the goal is to get the resulting album in the hands of the public by September/October.
Originally, K.C. said the plan was to release the album in April. But, he said, “This is my first album in a long time. It’s important everything is the best I can do and I give it the best I can.’
Of the original tracks, K.C. said six of them are a result of his collaborations with Bimbo Jones. Other tracks were written with band members and some he wrote by himself.
K.C. said the tracks are dance tracks, funky sounds, and one is even a straight out rock and roller. “It’s a little bit of everything,” said K.C., “but mostly it’s a dance record.”
Of the 1960s cover tracks, K.C. said, “It’s a little bit of everything. It was very hard to narrow it to 17 songs.” He said the temptation was to just pick his favorite tracks. But, instead, what he tried to do was pick tracks that reflected the emotions of his life in the here and now as well as what was going through his heart and head over the past 62 years of his life. The tracks include songs from Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Smokey Robinson, the Allman Brothers, The Kinks, and Aaron Neville. Along the way, he said he tried to play around with the arrangements to make the songs his own.
“It’s been fun.”
The introductory track for K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s reemergence on the music scene is “I Can’t Get You Out of My Head” is a cutting edge dance track. It doesn’t sound out of place next to such hot EDM artists as David Guetta, Calvin Harris, and Swedish House Mafia.
In that sense, K.C. is continuing a tradition he started when K.C. and the Sunshine band hit the airwaves in the early 1970s. There was no one else who sounded like the band at the time.
“I was ahead of the wave and never joined the wave… and I tried to ahead of the wave,” said K.C. of the band’s artistic ambitions. “Why mimic someone else?”
Even though K.C. and the Sunshine Band were big in the discos of the 1970s, K.C. said he never really became part of that scene. And by the time, disco music was hitting its peak, K.C. said the group was moving in a different direction, which resulted in the big hit ballad, “Please Don’t Go.”
These days, K.C. said the industry is “crazy.” And things have changed. Every remix disc jockey has his/ her own style, and each club has its own style. That’s why he has released six different mixes of “I Can’t Get You Out of My Head.”
The music industry is no longer dominated by the major labels. Indie labels are everywhere. But K.C. said he started off on an indie label, so the situation is no different for him. The one time he joined a major label was “a disaster.”
When K.C. and the Sunshine Band hits the stage on the green in New Haven, K.C. said he probably won’t delve into the new tracks in the live setting.
“I try to keep the show pretty much fun for the audience,” said K.C. So he will focus on the hits.
That said, K.C. said he is considering whether or not he might sprinkle in some of the 1960s tracks he has covered for the new album, since many audience members will be familiar with those.
But, K.C. said, “The public is going to dictate what’s in the show.”
K.C. and the Sunshine Band take the stage on the New Haven Green on Saturday, July 27 at 7 p.m. For more information, go to HeyKCSB.com or infoNEWHAVEN.com
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.
By MIKE CHAIKEN