Grammy award-winning KC and the Sunshine Band to play UB tailgate series

’70s Funk legends will perform outside UB Stadium on Oct. 3

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KC and the Sunshine Band will kickoff the football team’s tailgate on Saturday, as the third show of the Tailgate Concert Series.

The Grammy and American Music Award-winning band has toured for more than 50 years and is known for their massively popular songs such as “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “Get Down Tonight,” and “Shake Your Booty.”

The band took a hiatus from 1985 to1993, but has been touring ever since. Recently, the band released a single “I Love You More,” which was the bands first single to break the Billboard Top-30 since the release of “Get Down Tonight.”

Harry Wayne “K.C.” Casey, the founding member KC and the Sunshine Band, talked with The Spectrum about the ups and downs of life as a artist and his own every-growing legacy as a musician.

The Spectrum: What is your main reason sticking in the music industry?

Harry Wayne “KC” Casey: I’ve been in this business almost 45 years. I retired from ’84 to ’93. With the advance of technology and different things it’s made it easier to tour and do the show. I basically do weekends the whole year. I don’t really go out for 60 or 90 day type of situations. I just get to do Friday, Saturday and Sundays and then I’m home Monday through Thursday. It’s fun. I was on drugs until ’95 so its nice to be out there and, wow, I can remember the place now.

TS: Why did you get the band back together in ’93?

KC: I love what I do. In ’84 I walked away from it all. I never wanted to have anything to do with it ever again. None of it, I didn’t want to tour, I didn’t want to do anything. I just wanted to fade away in oblivion and that was it. Arsenial Hall, he’s like a Johnny Carson type show in the 90s and he was really popular – one night he announced on his show that he would like to see a reunion of our band and a friend of mine told me about it. I went and I did a TV show and thought this is what I always loved to do. It rekindled a fire in me and I’ve been at it ever since. One of my friends was James Brown and he always was on my case about not working. I just got to thinking that when my father died in ’84 I kind of just gave up on life and everything else. My father always said to not give up and I gave up. It was time to get back out and do what I always loved doing.

TS: “I Love You More” is your first Billboard hit in 40 years, how does it feel to make music again?

KC: It’s really exciting. About three years ago in 2012, on the eve of my actual 40th year in the business, I just, all of a sudden, got the creative juices flowing in me like I was 20 or 21 years old, its hard to explain. And all this stuff just started coming out of all that. I have two albums sitting in the can right now of original material and I have a Christmas album coming out this year. It’s been really exciting and interesting that it’s taking on the same way it happened to me in the beginning. My first single that came out in 1973, it got on the chart. And now this one is making a little noise. It’s interesting how it’s replicating my whole career 40 years ago, 40 years later.

TS: How would you say your experience makes you different from other artists?

KC: I think we all as artists come from the same things. I don’t know how to answer that. I guess I’d say what makes us all different as artists is the music we surround ourselves with growing up and what really influences us – what we navigate toward. I grew up in a very R&B, gospel type household. I’ve always liked all kinds music so I did like some rock, but I was more into R&B than rock. Some of my colleagues are more rock or country. I just did what came naturally to me.

TS: How would you say the music culture is different than when you started as a band?

KC: Musicians of today have a greater advantage of getting their product out there. They have YouTube. They have all this social media stuff they can take advantage of. They have iTunes and Spotify – all this stuff at their fingertips they can put their music out there for people to listen to. They don’t have to wait and hope some genius A&R person at a record company is going to decide whether their music is going to be heard by the masses or not. Look at the doors it opened for Justin Beiber. Justin Beiber wouldn’t have stood a chance in hell probably if he didn’t have YouTube. I just think with the advent of all of that, technology and social media, it just allows your music to be heard by more people without having somebody decide who is going to listen to what music. When I was growing up there was people that decided whether your record would be released or put out at all and your were stuck there like, well that’s never going to happen.

TS: How do you keep shows exciting – how do you put yourself into every show?

KC:The audience dictates that most of the time. I have an amazing band – they are just incredible. The songs speak for themselves. It’s fun. I love the energy of it and I love energy of the audience. And every night there is a different audience, a different energy. It makes it fresh and challenging sometimes. The whole idea is just to have a good time. I wrote the music to bring happiness into people’s lives.

TS: What are you most proud of?

KC: Of course, getting a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame is an amazing thing. Grammy awards, all those sort of things are all great and all that. I think just being able to do something I love. That’s the greatest reward of it all. So many times people settle for second best and don’t end up doing something they love. Like someone will study journalism and then get a job that has nothing to do with journalism and then they’re not happy. Don’t do that to yourself, you know what I mean?

Brian Windschitl is the senior arts editor and can be reached at brian.windschitl@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @_brnwnd.