Kate Pierson Revels in Ghosts and Ghoulishness on “Every Day is Halloween”—“It Seemed Like the Time was Right”

Halloween might conjure up thoughts of spooky or even sinister music—but with her new solo song, “Every Day Is Halloween,” B-52s singer Kate Pierson proves that this holiday’s music can be exuberant and catchy instead. The track was released on October 13 as a standalone single. “It was always in my head as a song title because it felt very personal to me, being an ‘every day is Halloween’ kind of gal,” Pierson says, calling from her home in Woodstock, New York.

Videos by American Songwriter

The song’s lyrics are about a woman who revels in becoming a ghost. “I think of this as a happy kind of song because this woman gets to reveal all these secrets, finally, as a ghost—and she’s seen, and not just ignored. When you’re a ghost, people pay attention!” Pierson tells American Songwriter with a laugh.

Pierson co-wrote the track with acclaimed singer-songwriter Sia and writer/producer Sam Dixon (who’s worked with Kylie Minogue and Adele, among others). “I just had that title in mind, and I had some lyrics, so we just started jamming—and immediately Sia was like, ‘OK, I have a chorus idea,’” Pierson says. “Then she retrofitted a lot of my lyrics to it, and we worked together on that. But it was very quick: we did the demo in a few hours. It was a real big change for me, and a revelation—I learned a lot, working with her, to pick the best thing out and not linger and second guess myself.”

Every Day Is Halloween” was the first thing the trio wrote together as they worked on Pierson’s first solo album, Guitars and Microphones, which was released in 2015, but they didn’t include this song on that album. As for why she waited this long to actually release it, Pierson says, “I’m not really sure why I did that, because to me, it’s one of the best songs. But maybe I was just waiting for this Halloween to come about —it seemed like the time was right.”

She also notes that there were a few other songs that she wrote during the Guitars and Microphones sessions that she’ll include on her forthcoming second solo album. She believes this next release will be titled Radios and Rainbows, named after one of the songs she co-wrote with producer/songwriter Chris Braide (who’s worked with Sia, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, Lana del Rey, and many others). Braide worked with her on a few other tracks, as well.

“With my solo work, I wanted to do something much more personal, much more introspective, autobiographical, [about] feelings, so some of this [forthcoming] album is very personal,” Pierson says, “and then I have a few party tracks. So it’s more eclectic, I think because I worked with different producers and different writers. Each person that I collaborated with, because they were the instrumentalists, they were also the producer of the track.”

Pierson actually had everything written for this new album before the COVID pandemic hit, but that situation prompted her to hold off on doing anything further until things had gotten better in the world.

“It’s finished, except for one song I’m finishing up, and all I need to do is get it mastered, and then figure out how I’m actually going to be putting this out,” she says. “I don’t have a record label yet, but I’ll be looking.” So for now, the album’s release date is still undetermined.

As she prepares for this album’s release, Pierson is staying busy with the B-52s, who have been on an extended farewell tour since the COVID pandemic eased, including a string of Las Vegas residency shows set for next spring. By the time they play their final show, the band will have lasted nearly fifty years.  

Pierson says she always knew she was destined to have this career. “I always sang, even when I was really little. I would stick my head out the window and sing my lungs out and think, ‘No one can hear me!’” She laughs at the memory. “I would be just singing whatever, making up stuff like kids do. So I always knew I wanted to be a singer.”

She came by this musical inclination naturally: “My father was a guitar player. He always played guitar at home, even though he wasn’t a professional. My grandmother played the piano and sang.”

Growing up in New Jersey, she joined a band when she was in high school. They wrote protest songs, inspired by the folk-rock movement. “I was always sitting at my desk in school writing lyrics and thinking up songs,” she says.

After graduation, though, she put her musical ambitions on hold and headed down to Athens, Georgia. “I just moved there because I wanted to do the back-to-the-land thing,” she says, referring to the movement that inspired followers to grow their own food and live a more self-sustaining lifestyle. “My friends were going there, and it was just like, ‘OK, come on, let’s go.’” 

Athens in the mid-1970s was certainly not the music mecca it is now, however. “Nothing was happening in Athens. There were really no clubs.” She admits that she wasn’t working very hard to jump-start her music career at that point, anyway.

She befriended Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland, and siblings Cindy Wilson and Ricky Wilson. Though they all sang and/or played instruments, “We didn’t ever say, ‘Hey, let’s form a band,’” Pierson says.

That changed one night when they went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant in downtown Athens, where they shared a giant novelty “flaming volcano” cocktail, then started jamming at a friend’s house. From there, Pierson says, the B-52s “just magically happened.”

The band members blended their love for dance music with punk’s energy and the then-emerging New Wave genre, then threw in a large dose of campy humor. The result was an utterly original and fun-loving sound. “We were different, unique. There’s still no band that sounds like us. So it really caught people’s ear,” Pierson says.

“The B-52s write collectively on almost all the songs, with some exceptions. But for the most part, we jam and pick out parts,” Pierson says. She explains their usual process: “We would first put it on cassette tape, then we would make an edit to that cassette tape, then learn the parts and string it together like a collage. We’d just be wailing and not even hear each other, necessarily, but it all made sense in the end. It was a fun and crazy and do-it-yourself kind of feeling. Emerging from that kind of scene, it was very freeing, creatively.”

They helped create the music scene in Athens that, starting in the 1980s, became internationally famous. The B-52s remain one of the most influential and popular bands from that town thanks to singles such as “Rock Lobster,” “Planet Claire,” “Private Idaho,” “Roam,” and “Love Shack.” (Another Athens band, R.E.M., would also find massive fame—and they invited Pierson to appear as a guest vocalist on some of their songs, including the 1991 hit single “Shiny Happy People.”) 

Whether she’s creating a song with the B-52s or as a solo artist, Pierson says, “It’s always an adventure because there’s always an unknown quality. If you try to make something—‘I’m making this song about this’—it just never turns out that way, at least for me. It’s just, something pops up and it’s like, ‘Whoa, this song is taking me down some side tributary.’”

In order to allow inspiration to strike, she says, “You have to be receptive to things you hear. Like, I’m not deliberately listening to people for lyrics, but sometimes something will catch my ear. I don’t look through books for inspiration, although I am an avid reader. But I think most things [you write] just come as a distillation of all that stuff that you read and hear. I think it’s a very magical process. It’s so satisfying, and so thrilling when you finally have a song completed.”

As she nears her fifth decade as a successful songwriter and performer, Pierson has some advice for anyone aspiring to have an equally lengthy and prolific career: “Write from your heart. Be original—I think that’s just very, very important. So much sounds imitative and derivative, and I think being original is so important if you want to make some kind of mark. And just be yourself.”

Photo by Josef Jasson

Leave a Reply

Harry Styles Albums Ranked

Director Peter Jackson Reveals Details About The Beatles’ “Now and Then” Video, Premiering Friday