Evergreen disco pioneers the Village People have had something of a reboot in recent times: they’ve drafted in a brand new member, with Jim Newman taking over the cowboy role in the group. And they’re releasing their first new single worldwide in more than 25 years, the modern-disco groove of Let’s Go Back to the Dance Floor. We caught up with the group’s resident Native American, Felipe Rose, ahead of their one-off Australian show at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on October 12.
How would you describe the Village People live show to someone who hasn’t seen you guys before?
It’s a sneak peak of what it was like in the ‘70s – a simulated feeling of what the energy and excitement and night of endless dancing. And lots of disco hits!
You’ll have a fresh face in the form of a brand new cowboy joining the Village People soon – how did you find him?
I’ve known about Mr. Newman for six months now, and when it was revealed that Jeff Olson was handing up his cowboy hat and spurs I sought him out through industry contacts, knowing full well of his tremendous reputation and good looks.
What’s the initiation like for a new Village People member – what advice will you be giving Jim as he joins the band?
We get them drunk, tar and feather them and they wake up with a dollar in their hand… In all seriousness, what is expected is that he be engaging with your audience and team players, and be professional on the road.
You’ve got a new single out now, written by KC from KC & the Sunshine Band. What prompted you guys to release a new song now?
The timing is perfect to ‘go back on the dance floor’. While performing together with KC at a Special Needs fundraiser, we noticed KC was singing and humming a little ditty. We added harmonies. He asked: Do you like it? I said “Yes, I like it. If you write it, we’ll sing it.”
The Village People’s biggest hits still show up so often in pop culture – where’s the weirdest place you’ve heard a Village People song?
In a business class lounge in an airport with a five-year-old singing YMCA.
Is there still a rush to singing songs like YMCA and In the Navy, all these years later?
Of course! It still takes us around the world to this very day.
You’ve had a loyal gay fanbase since the very beginning – do you have a message for your gay fans in Australia?
We’re very happy that the LGBT community is attaining mainstream acceptance throughout the world and we will continue to support and embrace you. Now buy the damn single!
INFO: Village People with Glenn Leonard’s Temptations and the former ladies of The Supremes, Enmore Theatre, October 12. Tickets through Ticketek. The Village People will also perform on the Cruise N Groove cruise ship on their way to Australia: cruisengroove.com.au