"Do you remember?" goes the beginning of Earth, Wind & Fire's classic song, September.
The veteran soul-funk group, who have sold more than 90 million albums worldwide, sure hope you do as the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers prepare to release their first album in eight years, Now, Then & Forever, on Tuesday.
Longtime percussionist Ralph Johnson, founding bassist Verdine White and founding lead singer Philip Bailey, all 62 years old, say the new record finds the influential band - formed in Chicago in 1969 - going back to their early sound.
"It was produced by Philip Bailey and company," says White. "And it was a two year process. We had recorded several songs previously but on a trip overseas Philip sat and listened to everything we've ever done. And he came back and said, 'Listen we've got to do a record like this.'"
Adds Bailey: "We enlisted Neal Poe (of OutKast production fame), (original E, W & F keyboardist/musical director) Larry Dunn and my son Phil as other producers and we really just began to focus on doing a record that sounded classically like Earth, Wind and Fire."
We caught up with the trio earlier this year.
Q. When you said you 'found" songs, did some of the new tunes come from long ago?
Bailey: They're all new songs. But when I say we went back, we basically had to rediscover who we were, who we are and who we've always been. ... And I think that's what we had to do.
Q. What do you think accounts for Earth, Wind and Fire's longevity?
Bailey: The music itself has been the soundtrack of many people's lives. The music actually comes back and speaks to us, even as being the creators of the music. And then the fans, they continue to love what we do, and we enjoy doing what we're doing and we've just been extremely blessed. Our message and our music has always been the same one of love and respect for humanity and mankind and uplifting the consciousness of folk in that way and I think it's a feel-good music.
Q. Do you have younger musicians come up and say what an influence you have been on them?
Bailey: We do feel a sense of knowledge about the influence that we've had on younger musicians. We've got several of them playing with us now. In fact, my son (Philip) is in the band, he graduated from Berklee College Of Music. But we run into accomplished musicians all over the world, that are a lot younger than us, and they credit a lot of what we've done to being their inspiration.
Q. What are the audiences like in 2013 compared to your '70s heyday?
White: We have a really a multitude of generations because what's happening now is the parents are telling their children, their children are telling their children, about the show.
Johnson: Part of the reason that people come to our concerts is that they want to escape and they want to be taken to a different place for just an hour and a half. When people leave our concerts they are really, really feeling good.
Q. After more than four decades as a group, how do you keep your stamina up for touring?
Johnson: I think everyone does it in their own way. We actually are starting to put together the off days so that we actually have a real off day. 'Cause a lot of off days are travelling days and we're getting too old for that.
Q. Do you guys seen an end in sight?
White: I think you go as long as you can go, as long as you stay healthy.
Bailey: It's a pleasure being in an organization where you kind of living what you're singing. It's a good energy.