Concert Spotlight: Interview With The Go-Go’s

They got the heat at SummerStage

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 1.01.56 PMThey are one of the most successful all-female acts of all time, but what’s special about 80s darlings The Go-Go’s is that all members played instruments and were involved in the songwriting during the height of the punk and new wave explosions. The foursome play New York one last time, gracing Central Park SummerStage August 13 for their “Farewell Tour”.

Forming in the late 70s, the remaining members Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitar, vocals), Charlotte Caffey (lead guitar, keyboards) and Gina Schock (drums), decided it was time to close a chapter on the stage. It was the 1981 debut album Beauty and the Beat, with hits like “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got The Beat”, that catapulted the girls to a #1 album which reached triple platinum status and led them to sell more than 7 million albums throughout their career.

The cotton candy hair-hued Jane Wiedlin spoke with NYC Monthly about a new incarnation for The Go-Go’s songs in the form of a stage musical, her days roaming the NYC streets partying in the 80s with her bandmates and the reason it’s so difficult to get them all on the phone together…

Jane, so it looks like The Go-Go’s aren’t taking a “Vacation” quite yet, after 38 years together as a band, this summer is the Final Tour. Why now, why 2016?

I’m super excited to be playing New York City. We’ve been a band since 1978, so it’s 38 years. I think it was just time to let it go and move on to other stuff. Belinda brought it up a couple years ago, she said she thought we should talk about winding down the band and we said “Nooo!” but she’s right, we can’t do it forever. I think we have all come to terms with looking forward to what’s coming next with our lives. And we’re not breaking up, we’re just not going to be touring anymore.

We are workshopping The Go-Go’s musical Head Over Heels in New York City, so that’s the next step [in] 2017. We have Jeff Whitty who wrote the book, it’s a great story, really funny and touching, the music is really wonderful ’cause it’s Go-Go’s music, we signed director Michael Mayer who did the American Idiot show, who’s good at fusing rock and roll with theater.

What is different about you and your foursome now and what hasn’t changed that would be interesting for fans and music lovers to know?

Everyone is scattered all over the place geographically and obviously back in the day we
all lived in Los Angeles together. Charlotte’s still in LA, Regina is in San Francisco, Belinda was in France but is moving to Bangkok and I’m in Hawaii. It makes it so challenging to even have phone calls together, ’cause there are 12-hour differences from where Belinda is and where I am.

One thing that has stayed the same and has been consistent throughout our 38 years together is there is a really crazy energy that can be used for good or for evil. It’s a four-headed monster. I think it’s what makes our music good and our shows exciting.

You wrote many of the songs for the band, which forever has a sound that was celebrated in New York City during the 80s. What was special about being The Go-Go’s at that time and what are some of your best memories of NYC?

The most exciting place to go to was always New York City. In the early 80s it was so much fun – there were so many clubs, so many kids, the fashion was amazing, we actually recorded our first record in New York City and we would record and record and then go out all night and then record some more. It was so vibrant at that time. Danceteria, Peppermint Lounge, CBGBs, Area – they had art installations, New York was amazing. It was a little scary too which is what made it amazing, little punk rock girls from Hollywood running around at four in the morning in bad neighborhoods. We were like a gang and we stuck together, chased a lot of boys.

You’re playing Central Park, the largest space in NYC to hold a concert. As you anticipate this historic date, what runs through your mind?

Well the first answer that comes up is nostalgia because we did a live filmed concert in Central Park a while ago. I want to say it wasn’t even in this millennium, and that was such a great show and it got captured on film, and now coming full circle playing Central Park again and having it be our last show ever in New York City, it’s nice, I feel like we’re drawing it to a close in a nice package. I hope the people that come just have a good time ’cause The Go-Go’s always bring a party.

Music of The Go-Go’s clearly influenced a roster of musicians over the years – it’s hard to imagine a world with Gwen Stefani, Pink, Katy Perry, HAIM and many more if it wasn’t for you all. Who is currently impressing you these days?

I think all those people you mentioned have got it right. And I also believe there are guy bands that were influenced by us. Both Kurt Cobain and Billie Joe Armstrong said they were influenced by The Go-Go’s.

I am going to say the band I love the most that sounds like The Go-Go’s, is the Canadian band Metric.

You’re one of the most successful female bands of all time. What are you most proud about as The Go-Go’s go out with a bang one final time?

I think I can speak for the band cause we have talked about this. It’s just the fact that we are all still alive and healthy and still making music in 2016 when many of our contemporaries are not is something we are tremendously proud of. 38 years in the music business is huge and almost nobody gets to have that kind of career. I feel incredibly grateful and fortunate to be a part of this band.