They Got the Beat
In the early Eighties, the Go-Go's were considered the quintessential California girls, mainly thanks to sunny New Wave songs such as "Vacation" and "We Got the Beat." But times are (somewhat) different now for the quintet, comprising vocalist Belinda Carlisle, guitarist Charlotte Caffey, bassist Kathy Valentine, drummer Gina Schock, and guitarist Jane Wiedlin, who now lives in Madison, Wisconsin. (A native of the state, she moved back after a summer visit during which she "made a bunch of friends, met a man, [and] fell in love.") Although she's busy producing other bands and working on solo material, she and the rest of the Go-Go's are on a short tour, spurred by an invitation to the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans. New Times recently spoke with Wiedlin about the band and her other projects.
New Times: What's the typical Go-Go's fan at a show these days?
Jane Wiedlin: It's a little hard to say, but what we do see a lot is couples in their forties bringing their daughters. That's kind of our favorite thing, when we see young girls getting into our music. We're still kind of the anomaly when it comes to women performers, because we play instruments. I think it's a very positive thing for the kids to see us doing that.
If you guys had formed now, how do you think things would have been different?
Back then the music business and the world was pretty openly sexist, and it wasn't considered offensive or anything. Now things are more politically correct, and I think people wouldn't actually have the nerve to say the kind of things they said to us, like, "Oh, an all-girl band could never be successful," or "An all-girl band could never rock." People would just say those things out loud. Today I don't think anyone would have the nerve to say it. But I can't help but wonder if people still don't think that.
They'd get beaten down on blogs and message boards, I think.
You met an animator from The Simpsons last year and you guys are going to collaborate on a comic. Is that still happening?
Oh yeah, we've been working on it like crazy. We have this story written now, and he's finishing his changes on my character design — which is part foxy rock star, part robot [laughs]. It's called Lady Robotica. It's really great, because it combines my love of several things, like music and science fiction and robots and being creative. It's pretty awesome; I can't wait for it to come out.
That's pretty bad-ass. What's the plot line?
I don't want to give it all away, but I end up on another planet and become a superhero [laughs]. That's the vague plot line. For more details, you'll just have to get the comic.
I saw you just did some celebrity bowling — and since you're from Wisconsin, you might have some experience. How good a bowler are you?
Oh, I'm a terrible, terrible bowler.
I never break three digits, put it that way [laughs]. But I'm very enthusiastic, so that should count for something.
Do you do the granny roll?
The one that I do — I don't know what they call it — is when you run up and you throw the ball and it hits the floor so hard it sounds like the wood is going to break? I'm just really bad at it.
You've done so much acting, producing, and songwriting. What brings you the most excitement and joy?
Oh, boy. I don't do it enough, but when I'm songwriting, I feel on top of the world. I love writing music; it just feels so good. It always feels really magical when you create a new song.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.