The beat goes on for the Go-Go's
It has been more than 25 years since their all-female California power-pop sound first buzzed through the charts, but the Go-Go's are still proving that beauty and the beat can be eternal.
Jane Wiedlin, who co-founded the band with singer Belinda Carlisle in the late '70s, says that these days, tours are less rowdy, but the "girls" -- her word -- still wanna have fun. (The Go-Go's play St. Petersburg's Jannus Landing on Thursday, Feb. 7.)
"In the early '80s we once toured for nearly two years straight, and now we never do more than about two weeks," Wiedlin said in a recent interview with Stuck in the 80s. "And since most of the girls have put their partying days behind them, it's a lot more sedate in the dressing room. We still manage to have a good time though!"
Between 1981 and 1984, the Go-Go's were one the hottest bands on radio and MTV, with hits like "Our Lips Are Sealed," "We Got The Beat" and "Vacation" winning over legions of fans.
But Wiedlin left the band in '84 for solo career in music and acting (she was "Joan of Arc" in 1989's "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure."), and the band dissolved in '85. But 15 years later, the girls were together again and hit the recording studio in 2001, producing the disc "God Bless the Go-Go's."
In our e-mail conversation, Wiedlin revisited the band's history, her foray into acting and the future of the "girls."
Back in the early 80s, did you have a problem with male groupies? What do your fans look like today?
"To be honest, we didn't get a lot of groupies in the old days, and we certainly don't get a lot of groupies these days!"
"We get a real kick when our longtime fans bring their kids to our concerts. I think Radio Disney plays us a lot, so there is a whole new generation of music lovers that are discovering our music. It's nice to show young girls that chicks can rock! And PLAY INSTRUMENTS!"
You co-wrote "Our Lips Are Sealed" with Terry Hall -- a great tune where we get to hear you softly sing "Hush my darling..." during that one memorable verse. What can you tell me about the creation of that song?
"In 1980, the Specials (Terry's band before Fun Boy Three) came to see us play in Hollywood and invited us to tour with them in England, where I embarked upon a short but dramatic romance with Terry. Later he sent me some lyrics inspired by our relationship, and 'Our Lips Are Sealed' came out of that. So many people have done versions of that song. Of course I am very proud and pleased to have written it. All of our hits are a blast to play live because the crowd always goes crazy for them!"
You were the first Go-Go to leave the band for a solo career. Any regrets?
"It was fun but scary to make music without the band. In retrospect, I'm not so thrilled with a lot of what I did, but I was on my own for the first time and it was a big change for me. I don't have many regrets. Certainly I love my life where it is right now, and so i don't think I'd change the past, because it might affect the present."
"I decided to pursue acting when I went solo and my new manager helped me procure an agent and a few parts. It turned out to be much harder than it looks, and as much as I enjoyed those experiences (being a Trekhead, I was THRILLED to meet Leonard Nimoy!), I don't think I'm very good at it."
" 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure' becoming a hit was a HUGE surprise for me, and -- I think -- for everyone that worked on it. It just seemed like this small silly movie, and in fact sat on a shelf for several years before being released."
What's next for the Go-Go's and for you?
"We have no set plans at the moment, and every year it seems to get a little more complicated trying to get together to do stuff. We are now living in FIVE different places, which makes it a real challenge to get together. Still, we love to make music, so anything could happen."
-- The Go-Go's, 8 p.m., Jannus Landing, Thursday (Feb. 7), show starts at 8 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets: $27.50 in advance; $31 day of show.