Thirty years ago, The Go-Go’s released their classic album, Beauty and the Beat (recently reissued in an expanded edition). The album had the hits “We Got The Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed,” and became the first album by an all-female band to top the Billboard charts.
Though the group officially split in 1985, there have been various reunions since, and this year’s Ladies Gone Wild tour reaches Seattle on August 14 as part of the Zoo Tunes series (more info here). This is the first in a series of interviews with the band members, starting with guitarist Charlotte Caffey:
When you split in 1985, I’ll bet you didn’t think you’d still be doing shows all these years later.
No. That was a rough time. I don’t know if I was thinking into the future. I was just focusing on what was going on at that time. We weren’t working as a band; it was clearly a problem.
Did the passage of time make it easier to get back together?
Well, 1990 we reunited and then ever since then we’ve been pretty consistent with it. And yeah, over the passage of time we’ve all kind of grown up a little bit. And years later you hopefully aren’t harping on about anything back 30 years ago, because that would be really sad.
What’s kept the band going; what is it people like?
I think it’s the music. I think it really stands the test of time. When we play, we’re really real. And you get what you see. We don’t have a lot of frilly stuff on stage. I just saw Lady Gaga, and I love her. I was blown away. But we don’t have that, because that’s not who we are. People relate to us songwise. I think it really boils down to the song, whether it’s Lady Gaga, whether it’s the Go-Go’s, whether it’s whoever. The music’s gotta speak.
Why has Beauty and the Beat held up?
I think it’s the same thing. It comes from a really honest place, back when we were hanging out in the punk scene, just little punkettes, and just running around and starting the band. And we were just this little handful of kids that were totally expressing themselves, and there was no holds barred, there was no pressure, nothing. It was very very exciting. And I think that the record reflects something special because something special is going on in our lives. And that was that scene in Hollywood, which I am forever grateful for, because it really launched my career.
Tell me about Hollywood punk scene
It was really really exciting. I worked at a hospital during the day and I couldn’t wait to get out of there; I believed that I was not cut out for that kind of job. And I couldn’t wait to go and rehearse or play or whatever we were doing that evening. And it was a community of kids, and everyone knew each other. I was very inspired, I was in the mode of inspiration for that whole time, because all I did was write music and watch bands — the Ramones, Blondie, whoever came to town. And we came up with this crazy idea for the band, and then we moved from there.
At that time, you were the only one who had played in a band before.
When I first went to my first rehearsal, they really didn’t even know how to plug in their instruments. And I happened to have been in another band, so I was trying to be all kind of Well, you kind of do this… And not try to be all snotty but just kind of like trying to be helpful. It was very exciting and fun.
What made you decide to join the band?
Just the way Belinda [Carlisle] looked. I mean, come on, purple hair and a garbage bag? I was like Okay, this looks so freaky, yes, yes. And it just was like I was already on my way out of the Eyes [Caffey’s previous band]; that was kind of disintegrating for me. And then this came along right then and I just said Sure. And that’s as easy as it was.
Who thought of the name?
Jane [Wiedlin] and Belinda came up with it one night at Denny’s or something, I think. I didn’t like the name in the beginning. I was like Eeewww. It’s too cute. I mean I was really like [sigh]. And then I of course grew to like it.
It’s a pretty poppy name, and you were more punk
Well, yeah, ultimately we were always a rock band. But we had the punk influences and the pop influences all mushed together; that’s really what I think. Cause that’s how we really are as a rock band. And I’m not saying classic rock, I’m just saying, rock is a pretty broad term.
Part two here