Part 2 of our Charlotte Caffey interview, guitarist with the Go-Go’s. The Go-Go’s play Woodland Park Zoo on August 14 as part of the Zoo Tunes series.
What obstacles did the band in the early years?
Obstacles in my mind were people in the band were getting anxious because they wanted to get signed. Maybe one of them might say “I want to quit, I don’t want to do this anymore.” I was the one always saying “No, no, no, let’s keep going, don’t quit. Let’s just go until December and see what happens.” It was frustration, because we’d see all these other bands like getting signed; there was a whole article in the LA Times about us not getting signed, even though we were selling out every show we played. So that was an obstacle. An obstacle was we all had jobs, but we were trying to make our living on our art, and that was an obstacle. Just being a band is an obstacle in itself because you have a lot of stuff that goes on, drama and stuff. There also weren’t many all female rock bands around. Well, that was an obstacle getting signed for sure, because they basically said “No, we can’t sign you because you’re an all girl band.” Literally said that. And it was like, really! I mean, that was the ultimate obstacle. And even when we started to be on the radio, interestingly enough, they would have one slot for the girl rocker or the girl person; there’d be one spot and they’d be “Okay, we’re already playing this, we can’t play that.” It was really cuckoo in the very beginning. And then of course by the time that “We Got The Beat” rose to the top of the charts, there was Joan Jett with “I Love Rock n Roll,” The Pretenders — it was a Top 10 that had three or four women in it which was really great. But the obstacles in the beginning to definitely getting signed.
Was your first tour to England in 1980 a big break for you?
Well, it was a definite break out of LA. And it was certainly a really humongous undertaking; now I understand how much our manager Ginger, how much stress she must’ve been under to undertaken that whole thing. And we all sold things we had, gave up our jobs, to go try this out. And yes, I think it was a big break. And we also able to report back home to Rodney [Bingenheimer, then DJ of the program Rodney On The Roq]. We would call him every Sunday; “Oh, we’re doing really well!” We were in retrospect, when you look back on it. But in the middle of it, it was like we were starving, we didn’t have any money, all the ska bands were spitting on us cause they didn’t like us. We were just a little punk group, they didn’t want to see us. But it made a big impression. And it was a really bold thing to do at that time.
What kept you going until you got signed?
We were constantly working. And we were of one mind. One focus. It was such a great testament to positive thinking and manifestation and all of that stuff. Because we didn’t know it at the time, but that’s what we were doing. We were completely creating, and by our energy bringing all these people to us, like Miles [Copeland, who signed the band to IRS], who were ultimately going to help us on our way.
How did you write “We Got The Beat” in 1980?
In five minutes. Literally. I mean, it was just one of those songs. It came to me and I pulled out a tape recorder — I have the tape somewhere down in my basement somewhere — I started playing, and as I did, it popped in my head, the whole thing just like I channelled something, it was just like pfft! Came out. And then I brought it to the girls shortly thereafter and we started rehearsing it.
What’s different about the Go-Go’s compared to your other bands?
The Go-Go’s stand out to me because of the chemistry involved. It’s an undeniable thing when we get on stage. And I’ve never really experienced that with any other group of people. I’ve experienced to a point, but this is a very natural thing, to be together and to play these songs.
Part one here