By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
In the early '80s, the Go-Go's were considered the quintessential California girls, thanks mainly to sunny new-wave songs such as "Vacation" and "We Got the Beat." But times are (somewhat) different now for the quintet: vocalist Belinda Carlisle, guitarist Charlotte Caffey, bassist Kathy Valentine, drummer Gina Schock—and especially guitarist Jane Wiedlin, who now lives in Madison, Wisconsin. (A native of the state, she moved back after a summer visit in which she "made a bunch of friends, met a man [and] fell in love"). Although she's keeping busy producing other bands and working on solo material, she and the rest of the Go-Go's are currently on a short tour, spurred on by an invite to the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans.
What's the typical Go-Go's fan at a show these days?
Wiedlin: It's a little hard to say, but what we do see a lot is couples in their 40s 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.
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.
What's the plotline?
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 plotline. For more details, you'll just have to get the comic.
I saw that you just did some celebrity bowling—and since you're from Wisconsin, you might have some experience. How good of 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 magic when you create a new song.