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NIGHT LIFE THE CLUB SCENE : Go-Going Again : The famous L.A. girl group is back together after five years and will perform at the Ventura Theatre Monday.

December 06, 1990|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

OK, guys, imagine your dream job. Christina Applegate's houseboy? Twinkie taster? Quality control officer at a brewery? Groupie screener at the backdoor at Bon Jovi concerts? Watching TV and getting paid for it? Or how about being Jack Pinson, the tour manager for the Go-Go's, perhaps the cutest group of all time. That's not sexist, that's reality.

The early '60s pop charts were dominated by so-called girl groups such as the Ronettes, the Crystals, the Supremes and the Chiffons. But these groups were basically singers who didn't play instruments and who sang other people's songs.

When the Go-Go's burst upon the L.A. music scene in the early '80s, they were the first all-female group that not only wrote but played and performed its own material. The Go-Go's paved the way for other performing girl groups such as the Bangles, the Pandoras and the Screaming Sirens. The band's 1981 debut album, "Beauty And The Beat," sold zillions of copies, and it seemed every other video on MTV for the first year or so was "We Got The Beat."

The Go-Go's survived for five years, releasing three albums and touring incessantly before falling prey in 1985 to the No. 1 killer of rock 'n' roll bands--the dreaded "creative differences." The members went their separate ways with all five becoming involved in solo projects. Lead singer Belinda Carlisle and rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin each released several solo albums over the last five years.

Last March in Los Angeles, the band got back together for the first time in five years to do a benefit concert. The chemistry was right, and now the Go-Go's are back on the road with all five original members--Carlisle, Wiedlin, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine and Charlotte Caffey. The tour coincides with I.R.S. Records' release of a greatest-hits record. Power pop rockers Redd Kross will open for the Go-Go's when they play the Ventura Theatre on Monday.

In a recent phone interview, lead guitarist Charlotte Caffey discussed the life and new times of the Go-Go's:

How is the tour?

We're having a great time. It's almost as if we never left; the crowds have been just incredible. We've been playing to three to six thousand people per show, and sometimes we've played smaller venues.

Why did the band break up and then get back together?

Well, when we broke up we didn't like each other anymore, but now we do. I don't want to be part of a band unless it's fun. It's really fun now. Actually, we all got together and had dinner a year or so ago, and Belinda's and my manager, Danny Goldberg, suggested that we do this Environmental Protection Initiative benefit at the Universal Amphitheatre in L.A. It felt really good again, and here we are.

How did the Go-Go's get it going originally?

Well, we were all hanging around the L.A. scene back in 1978--and it was really a scene then. There were like these 150 friends that went to concerts all the time. Anyway, we started playing and got signed. Jane came up with the name.

What's the best and worst thing about the music business?

The best thing is the camaraderie. The five of us have something--a chemistry, I guess, when we're on stage. The worst thing about the music business is the business part of it. Business has nothing whatever to do with writing, playing and performing.

These male rock gods with the foofoo haircuts always have herds of groupies seeking to get up close and personal. Is it the same for your band?

Oh, yes, the boys hang out.

The Go-Go's paved the way for other women in rock. Explain.

We were the first all-girl band that wrote and played our own stuff. You know, the odds were really against us because rock has traditionally been dominated by men. Anyway, somehow we opened the doors for not only ourselves but other women in rock.

Describe Go-Go's music.

I really don't know. It doesn't sound like anyone else. I guess it's pop rock, emphasis on the pop.

Who are some of your musical influences?

I, personally, grew up on '60s radio--AM radio like KRLA, then later FM, like when the Doors first took off. I liked the Beatles and all the folk rockers.

Any current bands who you think are pretty cool?

Jane's Addiction. Faith No More. And Jellyfish--these guys are great. They opened for us one night on this tour. I go for the songs.

What's next for the Go-Go's?

We have no idea. As it stands, we're only together for this tour. Everyone has their own projects. In February, I'll be recording with my band, the Graces. And Belinda will be starting on her next solo album soon. A few months ago, we took a vote and decided to do this tour. Then by coincidence that greatest-hits album came out. We discussed whether or not to do our own solo songs, but we decided against it. We're the Go-Go's. So we'll be doing all of our oldies, which, by the way, I think have held up very well through the years.

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