There they go-go again.
Eighties pop quintet the Go-Go's are reuniting once more — this time with plans for a summer tour, an album of new material, a tell-all biography and a film project.
Their monthlong tour, which kicks off July 7 at the Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston, Mich., will feature opening acts the B-52's and the Psychedelic Furs.
"We all made lists of who we'd ideally like to go out with," singer Belinda Carlisle said. "And the B-52's were right at the top of all of ours. It all just worked out really well."
The latest round of Go-Go's mania began with their recent appearance on the VH1 series "Behind the Music," which was accompanied by the release of a 17-track Behind the Music CD of career highlights that includes such hits as "We Got the Beat" (RealAudio excerpt), "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "Vacation" (RealAudio excerpt). (Sonicnet.com's parent company, Viacom, also owns VH1.)
The band's career adheres to the popular documentary program's formula of rise to success, followed by turbulence and then a self-destructive downward spiral.
Formed during the wild days of Los Angeles punk in the late '70s, the Go-Go's grew to become the antithesis of punk in many ways, embracing their girlishness and penning sugary pop songs. They rose to fame with the successful LPs Beauty and the Beat (1981), Vacation (1982) and Talk Show (1984) before succumbing to the pressures of stardom and splitting up in 1985 amid rumors of personality clashes and substance abuse.
Since then, Carlisle, guitarists Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey, bassist Kathy Valentine and drummer Gina Schock each have pursued independent projects, but nothing's been so successful as when the five of them worked together.
"It remains unlike anything else," Wiedlin said. "This group of people, and these lives coming together, produce something completely unlike anything else, even after all this time."
The VH1 series has a reputation for being sensationalistic, making the worst of artists' foibles and gossip items. For the Go-Go's — a band that skyrocketed to success while young, only to ultimately disband five years later under difficult circumstances — "Behind the Music" could have been a hellish experience.
"There wasn't anything in the special that was too difficult to deal with," Carlisle said. "We'd already discussed most of the stories pretty exhaustively. We've had to, over the years. Keeping the lines of communication open is how we learned to get through. We don't have a whole lot of secrets," she said, implying that perhaps they still have a few.
"Oh, we have plenty more to tell," said Wiedlin, referring to upcoming film and book projects, whose details have yet to be settled on. "The VH1 special ended up being one hour, basically. We are five people with 20 years of history together. There's still a lot of ground to cover.
"It was a little difficult to know that my parents were going to watch it, because I apparently ended up talking about sex a lot," Wiedlin said in her squeaky voice. "I talked to my mom [after the show aired], and she was asking, very vaguely, about some of what she'd seen, asking if so-and-so was 'better.' I said, 'It's OK, Mom, I'm better, too. ... I'm not a slut anymore.' "
Wiedlin was, on that day, contemplating the request for one of the Go-Go's biggest hits to be used in a film project for the ubiquitous Olsen sisters.
"We can't stop them from using the name 'Our Lips Are Sealed,'" she said of the film's working title. "But we have to decide whether we want that song — maybe the most important piece of work I've ever done — used in their movie."
Getting The Word Out
Torn between the urges of resisting such mainstream usage of her work and the hope that it might actually reach younger ears, she reasoned, "Maybe if young girls heard the song in the movie, they'd start thinking about the fact that it's not all about Britney Spears. ... I do like the idea of showing young girls that women actually can kick ass and make their own music."
Though there'll likely be more than a few young girls in the audience this summer, Wiedlin knows their tour will be draining.
"Touring can be tough," she said. "You're away from home, and you get offstage so incredibly high — you can't imagine the high. It's really hard to come down. Then you either go back to your hotel room by yourself, or you go out and celebrate that feeling, which is always easy to do, wherever you are. But then you've created this monster where you just feel like crap all the time. You have to find your own happy medium."
Carlisle finds hers, she said, in reading and needlepoint.
"Touring can be a terrible grind, especially with bus rides. I got to the point where I never wanted to tour America again ... never wanted to see another cornfield. But you want to be out there playing, and you find ways to stay sane."
"We know how to do this by now," Caffey said. "We know how to take care of ourselves and of each other. Or, rather, we know how to not kill each other."
Along the way, the bandmembers will team with iVillage.com and USA Harvest to collect canned goods at each tour stop.
Though there have been brief reunions in the past, this latest regrouping is the first time there's been serious plans for an album of new songs, which the band will begin working on after the tour wraps up Aug. 4 in Irvine, Calif. The new LP is expected to be released in the spring.
"We've got about 30 or so new songs on the table right now," Wiedlin said. "We're throwing stuff around, seeing what fits. There are maybe three [new] favorites that we'll be playing on this tour, before we come back and start work on the album. We'll definitely have some new stuff to show off."