In the early '80s, the Go-Go's were considered the quintessential California girls, mainly thanks 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 where 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.
B-Sides: What's the typical Go-Go's fan like at a show these days?
Jane Wiedlin: It's a little hard to say, but what we do see a lot is couples in their forties 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.
They'd get beaten down on blogs and message boards, I think.
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.
That's pretty badass. Everyone has a fantasy of being a comic-book character.
What's the plot line?
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 plot line. 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 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.— Annie Zaleski
8 p.m. Thursday, January 31. Bottleneck Blues Bar at the Ameristar Casino, One Ameristar Boulevard, St. Charles. $50. 636-949-7777.
Godfather of the '80s power-ballad, Richard Marx sustains a beat-'em-to-the-punch self-deprecation, which verifies why we've been right here waiting for him for more than two decades. Now playing acoustic shows with Vertical Horizon's Matt Scannell, Marx is breathing fresh life into classics such as "Hold On to the Nights." B-Sides sang the tough questions.
B-Sides: The songs on 2004's My Own Best Enemy are described as "dark and confessional." What sets them apart from the dark confessions of, say, "Hazard"?
Richard Marx: Well, I wasn't a murderer in small-town Nebraska. That probably would have come out over the years. But really, and I'm not trying to be difficult, I think that the more you talk about songs, the less interesting they become.
I wish that you could tell me more...but let's talk tour. How'd you meet Matt?
I, along with 2 million other people, bought "Everything You Want." I listened through, loving every single song on the record. A year later, Vertical Horizon was playing down the street from me, and they came to see my show. I was shocked that they wanted to see me. Soon, Matt and I started hanging out and just hit it off. That's what makes our show entertaining. You're seeing two best friends just hanging out, loving music.
Does he say exactly the right things at exactly the right time?
He's funny like that. It's weird. I do concede that.
You guys have a video blog where you mention Wikipedia. Your entry is lengthy — but Scannell doesn't even have his own page!
What?! That's ridiculous! He's a loser! I can't believe that, I'm not going to tour with him anymore! But thanks for bringing that to my attention. We have lots of friendly rivalries.
A year and a half ago, Matt found out they were releasing his song "Best I Ever Had," recorded by Gary Allen. At the same time, my song "Better Life" was being released by Keith Urban. When we realized we were going to be on the country charts at the same time, Matt said, "It's not that I don't want your song to do well, I just want mine to do better." And I said, "You need to understand that's not going to happen. This is going to be embarrassing for you." When the Urban song jumped the Allen song, I sent Matt an e-mail and said, "How does my ass look?" To which he e-mailed back some expletives.
On that same vlog, you guys talk Ted Drewes. If there were a new flavor dedicated to you, what would it be?
It would be coffee-flavored ice cream with dark chocolate streams. And it would be called "Skidmarx."
That feathered hair — should you'a known better?
I shoulda. But guys will make cracks, and I'll always say, "You got your wallet? Lets see a picture of you from 1987!" Besides, Lethal Weapon started it.
These words that you say — do they don't mean nuthin'?
Just every fourth word. The meaning will still add up.— Kristyn Pomranz
8 p.m. Thursday, January 31. VooDoo Lounge at Harrah's Casino, 777 Casino Center Drive, Maryland Heights. $25. 314-770-8100.
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