Belinda Carlisle’s late-Eighties success as a solo artist notwithstanding, there was a good chunk of time over the last decade and a half when we didn’t hear much from the Go-Go’s camp. Them days are over. Sure, there have been start-and-stall reunions before, but this one — which has lasted for a good two years now and is still going strong — seems to be sticking. They’ve all but finished their first studio album in sixteen years, have an exhausting tour plotted for next year, and a VH1 Behind the Music that airs so many times even Jane Wiedlin is sick of it. “I know!” she sighs. “I swear people come up to me every week and are like, ‘I just saw your Behind the Music. It was great!'” I’m like, “O.K.. . ..” Fact is, you’re likely to see and hear more from Wieldin than any other member of the group in the coming months. In addition to the in-progress Go-Go’s album, she’s just finished a new solo record (Kissproof World) and will soon be featured at least once a week on MTV’s forthcoming daily soap, Spyder Games. We caught up with the Go-Go’s resident pixie-voiced, sparkplug punk to take stock of her restproof world, and to get to the bottom of all those S&M dominatrix rumors.
You’ve been a busy bee lately. How’d you end up on a soap opera?
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The writer is a longtime Go-Go’s fan, and he called and asked if I wanted to be part of it. I just thought it sounded like a fun challenge. The show is about this family called the Carlisles — named after Belinda, of course — and they run a video game company called “Spyder Games.” Some of the people in the family are good and some are evil, and there’s all kinds of mischief that they have. There’s a murder that they’re trying to solve, and then there’s tons of sex and drugs, and everyone’s young and beautiful.
Do you get to play an evil character?
No, actually I’m nice. I’m like the ex-rock chick who runs the local coffee house where all of these cool people hang out. I give a lot of advice to the youngest Carlisle son, who wants to be a rock star. He plays music in my coffee house and sometimes I back him up. I’m kind of like his older buddy. We’re doing sixty-five episodes, and I’m doing twenty-something of them. I’m in one every three or four days.
Between taping the soap and touring and recording with the Go-Go’s, how did you squeeze in time to do a solo album?
In my sleep [laughs]. Well, actually I got to record before the whoosy hit the fan. I finished it in the spring, and then the Go-Go’s did the tour and then we started our album, and now the CD’s just coming out, and I’m right in the middle of all the Go-Go’s stuff. It’s kind of crazy busy, and I don’t really know how I’m coping, but it’s cool too. It’s exciting that it’s finally out.
Like Cold, the album you did in 1996 with the band Frosted, Kissproof sounds a lot edgier than the straight pop solo albums you put out in the Eighties.
Yeah, definitely. I made the big turnaround in the early Nineties when I started hearing all the tenth generation punk bands like Green Day and Offspring and all those people. It just made me fall in love with punk again and remember my roots, and since that time I’ve always wanted to do more of that kind of music again.
The new Go-Go’s songs you premiered on tour over the summer also had a lot of bite. With that in mind, were you a little pissed when the Go-Go’s performance on the Today show this summer was preceded by a segment on Eighties nostalgia?
Yes. It’s annoying. It’s annoying when you know that you’re a viable person — you’re not just this relic from twenty years ago. But unfortunately, you can’t control people. That whole Today thing was so weird too, because they had us up there at four o’ clock in the morning for soundcheck. We had a show the night before, we looked like hell, and they were filming us kind of secretly and they put it on some of the local shows, like, “Oh, look, here’s the Go-Go’s warming up with no makeup.” Shit like that is really annoying. Like anyone’s going to look good that early in the morning with no makeup on, let alone beautiful babes in their forties.
How far along is the new Go-Go’s album?
Oh, we’re almost done. Belinda finished her vocals last night [Monday]. And we’ve just kind of got about ten more days of putting on finishing touches — lead guitar, tambourine, stuff like that. I think we’re talking about a May release.
Is it still going to be called “Vision of Nowness”?
Ooh . . . actually I can’t disclose that secret, but I believe it’s changed. Everything’s changed. I came up with an idea and everyone loved it, so now we have an art concept and this really funny title. But if I give stuff like that away, I get in trouble, so I’m keeping my mouth shut. I do! Everyone’s always like, “You’re mouth’s too big! Stop saying stuff!” So I’m trying to be good.
Have you all agreed to put the solo careers on hold for the near future?
Well, once the record comes out there really isn’t time to have a solo career. Starting next May, the shit’s going to hit the fan. We’re going to be going on tour for supposedly eighteen months. I don’t know what kind of life people plan on having during that eighteen months, but we’re going to be really, really busy. The one thing I was able to get out of the management company, just so we don’t drive ourselves crazy, was, “Look, maybe we can work for three weeks and then come home for a week or two and try and recover,” because it’s exhausting. Especially when you’re older. It’s one thing to be twenty and touring the world, but doing it in your forties, you wake up with aches and pains. We’ve all got tendonitis and carpal tunnel in our arms from playing guitar. It’s tougher, so this time we’re trying to do it smarter, so we don’t have nervous breakdowns.
In addition to the new album, there still seems to be talk about a Go-Go’s movie and tell-all book. What’s left to show or tell after your Behind the Music?
Well, with Behind the Music, they have a formula to follow, and it’s very doom and gloom. We wouldn’t want to make a book or a movie like that anyway. If we do a movie, it would probably focus on one short period, maybe one weekend or a couple of weeks. It’s going to be story-driven; it’s not going to be biographical, and it’s going to be funny. Behind the Music was not funny at all. It was depressing. And there’s a million things we didn’t talk about, so I think that there’s still plenty of material for a book. It just remains how much of a tell-all we want to tell. Sometimes we think, “We should just tell everything. It’ll be so cool!” And other times we think, “Oh my god, no, it would be too embarrassing. Let’s just make a nice book” [laughs]. Until we sort that out, I don’t see how we can actually go there.
I have to ask about those Jane Weidlin S&M Dominatrix stories that came out over the summer — especially since you play it up in the artwork to Kissproof World.
Well, it all kind of happened around the same time, which is kind of why that story came out. I mean that story was just a joke I was having with my friend Dan Matthews. He writes this comedy column for a gay magazine, and I gave him this funny story about, “Yeah, I just got off my dominatrix gig.” So he prints it, and then, because he’s also the head guy at PETA, he decides to use it for his PETA campaign — “You can be a dominatrix without using leather!” And the whole thing just got absolutely out of hand. But, if people want to believe I’m a dominatrix in my spare time, that’s fine with me — I mean, I’m definitely happy to smack people around if that’s what they really want [laughs].
You’re actually topless in one of the album photos, and there have been rumors about Belinda posing for Playboy. Are all the Go-Go’s going naked at once?
No. I don’t think you would want to see all five Go-Go’s naked — I think we would be scary. But Belinda is doing Playboy. I believe it’s coming out in April. Good timing. You’ve got to love that timing!