It’s been an astonishing 30 years since the last Top 10 hit by the Go-Go’s, the 1980s band that made history by being the first — and only — all-female group that wrote its own songs and played its own instruments to top the Billboard album chart.
And yet its hits, such as “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “Vacation,” sound as fresh and fun — or even more so — as what’s on the radio these days.
That was by design, lead guitarist and keyboardist Charlotte Caffey says in a phone call from Virginia, where the band had stopped for a show on the Replay America Tour of 1980s acts. (The tour makes a stop at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville Thursday, July 17.)
“Interestingly enough, the way we recorded our records were exactly that — we didn’t date them with, like, electronic drums or synthesizers,” Caffey says. “We are just a rock and pop band, that’s what we are. And I believe we recorded the records to feature the songs rather than it being a giant production.”
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Those songs, and those of the other bands on the tour (Patty Smyth of Scandal, Martha Davis and The Motels, and Naked Eyes) are central to Replay America, and the reason why the Go-Go’s chose to do it, Caffey says.
“It was presented to us, and we thought, we’d never done anything like this before, we always go on our own tours,” Caffey says. “But the thing is, what we look at is the songs, you know? We thought it might be fun to join forces and just bring a lot of great songs to people and have them have a great evening — uplift their spirit. And that really was my intention behind saying yes.”
But even at that, how do the Go-Go’s — whose live performances are still vital — feel about performing on a nostalgia tour?
Caffey again refers to the music.
“The ’80s, no matter what kind of wacky fashion or whatever else that went on in the ’80s, the songs that came out of it, there was really great songwriting, in my opinion.”
She has a point. The other groups also have music that has stood the test of time. Scandal’s “Goodbye to You” and “The Warrior” remain fresh. Same with The Motels’ “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer.”
And Naked Eyes’ “Promises Promises” and cover of the Dionne Warwick hit “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” — which the latter song’s writer, Burt Bacharach, has said is his favorite version.
Besides, Caffey says, summer is a time to recapture anyone’s memories, and the Go-Go’s are well suited to do that, with hits such as “Vacation.”
“We were presented with the idea and we thought this could be pretty cool — pretty fun for the summer,” Caffey says. “The lineup, with Martha and Patty, it seemed like it’d be a fun, great, song-centric show. You know, we’re known for summer and we’re known for fun, so it kind of made sense.”
The Go-Go’s have history with some of the other acts, Caffey says. The band used to share a rehearsal room with Martha Davis and The Motels at the start of their career in a California punk club called The Mask.
“So that’s how long we have known Martha,” Caffey says with a laugh. “So it was a long time ago.”
Not that things haven’t changed for the Go-Go’s.
With all the members now in their mid-50s — Caffey is the oldest at 56 — touring also is more focused on music, she says.
“I mean, we grew up, we’ve grown up,” Caffey says, laughing. “And we don’t party and all that stuff. You know, we were just like a baby band back in the ’80s. You’re young, you don’t think about that. But, you know, now a lot of us are moms.
“It’s a different feeling because we have grown up and also we’re still together and we’re working and it’s a cool thing. We recognize that — we really appreciate each other as a band.”