Their lips aren’t sealed: The Go-Go’s speak out on Showtime

Group’s members are candid about their shared ups and downs

“The Go-Go’s” airs Friday on Showtime.

Music endures, as do many of the artists who have created it … as The Go-Go’s are proving anew.

Though the all-female band that emerged from punk rock to yield such early-1980s pop hits as “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “Vacation” famously broke up, the members have reunited. Their latest concert tour has been postponed by the coronavirus pandemic, but their history is traced in director Alison Ellwood’s (“Laurel Canyon”) documentary “The Go-Go’s,” which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Its Showtime debut Friday, July 31, comes the same day as the release of the group’s new single “Club Zero.”

At the band’s peak, the central Go-Go’s were lead singer Belinda Carlisle, guitarists Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin, bass player Kathy Valentine (whose memoir, “All I Ever Wanted,” was published recently) and drummer Gina Schock. For this article, several of them spoke about their shared past and present, encompassing one of the rare debut albums to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts (“Beauty and the Beat”).

“The Go-Go’s” airs Friday on Showtime.

Q: What effect did watching the documentary have on you?

Caffey: We got an advance copy before Sundance, and Alison asked us, “Please just play it all the way through. Take it in as a total thing.” I did exactly that, and at the end, I felt the biggest surge of warmth and compassion and love for my bandmates. I’m an open book about my (former) drug addiction, because I feel that maybe it will help somebody.

Q: The rise of The Go-Go’s paralleled that of MTV. How do you look back on the channel’s role in the group’s popularity?

Valentine: We faced such resistance from radio, but college stations and rogue DJs who had the power to slip in a song were playing us. And there was the power of MTV putting us in people’s living rooms. It was a fan-driven and sales-driven thing that made us start getting added to those playlists that (radio) program directors were dominating.

Q: What’s your take on how the music of The Go-Go’s has endured?

Wiedlin: The proudest thing for me is that some of the greatest music of the latter half of the 20th century was influenced by The Go-Go’s. I mean, music by Kurt Cobain and (Green Day’s) Billie Joe Armstrong … how many more accolades do you need after that?

Q: What professional advice do you give others?

Schock: (Music has) got to come from your soul and from your heart, and that’s the way I’ve played. No one showed me how to play; I just had my own style, and it’s worked. I say to anyone, “Just play an instrument. You never know until you try.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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