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Drummer Gina Schock on Her New Book ‘Made in Hollywood: All Access with the Go-Go’s,’ Rock Hall of Fame Induction and Beyond
You may think you’ve stumbled into a time warp when you see how omnipresent The Go-Go’s have become in 2021. Formed as a punk band in 1978, the group — singer Belinda Carlisle, guitarists Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin, bassist Kathy Valentine and drummer Gina Schock — were the focus of 2020’s acclaimed Showtime documentary The Go-Go’s and haven’t slowed down since.
Schock has released her first book, Made in Hollywood: All Access with The Go-Go’s. It’s a mind-blowing coffee table photo book packed with stories and photos collected by the drummer over her 40-year career. “I’m excited to share this with everyone because these photos have just been sitting in drawers and under the beds and closets and all over the place,” says Schock. “It’s nice to have them all in one place so that everybody will be able to see them.”
Made in Hollywood includes essays with friends the band has made along the journey, including Kate Pierson, Jodie Foster and Dave Stewart. Schock explains how the band reunited after their 1985 breakup when actress and activist Jane Fonda asked them to perform at a 1990 benefit for the Environmental Protection Initiative.
The book’s release precedes the Go-Go’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2021, alongside Tina Turner, Carole King, JAY-Z, Foo Fighters and Todd Rundgren, on October 30th. The band embarks on a short tour in December 2021.
Rock Cellar: What lessons can young musicians take from your career?
Gina Schock: The only lesson that I know is to have faith in your own ability. Because you’re going to run across a lot of no’s. You’re going to hear “no” a lot more than you’re going to hear “yes.” You gotta have faith in your own ability, and if you believe you can do it, you can do it. I’m a perfect example.
I come from Baltimore. I didn’t have any connections out to L.A. and I came out here with a dream. But I was very, very focused. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I just worked my ass off. You just gotta stay hyper-focused.
I would say stay away from drugs as much as you can, it does not help things. There’s a time and a place for everything but for the most part, it’s kind of a fucking letdown ultimately. You gotta have faith in yourself. If you believe in yourself, it’s contagious.
Rock Cellar: What are your thoughts on the Go-Go’s long-awaited induction into the Rock Hall?
Gina Schock: It’s taken so long, but now I’m excited about it. It will be exciting to see the audience with all my peers. I can’t wait to see everyone that’s going to be there to play and meet and greet. It will certainly be very memorable for the band. I’m super-excited about it. I could probably speak for the rest of the band in saying that.
Rock Cellar: Your new book is a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes photos and stories.
Gina Schock: I am super-excited about the book. The Go-Go’s stuff takes care of itself but I had to take the reins here and try to get everything together as far as book signings. It’s a hell of a lot of work, but I’m used to that. I can’t believe I’m actually putting out a book of my photographs that I wrote, too. There’s a lot of text as well. I’m excited to share this with everyone because these photos have just been sitting in drawers and under the beds and closets and all over the place.
It’s nice to have them all in one place, so that everybody will be able to see them. Nobody else was gonna do this book, so I’m glad I could. And I could gather other photos and essays from other people that we worked with along the way. It was a real labor of love, and I can’t wait to get it out there.
I’m also doing gallery shows with my photographs. I’m very excited to be doing a gallery show in L.A. at a place called Mr. Musichead (on Nov. 6). And one up here in San Francisco at Saint Joseph’s Art Society. And one in a little get-together in Laguna Beach at Harley. I’m setting up stuff in New York right now to do lots of book signings there, virtual and in-person stuff.
Rock Cellar: What can fans expect on the upcoming tour?
Gina Schock: We’re doing seven shows this December. We’ll be playing all the favorites and I guess we’ll put in our new song, “Club Zero.” We have to get together, we’ll rehearse and figure out what we want to play. We’ll probably add a couple of new things. We have to get into the same room to work it all out.
Rock Cellar: After the Go-Go’s broke up, you became lead singer of your own band, House of Schock.
Gina Schock: Believe me, I had no intentions, I just wanted to play drums and write the material because I was ready for that. The rest of the band was like, “Gina, you sing these songs better than anybody else that we’ve brought in and tried to introduce as our lead singer. You should just be the singer, let’s stop searching the country to find the singer for House of Schock. You should do it.” So I just wound up doing it.
Rock Cellar: So no featured vocals on the upcoming Go-Go’s tour.
Gina Schock: No. The Go-Go’s are the Go-Go’s. I’m a separate thing. Jane does her separate stuff, we all have our different things that we’re involved in that don’t involve the Go-Go’s. But certainly the Go-Go’s is definitely the platform for everything that we individually do. It all starts there.
Rock Cellar: If the Go-Go’s remained hardcore punk rockers, how different would your careers have been?
Gina Schock: They would have been over a lot sooner. What this band transformed itself into was a very natural progression. Thank God, because there’s a time and place for everything. As we got better and better, it just sort of happened the way it was supposed to.
We didn’t have anything set. We didn’t know exactly what the hell we were doing. We were just writing songs and working on arranging them and getting better at playing our instruments and trying to write about more interesting things. It was a learning process. All of it.
But I think our punk roots remain, there’s no doubt. And I’m glad we’ve come from that. And that’s part of what keeps us really relevant in this day and age as well. Because we’ve got something strong to back us up.
Rock Cellar: Like Blondie, were you criticized when you made the switch to a more pop sound and began selling records?
Gina Schock: Well, Richard Gottehrer produced Blondie and produced the Go-Go’s. He gave them more of a pop sound and he gave us more of a pop sound. At first we didn’t like it but then when the record sales were like “Oh my God,” all of a sudden Richard Gottehrer is God. He’s the man.
We thought he ruined our songs. They weren’t punk anymore, but they were something else. They were emerging into a bigger world of music. It was not punk and then it became pop. It was punk-pop. Rock. A mixture of those genres of music, which gave us a larger audience. And it works.
Rock Cellar: In your new book, you wrote about the importance of songwriting. What should young musicians know about songwriting revenues?
Gina Schock: I think the most important thing to know is that if you are in a band, it’s very important to share your songwriting money. You can sit and write songs all day long. Unless you have the platform to show those songs off and let larger groups of people hear it, it doesn’t matter. A great songwriter is one thing. But it doesn’t matter if you don’t have an audience to play it for.
With the Go-Go’s, people were coming to see the Go-Go’s. Thank God that Charlotte, Jane and Kathy were writing good songs at the time as well, but one was no good without the other as far as I’m concerned.
Rock Cellar: What does that conflict do to the internal makeup of a band?
Gina Schock: It breaks a band up. It broke our band up. It had a lot to do with breaking our band up when we’re all out there working our asses off and a couple of people in the band are making a lot more than you are. It’s not fair. It’s not right.
You can take credit for writing something, but you should be sharing those royalties with your bandmates. That’s the way it should be.
Rock Cellar: Rich Williams of Kansas told us the royalties that the entire band receives are used to pay off all the costs of recording, but the songwriters get paid from the first record sold. And that caused members of the band to leave.
Gina Schock: Sure! There’s a lot of managers out nowadays that won’t even sign a band unless they split things because they know the minute money comes in, the band’s gonna break up if one person’s making 10 times what the other one’s making.
If everybody’s working their ass off and they’re on tour, the money should be split equally. Because you know what? Like that dude from Kansas said, we’re all paying for this rehearsal room together, I’m not getting any deal on this. Just because I’m not writing the song?
It’s your input. What you contribute to that song as a player is part of what makes up the sound of that song. That’s valuable. If you’re a solo artist, that’s one thing. We’re in a band, man. Everybody needs to get their due. And it just shouldn’t be on stage. It should be in your pocketbook too. Do the right thing. Be fair. You can take all the credit you want as a songwriter, but you should split the money.
Rock Cellar: How did the band reunite in the 1990s?
Gina Schock: We were already starting to talk. Belinda had made a couple of calls, I made a couple of calls. There were these little calls unbeknownst to each other, and then all of a sudden we realized “oh, we’ve all been talking to each other.” And then when the Jane Fonda thing came up, it was like well, there’s no excuse because we’re all environmental activists and yes, of course we want to be part of this. And who says no to Jane Fonda? And after that, it felt very natural, very normal to just get back, starting working again, start playing together, steppin’ on stage together and letting that magic happen.
Because when we play, it’s this wonderful chemistry that doesn’t happen anywhere else with any other people that I’ve played with. Everybody else in the band says the same thing. I’ve played with a lot of different people, but when you’re playin’ with the Go-Go’s it’s just a different thing. Totally different.
Rock Cellar: What’s the secret of staying together since then?
Gina Schock: We’re family. You know how it is with your family. You can’t stand them, but then in a week or a month you get over whatever the fight was about. You go right back to business. Of course we’re family. That will never go away.
I can’t tell you how many times they’re like, “I’m never fuckin’ working with such and such in the band. I’m never gonna step on stage with her again.” And then something comes up, the manager says, “Do you guys want to do this?” We’re like “Yes, of course we want to do that!” And then we get in that rehearsal room together and and it’s all huggin’ and kissin’ and lovey-dovey. We all love each other here. Because it’s family.
Rock Cellar: You wrote, “The drummer is the foundation of every song.” Explain that.
Gina Schock: The drummer is the foundation of every song because that’s where it starts. When you’re recording a track, usually you start out with the drums. You gotta come up with the drumbeat that’s gonna make that song put all the parts together, make it all cohesive. The drums are the glue. People have got to follow something, they’re gonna follow the beat, the rhythm. The drummer comes up with that. Can you imagine “We Got the Beat” without that drumbeat? It wouldn’t be the same song.
That’s a perfect example of a drumbeat that counts, that matters. I use that because it’s the most obvious one, but there’s Hunt Sales’ drumbeat in Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life.” I mean, Whoa! There are a lot of songs that you can sit around and talk about drum parts. My God, John Bonham. Keith Moon. Their parts stick out like a sore thumb. You can’t help but notice them because they had something that is one of the major parts of the sound of those bands. It’s a major part of the sound.
As far as it being the foundation you’ve got to start somewhere, you start with the drums. Somebody brings in a guitar riff or a bass line, starts playin’ it, starts workin’ out the drum parts then everybody starts putting in parts after you get that drum part worked out. You gotta get the beat straight. Everybody locks into that beat. The song starts comin’ together. That’s why it’s the foundation.
Rock Cellar: Let’s do a lightning round. Favorite drummer.
Gina Schock: I have a lot of favorite drummers but I’d have to say the reason that I started playing drums was because of two drummers. Charlie Watts and John Bonham.
Rock Cellar: What is an overlooked Go-Go’s song that more people should have listened to?
Gina Schock: How about a song I co-wrote called “Beautiful”? On Return to the Valley of the Go-Go’s.
Rock Cellar: If you were not in the Go-Go’s, what band would you have been a good fit in?
Gina Schock: Foo Fighters.
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