Friday, July 31, 2020

Song of the Day: 'Club Zero' by the Go-Go's

So here's the first new Go-Go's song in nearly 20 years, which was written for the closing credits of the new documentary about the band that also premieres today.

That they opted to record a new song is of note because as hardcore Go-Go's fans know, money was one of the biggest reasons the band first broke up. As the five members began receiving their royalty checks for their No. 1 album, "Beauty and the Beat," Kathy Valentine recounts in her memoir that it was obvious there was a hierarchy of wealth, with Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin way at the top, Valentine in the middle (having written "Can't Stop the World" by herself), Belinda Carlisle next (as co-writer of "Skidmarks on My Heart") and drummer Gina Schock at the bottom, only receiving mechanical royalties for playing on the songs. Gina was the most upset, arguing that “any of us” could have written the songs. Yet in the four decades that have come and gone since, another “This Town” or “Lust to Love” has never materialized from Caffey/Wiedlin much less Schock.

Although they tried to address the inequity on the second and especially third album, the damage had been done. (Their 2001 comeback album, "God Bless the Go-Go's," featured the most diverse writing lineup.) So with that in mind, here’s what Charlotte, Gina and "The Go-Go's" documentary director Alison Ellwood had to say about the new track. (Italics mine.)

For the documentary, the Go-Go's recorded “Club Zero,” their first new song in nearly 20 years. How was that experience like?

Caffey: When we decided we wanted to write an end credits song, it could be cool to all of a sudden have something new. I had just written this music with Anna Waronker and I've worked with her for years. That's what we wanted to write: “Let's do something really up and anthemic and punky and cool.” So here's this music and all of sudden I'm putting lyrics and I'm like, “Oh my God, this is f***ing working.” So I showed it to everybody, everyone loved it. Then we continued on and Kathy, Jane and I finished the lyrics. It's kind of this cool and right for this moment. We didn't even know what was coming when we wrote it like a year-and-a-half ago. We think it's just perfect for the documentary and for this moment right now.

Schock: We all worked on it, got together, went in to record it. We knocked it out in two days, which kind of amazed me because we haven't recorded in 20 years. We went into the studio and two days we were done, backing vocals and all, boom! Done! I was like kicking myself in the butt: “You know what? We really are pros.” I was amazed, no problems at all, and we went in there and kicked ass. Everybody's voice in this band is super important. Without the five of us, it's not the Go-Go's.

Ellwood: I had no idea that they were going to end up writing a new song. I had secretly hoped that they would try to do that. Then once I realized they actually were seriously doing it, I said: “Please let us film you playing around with it, it would be such a great ending for the film.” That's what we shot at the Whisky [in Los Angeles]. It was fun for them to come back to where it all began, once they were pretty big.

What do we think?

The song just popped up on YouTube and I notice Gina didn't receive a writing credit -- which I mention because of her combative track record, suing both Charlotte (over unpaid "We Got the Beat" royalties) and Debbi Peterson of the Bangles (over use of songs they wrote for their short-lived band Smashbox), stating that it’s “not her fault” that Debbi “can’t play her instrument.” (Ouch.) She also calls former House of Schock bandmate Vance DeGeneres (Ellen’s brother) a “total asshole.” Streaming doesn’t pay much, though, so maybe it’s not really an issue anymore.

 I'm excited for the new documentary but don't understand why they keep ragging on their episode of "Behind the Music." The whole point of that series was to tell us something we didn't already know -- to go BEHIND the music -- not to rehash their accomplishments. This time I hear the rare footage is what steals the show! 


The band has released a new video featuring clips from the documentary. 

1 comment:

ShortFilms said...

Love it. Shame it’s not a full album, but even Madonna and U2 can’t sell music these days, so it would truly need to be a labor of love. It does make a nice ending for the doc so they can at least play the part of a productive band. And to be fair, they would be touring and playing that new song if not for this damn pandemic.