Gina Schock had a bird’s-eye view of the good, the bad and the insane from her vantage point behind the drums kit for the Go-Go’s. And not only did she live to tell the tales of debauchery, chart magic and a lifelong sisterhood with her bandmates — Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey and Kathy Valentine — but now she’s officially a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the author of a coffee table book chronicling the stories behind the music.
“We talked about it years ago but then it kept never happening and we gave up on it,” Schock tells Billboard about the feeling of euphoria she felt over the weekend when the band — the all-female band to top the Billboard 200 albums chart with songs they’d written themselves, via 1981 debut LP Beauty and the Beat — were inducted in their first appearance on the ballot.
“It’s when you give up on something that it happens. Like, ‘To hell with that,'” she says of the band’s feeling in the years when they were passed over for the honor. “We were like, ‘We’re quite comfortable now with what our accomplishments are.’ But then when we find out we’re nominated, then inducted, it’s like, ‘Oh Jesus!’ It was really exciting, and better late than never.”
Schock says the whole night was “so surreal,” but that what made the insanity more manageable was having their OG fan, actress Drew Barrymore, on hand to induct them in Go-Go’s getup — with a robe, a towel on her hair and cold cream on her face, in homage to their Beauty album cover — and then hanging with her afterwards.
The drummer also told some of the wild tales behind her newly released hardcover photo memoir, Made in Hollywood: All Access with the Go-Go’s, which features some of her never-before-seen, behind-the-scenes pics of the band and their famous admirers through the years while telling the tale of their wild-and-crazy career.
Check out Billboard‘s chat with Schock below.
The book is full of so many great shots of the band on the road and backstage, plus Polaroids of the famous friends you met and opened for over the years. Were you always one of those people who had a camera at the ready?
I was the one for sure. I went from an Instamatic to a 35mm camera, and I’m a very visual person and I’ve always been drawn to film and music and photography. So it was very natural that I started taking a lot of photographs. The girls were willing subjects, because we were just a bunch of girls having fun. They weren’t annoyed, because they were just doing what they were doing, and I was unobtrusive in my approach — because I was on the inside, just another person in the room they were used to seeing all the time.
Did any of the essays from your bandmates have stories that surprised you or you didn’t remember?
No, not at all. I’ve been with these girls for over 40 years, and I know them inside and out. I know what they’re thinking before they open their mouth. It’s the longest relationship we’ve been in besides our parents or siblings.
I love the story in the book about how Belinda would would stash all the gig cash in a Barbie thermos near your drum riser so nobody would rip you off.
Whens she sent that story, I did remember it, but back then we’d get all messed up and forget where we put everything. That was a safe place — in punk clubs people would steal s–t left and right.
You’re telling me your first concert was Led Zeppelin opening for the Who in 1969… how could you NOT become a drummer?
To be honest, when I saw that show, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a drummer — I just knew I wanted to be on that stage, because it blew my mind. I didn’t care which instrument I played, I just wanted to be up there. I tried bass and guitar, but when I bought my first set of drums, it was super easy for me to have my legs and arms going in different directions. It made complete sense to me.
There are some great pictures of you hanging with John Doe and Exene Cervenka from X, Joan Jet,t and lots of other punks on the L.A. scene. People probably forget that the Go-Go’s came up through that scene.
When you see us live, you’ll see our punk roots are definitely there. We were certainly a punk band — but the only difference was [Beauty producer] Richard Gotterer told us, ‘Slow everything down so I can hear what’s going on!’ He wanted to hear the words and melodies. That punk scene had such a sense of community, it was just a bunch of friends hanging out and supporting each other, going from club to club every night to see each other.
And the telegram from Pee Wee Herman wishing you good luck on your first SNL gig was so sweet. Not to be rude, but you have so many great keepsakes — photos, posters, pictures — in this book, are you a pack rat?
Paul [Reubens, Pee Wee’s real name] is such a great guy. It’s so cool that a lot of these people from back then are still around, and he was genius back then and still is. I asked him to write me something for book, and he did, and the things that are important to me I saw.
I’m not a hoarder, I’m a sentimentalist. I hate to throw things away. There’s no storage locker, but I have a lot of furniture in my house packed and overflowing with this stuff. Another book could totally come out right now… oh my God there are so many posters, ephemera, buttons, backstage passes, a lot more photographs… it was so difficult figuring out what to put in the book.
You have pictures of and with the Rolling Stones, the Police, Johnny Cash, Kiss, John Belushi, Billy Joel and so many more. Were those Polaroids inspired by Andy Warhol’s famous instant picture series?
There was just a phase where I started taking all these Polaroids and I put away my 35mm camera… there was no real inspiration, it was just the mode I was in at that moment. Whenever we finished playing, I’d start snapping — so there are tons of pictures of the crew, everything and everyone that was going on, landscapes, tour buses. I think I was the least messed-up most of the time, because if I got really messed up I would prob get sick. So I was okay enough to take photos of everyone else being f–ked up.
Tell me about Drew and her cosplay RRHOF induction speech — it feels like she’s a de facto sixth member of the band. Did you guys hang after?
That was what almost got us all to tears. She was so excited to be around us, and said she was afraid to get in photos with us — and we were like, “Drew, are you kidding?” She’s a survivor like us, and she made it into an incredible woman with her own show, production company, movies. We walked off stage and Drew and her mom were off to the side of the stage, just like when she was seven and she’d come see us. It was quite a moment seeing her again and hugging her, and the vibe was so beautiful. We hung out for a while afterward, but [earlier] when she started putting on the cold cream and the towel on her head, we all started dying.
What was your favorite moment of the night?
Every goddamn moment, the onslaught of meeting one star after another, one musician after the next that I loved. But I was so nervous I couldn’t think straight. When we counted off “Vacation,” I swear my body was kind of numb, and I felt like I was gonna pass out. It wasn’t until “Our Lips Are Sealed” that I was really settling in and it was just another show. “You’ve played this a million times, just breathe, breathe.” Everyone was so freaked out and nervous.
This year was notable for having more than one female inductee. Do you have any female-fronted or all-female acts that are on your short list — and what did you think of Kathy’s speech imploring the HOF to be more inclusive of women?
The two that are very different off that bat are Suzi Quatro and the B-52s, no goddamn doubt! We all went over the speech the week before, and talked about being more inclusive and everyone that inspired us and what’s important to us as musicians. But especially that women were out there, and more women will be in there one day. It’ll probably be all women one day! [Laughs.] I’m kidding, but also it was for all those young girls to know that it can happen to you too!
Speaking of which, do you see a bit of your DNA in bands like the Linda Lindas?
I literally was just in L.A. doing a shoot with them! We hunt out for an entire weekend with them and their families — their parents were part of the punk scene there, so they know their punk history — and we played a song with them and had a great time hanging. We were shooting stuff for something that might happen, but I don’t know much more about it now.
Longevity is hard in music, but you end the book with the line, “The Go-Go’s are never over.”
I love that it seems to be the truth. I’m not saying it never ends, but it keeps coming back like a rash! [Laughs.]. Really though, I’m grateful and humble to be in this band. We still really love and like each other and we have an incredible chemistry.
Your Head Over Heels Broadway musical ran in 2018-19 — any word on a possible reboot?
Yes! It’s opening at the Pasadena Playhouse next week and it’s already playing in Australia. As COVID goes away I think it should start happening again.
You’ve lasted longer than almost all your peers and now you’re in the Hall of Fame, so, I have to ask, what do you see as the band’s legacy?
I guess as corny as it sounds: dreams do come true. If you work hard enough and focus, and you’re allowed to have fun along the way, just keep an eye on the prize and go for it. You will hear “no” a million times, but it just takes just that one yes to pass go and collect $500 and keep going. That’s the way we’ve always approached things.
But it really helped being in a band that that the five of us had each other’s backs. If one of us was down we all worked bring her up. None of us were born with a silver spoon and we all worked really hard to get where we are, and along the way we’ve written some great songs with iconic drum beats.
Check out images from the book and the RRHOF induction below.
My book tour has been announced! Find out where you can see my live and virtual book signings, for my new #PHOTOBOOK, #MadeInHollywood. See you on tour in the coming month! Info here, and in the link in my bio: https://t.co/tujaqlMrOl #Rockbook #photography #TheGoGos pic.twitter.com/S97FuC02Gq
— Gina Schock (@realginaschock) October 10, 2021