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Head Over Heels

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"Those have been out of print for a while," says Go-Go's guitarist Charlotte Caffey. "Vacation has been out of print for a really, really long time. I mean, I only have one of each of those records. You know, it's like, 'Jeez, I'd like to be able to get some copies of those.'"

Speaking from Los Angeles, where the band has been rehearsing, Caffey says the initial impetus for this latest Go-Go's reunion began last September when the group inked a deal with director Ted Demme and his producer/wife Amanda Scheer Demme to develop a feature film about the group. "It kind of started because we were all talking about the movie and we talked about doing some dates," recalls Caffey. "Then [I.R.S. Records founder] Miles Copeland came up with a tour and we thought, 'Oh, well, let's just do it.'"

Although the film's premise has yet to be determined, the Demmes promise that the "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" aspect of the band's early-'80s excesses will be well-documented, whatever shape the final script takes. As for the film, Caffey and company are less concerned about a warts-and-all portrayal than having their celluloid story become a cliched rock 'n' roll stereotype.

"We don't necessarily want to do a bio-pic," she says. "Mostly because it's like, 'Big deal. Band gets together and gets big. Then the excesses come and they fall apart.' It's one of those things that you've seen a million times. What we're trying to do is find the story within the story. We want to try and narrow it down and maybe just look at one weekend or something."

Caffey admits that the film has been progressing at a somewhat sluggish pace. If the typical moviemaking delays have come as a surprise, it's been nothing compared to learning about the cutthroat nature of the film industry, one which Caffey says makes the music business look tame by comparison. "It's been an interesting process getting to know Hollywood. I mean, I've never felt luckier to be in the music industry. Because Hollywood is much more competitive--it's just really hard-core. But this is a whole other avenue of creativity, and if we get to do it, I think it'll be a blast."

A separate project also in the works is a tell-all book authorized by the band and set to be penned by longtime Go-Go's confidante Pleasant Gehman. Caffey says fans shouldn't expect a serious, thought-provoking tome. "It's going to be a lot of pictures, a lot of stories. Mainly we want trash. We would like it to be a book that you pick up at the airport and go, 'Ooh, this looks trashy, let me take it on the plane.' We want it to be one of those ones that you don't want to put down."

Another project of a somewhat more reverential nature is Unsealed, a new Go-Go's tribute album from 4 Alarm records featuring interpretations of some of the group's best-known songs by indie bands like Figdish, Truly, and Season to Risk. "I haven't heard it yet, but there's an AOL Go-Go's board, and the fans on there are kind of appalled by it," says Caffey with a laugh. "Maybe I have a more eclectic sense of music, but I'd be interested to hear bands like the Frogs and the Chainsaw Kittens to see what they do with the songs."

Although the summer tour will visit only a dozen cities, the group is planning to record several of the shows for the purpose of compiling a live album to be marketed and sold through their newly launched Web site.

Amid the various projects, the one question that keeps coming up is whether the tour is merely a one-off event or if the temporary re-formation will lead to something more permanent--possibly a resumption of their recording career. Caffey isn't quite sure what the future holds in that regard, but points to Blondie's rebirth with this year's No Exit (the group's first new album in 17 years) as an obvious source of inspiration.

"They set the tone doing what they did. I think it's so great. The thing about Blondie that people ask is, 'Is this like an '80s thing?' Well, no it's not. A lot of music written at that time was passionate. There was a lot of passion going on and a lot of intensity in that punk movement. So much so that it's still valid today. It's almost like they're new songs. There's something about them that makes them as vital today as it was then."

Although there's certainly more resonance in the work of Blondie or the Go-Go's than, say, A Flock of Seagulls, the biggest concern of any group attempting a "comeback" is whether they can assemble an album that isn't merely a rehash of their previous material. Caffey is hopeful that the group members' transition from wild twentysomethings to mature 40-year-olds will prove to be an artistically rewarding one.

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Bob Mehr
Contact: Bob Mehr