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Head Over Heels

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"The thing I've always said is that I'd love to see where we are. We've all had a lot of experiences outside the band. At least on a playing level and a musical level, we sound better than we've ever sounded. So it would be interesting on a writing level to see how everyone's changed as well.

In an era where music and entertainment are increasingly targeted toward the youth market, Caffey doesn't think the band's age or past reputation will matter if they decide to record again. "I think a good record is a good record, regardless of who puts it out, how old they are, and what century it is. If it comes out and strikes a chord with people, then it's a good record," says Caffey.

Unlike other bands that have reunited to the collective groan of the public, the prospect of a new Go-Go's album is considerably more appealing. Although the tracks on the group's swan song may not have been as fully realized as their earlier material, it's difficult to argue against the notion that the Go-Go's ended their original run too early. While one could debate the relative merits of Talk Show versus Beauty and the Beat, there's little doubt that the group was at or near their creative peak when the combination of guitarist Jane Wiedlin's departure and increasing chemical addiction within the group forced them to halt the band after just three albums.

Although Caffey says the group hasn't been writing songs for an album as such, the idea of resuming as a working unit is clearly on their minds. "Yeah, we've talked about it. We haven't started that process yet mostly because we just haven't had the time. Also Belinda's in the cycle of starting a new solo record."

Judging solely on the basis of the three new songs written for the Valley retrospective (two of which Caffey co-wrote), there seems to be more than sufficient potential for the Go-Go's to follow Blondie's lead back into the recording studio. "I would love to see what would happen when we sit down and try to write stuff, just to see what happens without any pressure," says Caffey. "Because that's the best place to be. When you're not having to worry about a record deal and you're not like, 'Oh my God, we have to do this.' But for me the bottom line is the material would just have to be phenomenal."

Since the band's breakup, Caffey has been active with a variety of projects. In 1989, she formed the Graces (a group that included future "Bitch" rocker Meredith Brooks), which released Perfect View, an overproduced and largely ignored album for A&M. More recently, Caffey received a co-writing credit on "Reasons to Be Beautiful," a track from Hole's critical and commercial hit Celebrity Skin. The album owes an obvious debt to the well-crafted Southern California girl-pop sound that Caffey helped pioneer. Caffey says it wasn't coincidental that Hole front woman Courtney Love enlisted her help writing songs for the project. "I think Courtney knew exactly what she wanted to do when she worked with me," says Caffey, laughing.

"Originally I had approached her when I went to the Nirvana taping of Saturday Night Live. This was before Live Through This came out or anything like that. I had heard Pretty on the Inside and I thought this might be an interesting collaboration. Because I like to search out collaborators who can bring something different than what I could do. And I'd say she has far more angst than me--at least on the outside.

"I had another band called Astrid's Mother, and Courtney came to one of our shows in 1995. She came backstage and said she really wanted to write together. So I worked with her and Eric [Erlandson] in New York a little bit and came up with several ideas. She also came over to my house a few times and worked. It was great. I was so thrilled that one of the ones we worked on made it on the record--because it's always kind of a crapshoot."

In addition to her recent work with Hole, Caffey also appeared on Jewel's multiplatinum smash Pieces of You, arranging and playing piano on the song "Foolish Games." Caffey has also worked frequently with her former Go-Go's bandmates, both as a longtime contributor to Carlisle's solo albums as well as co-writing several cuts with Wiedlin for her ill-fated group Frosted. Although she's been away from the regular grind of touring and recording for several years, Caffey (who's married to Redd Kross founder Jeff McDonald) says the creative opportunities she's been afforded have been more than fulfilling. "I really love the behind-the-scenes stuff. I still love playing live, and I love doing records, but writing songs is my main thing."

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Bob Mehr
Contact: Bob Mehr