Belinda Carlisle still packing them in


Friday, December 6

Tickets $60 plus booking fee

It's strange talking to someone who was a global star before you were even born.

Belinda Carlisle rose to fame and fortune as leader of the Go-Go's, the trailblazing all-female group that sold millions of copies of the three records released in the early 1980s before disbanding in 1984 - a full six years before this 23-year-old writer was a twinkle in his father's eye.

A solo career beckoned, spawning iconic (and karaoke-ready) hits from Heaven is a Place on Earth to Summer Rain - songs still released years before my birth, but which ring out through radio speakers and bar-room singalongs to this day.

I knew all this before getting Ms Carlisle on the phone. What I didn't know was where and how she kicked off a career in music - an unlikely stint as drummer for the Germs, the Los Angeles punk outfit formed by teenage Pat Smear, who would go on to join Nirvana and Foo Fighters.

"I loved punk music. I was one of 50 kids that started the LA punk scene," Carlisle said of her brief time as a punk-rock drummer, under the pseudonym Dottie Danger.

"The Go-Go's came from the punk scene, but we always had aspirations of being a punk band along the lines of the Buzzcocks or Blondie, something more melodic. It wasn't a big leap from the Germs to the Go-Go's, or from the Go-Go's to my solo work. Everything I did was authentic and representative of where I was at that moment."

Moving from the chaotic punk rock of the Germs to New Wave with the Go-Go's and on to a more conventional, radio-friendly pop solo career within eight years, Carlisle clearly has little qualms over changing directions, attempting the unconventional, shaking up expectations.

After a handful of reunions with the Go-Go's, and a 2007 album of French-language covers (Voila), Carlisle has spent the last half-decade doing the unexpected - by doing not much at all.

"I don't want to get back on the hamster wheel, that's for sure," she said.

It's been six years since Voila, and a further 11 years since A Woman and a Man, her last LP of original material. She still tours globally, packing arenas with a career-spanning solo set, and she records the odd new single now and again. But a new album could not be further from her mind.

"There's new formats and new ways to introduce material into the market. It doesn't have to be an album any more. I don't think I have the time and attention to do an album right now," she said.

Between TV appearances and sporadic touring and work with the Go-Go's, Carlisle still travels around the world - when she feels like it, that is. She is currently travelling Australia, playing a run of big dates under her own name.

Touring here every few years, with no new material to support but with a set she says is "99 per cent hits, with a few obscure things thrown in", is all part of the attitude she has towards her life nowadays.

"Music doesn't define me at all. It just happens that it's my job and I love my job."

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