November 2008: by BRADLEY MASON HAMLIN and LUCY HELL for MYSTERY ISLAND MUSIC
BRAD: Hi Kathy! Itís an honor to be speaking with the hottest bass player in girl band history. Letís start with the newer stuff. Tell us about your last album, Light Years.
KATHY: Well, itís been some time since I made that record. I started it when I was pregnant in 2002, and really enjoyed making it. It gave me confidence to step into the field of producing. I learned to trust my ideas and talent more fully. In a band, because it is a kind of democracy, many things a person wants to do are thwarted, diluted, or modified. Thatís a great process too, having something filtered through several people, but I had done that my whole career.
LUCY: Who did you work with on Light Years? From what I heard it sounded like an interesting mix of retro and modern influences.
KATHY: I used nearly all my favorite musicians I could round up. Clem Burke, Gilby Clarke, Mark Dutton. I had some guests contribute: Ace Frehley, Craig Ross, Denny Freeman. Craig plays with Lenny Kravitz and Denny is with Dylanís band. If anyone reading this doesnít know who Ace is, they need to go back to rock n roll school!!
BRAD: No way, that's KISS street cred for you, baby! Letís dig a little into your history. Tell us about coming to Los Angeles as a teenager in the 1970s and playing with The Textones.
KATHY: I moved when I was 18, with a band called the Violators. We thought we should be as big as the Runaways. But we broke up instead. Carla Olson and I started the Textones. It was the same era as the Blasters, X, the Plimsouls, and yes, the Go-Goís. The LA scene was a great cross section of roots, pop, punk, rockabilly. The Textones were very unfocused while I was in the band, 2 different directions.
LUCY: Didnít you live in England before that?
KATHY: My mother is English, and I often went as I was growing up, but just for extended visits, not as a resident. It had a huge influence on me. Seeing Suzi Quatro made me realize girls could be rock stars. I took my guitar in 75 or 76, I donít remember exactly, and joined up with an early version of Girlschool called Painted Lady.
BRAD: And tell us how you got mixed up in the punk rock scene. Were you a punk rock girl as you joined The Go-Goís in 1980?
KATHY: Not really. I got a scary, very short and spiky haircut from Charlie of the Plugz when I first got there. And a tattoo. I embraced the energy of punk, but if it didnít have intelligence or melody in the mix it didnít do anything for me. I wasnít angry, I just wanted to have fun and rock.
LUCY: We love The Plugz! Tell us a scary Go-Goís story.
KATHY: One time we played at the Palladium, and the next morning were going to do our first in store record signing, on Sunset at Licorice Pizza, a big store that turned into Aahs, a crap store. Anyway, after the gig, someone gave me some powerful LSD that I thought would be a good idea to take. It was horrible, and my last time ever with hallucinogenics! Doing an in store for hours when you are out of your tree on acid is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. I was up for days. There are some funny pictures. I will never forget it, either will the rest of the band, still makes us laugh.
BRAD: You gotta share those pictures. You wrote one of my favorite Go-Goís songs: ďCanít Stop the World.Ē Give us a little background on that tune.
KATHY: Itís one of the first songs I wrote when I moved to LA. I love its youthful optimism and message.
LUCY: Tell us a little about your other bands: Worldís Cutest Killers, The Delphines, The BlueBonnets, and KV and The Impossible ...
KATHY: WCK was with Kelly Johnson, RIP, from Girlschool. Lots of fun, but ultimately, didnít seem to catch anyoneís attention too much. The first BlueBonnets did catch attention, from the public and record companies, but we made personnel changes and screwed it up. I put it together to get my guitar playing together, which worked well. Still to this day one of my favorite musical experiences. The band evolved into a trio, the Delphines. Dominique Davalos and I had a great partnership for 9 years, I love the songs we wrote and what we accomplished. We have started working together again, in a new version of BlueBonnets that does a combo of tunes weíve written over the years. The Impossible, I put together to do solo shows when my CD Light Years came out. I had Clem Burke in it, Vicki Peterson, Abby Travis ... then in Austin I did a show with local well knowns, featuring everyone on singing and switching it up a bit. I played drums on a song, and that was the best.
BRAD: What kind of bass guitar or other guitars do you play and why.
KATHY: Fender Fender and Fender. P bass with Jazz neck, or now I have a cool red Jaguar bass. It matches the red Jag I drive! And Strats are the only guitar I am comfortable with, I like the tone and the feel on all these instruments is my ďwhy.Ē
LUCY: What does KV like to do when sheís not being a rock star?
KATHY: Regular mom and lady stuff. I help at my daughterís kindergarten class. Buy groceries. Run the household, get stuff fixed if itís broke, do errands. Go to the gym or run at Town Lake, or do a yoga class. A life of blessings and luxury! I spend hours in my studio now, nearly every day.
BRAD: Your ultimate Go-Goís moment and your favorite Go-Goís song:
KATHY: Playing Madison Square Garden, as the headliners, and having them put up the house lights during "We Got The Beat," and seeing thousands of people on their feet, dancing and having a great time. For some reason, it sunk in at that moment and stayed with me forever that I was a part of something incredible and magical and I felt like the luckiest person alive.
LUCY: Any new Go-Goís projects in the works?
KATHY: Unfortunately, nothing at all. We donít even have a show booked! I donít know if itís fizzled out and run its course or if we are just laying low! Weíre all busy, thatís for sure. I donít have a single favorite song by the Go-Goís. I like all the hits, like everyone else I guess. "This Town" is awesome, always. And "Skidmarks" and "Beatnik Beach" have bass parts that are fun to play, and perform on.
BRAD: The Go-Go's will never fizzle out on Mystery Island. Your favorite tune from Light Years and why?
KATHY: I like "Creation Myth" and "Bad Choice" because lyrically, they get across very abstract subjects that are difficult to write in a song. And "Retouch Me," because it sounds like something Blondie could have recorded.
LUCY: What/where is the best place to get great food in Austin, Texas?
KATHY: Depends if you want TexMex or BarBQ!
BRAD: What else is in the works with the kickass Kathy Valentine?
KATHY: I am producing a kickass record with a kickass band called Adrain and the Sickness. Adrian is a true guitar hero, and they are just great to work with. We are all very proud of what we are doing in the studio here. I have graduated to the point where I do all the engineering and recording, so I am happy to be taking my musical knowledge and experience to a new level.
Thanks for the interview!
BRAD/LUCY: Thank you so much! YOU ROCK!
KATHY VALENTINE WEBSITE ::
KATHY VALENTINE MYSPACE :: THE OFFICIAL GO-GO'S WEBSITE
ďKathy Valentine Interview" by Bradley Mason Hamlin and Lucy Hell.
© 2008 by Mystery Island Publications. Published: 11.27.08.
All rights reserved.
Photos of Kathy Valentine and/or The Go-Go's from the collection of Kathy Valentine.
MYSTERY ISLAND HOME :: MYSTERY ISLAND MUSIC ARCHIVE :: MYSTERY ISLAND MUSIC ON MYSPACE :: CONTACT