The Go-Go's head to OC Fair with a new beat and big plans

Top secret: The Go-Go's drummer, Gina Schock, has never taken a music lesson in her life.

At 13, Schock chose to play the drums for a simple reason.

"It felt very easy and comfortable," the 54-year-old musician said.

She saved up her allowance to buy the needed components for a drum set, and the neighbors in her hometown of Baltimore didn't mind hearing the banging, smashing and crashing.

"I'd keep the bay windows open, and neighbors would walk by and say, 'Oh, that's Gina playing music,'" she said. "They were fascinated."

On Friday night, Schock will be bringing a newer and improved drum set to her performance at the OC Fair's Pacific Amphitheatre. She favors drums constructed by Drum Workshop Inc., a line used by drummers for Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and Avril Lavigne.

That new equipment will give Schock and bandmates Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey an extra kick when they return to the Costa Mesa amphitheater, where they last played a year ago.

Schock, who drummed for the all-woman rock band from 1979 until its breakup in 1985, returned in 1990 when the group re-formed.

"I just love being in this band," Schock said. "It's been such a great ride, and it's still going."

Known for a powerful pop sound and hits like "We Got the Beat," "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "Vacation," the Go-Go's topped the U.S. charts for six weeks in 1982 and were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

The group produced the 1984 album "Talk Show," featuring the tracks "Head Over Heels" and "Turn to You," both of which became Top 40 hits. Critics praised the album, but it didn't sell as well as the previous two and missed the top 10.

Tension brewed within the band because of personality conflicts and creative differences. Wiedlin left the group in October 1984 and was replaced by Paula Jean Brown as the new bassist, with Kathy Valentine moving to rhythm guitar. Carlisle and Caffey recognized their passion wasn't in the music and decided to disband in May 1985.

But in 1990, Caffey, Carlisle, Schock, Valentine and Wiedlin reunited to play a benefit concert for the California Environmental Protection Act. The band scheduled more concert dates that year and rerecorded "Cool Jerk" with producer David Z for a greatest-hits disc. In 2001, the Go-Go's collaborated with Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and co-wrote the single "Unforgiven," which peaked at No. 57.

Friday's show will include favorites and newer material.

"The ones we haven't played are always fun," she said.

Among the list is "La La Land," off the 2001 album "God Bless the Go-Go's." Also scheduled is the breakup song "Insincere."

The group's summer tour dates close Saturday with a performance in Rancho Mirage. But there's no rest for the four.

The Go-Go's announced the premiere of their musical "Head Over Heels" as part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2015 season. The world premiere features a book by Tony winner Jeff Whitty and the music of the Go-Go's.

"We're pretty excited about that," Schock said. "I'm almost speechless. I can't believe we're doing a musical."

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow will collaborate on the theatrical production. The musical is based on the life and music of the Los Angeles-based band.

Schock and her bandmates are experimenting next month in the studio with songwriter and producer Linda Perry, a first-time collaboration for all. Perry has written hit songs for several other successful female singers, including Christina Aguilera (the worldwide hit "Beautiful") and Gwen Stefani ("What You Waiting For?").

"Hopefully, the chemistry will be great," Schock said. "Linda is such a talent and also such a sweetheart. I feel super lucky, and we'll do great."

For now, Schock anticipates tuning her pedals and sitting behind her drum set to perform at the Pacific Amphitheatre.

"It's a good show. We're pretty badass on stage," she said before letting out a laugh. "When we play live, we go back to our punk roots."

If You Go

Who: The Go-Go's

Where: Pacific Amphitheatre, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa

When: 8:15 p.m. Friday

Cost: Tickets start at $25.50


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