Episode 206: Kathy Valentine Pat chats with Kathy Valentine about her musical career from The Go-Go's to The Delphines to The Blue Bonnets and beyond. From June 25, 2015
With your host:
Pat welcomes us to the show. He and Kyle saw Whitesnake last night. If the audience was a band, they would be called Whitetrash. Quite a bit of people on the lower end of the socially pleasant spectrum, according to the Dodson Duo. But Whitesnake isn't the subject of today's show. We got a guest! She's best known as the former bassist for The Go-Go's, but she's also a guitarist and solo artist as well. It's Kathy Valentine!
Speaking of Whitesnake, Kathy has a first class airline menu signed by David Coverdale. She got it when she was flying first class with The Go-Go's and Whitesnake to Rock in Rio. There was a lot of mayhem down in Brazil, especially at the pool. Rod Stewart's band, The B-52's, Whitesnake, The Go-Go's: All getting high by the pool. Pat and Kathy both marvel at the amazing endurance of David Coverdale's hair.
Kathy grew up in Austin, Texas as an only child with a single mom. She dropped out of school at 9th grade and went to a hippie commune school where you could learn what you wanted. That was where Kathy first picked up a guitar. Then she went to England with her mom (who is English) and saw her idol Suzi Quatro on TV. She wanted to be a female rock star like Suzi. Pat notes that you don't really see a lot of new female guitarists out in the mainstream nowadays.
Kathy appreciates growing up in Austin because it introduced her to a lot of different genres like country, blues, and southern rock. Her dad and grandfather were musical as well; her dad played guitar and banjo, while her grandfather played violin and stand-up bass. Kathy played in a bunch of early bands. Her first all-female band was a trio. Then she went to England and played in a band with the girls who would eventually go on to form the heavy metal band Girlschool.
In London she lived in an area near a lot of other girl bands. She was only 17 at the time. Kathy taught them ZZ Top, they introduced her to Tom Petty. Unfortunately Kathy got sick and then got replaced in her pre-Girlschool band. Kathy moved back to America and started a punk band. That was the impetus to move to Los Angeles. The punk band immediately fell apart. Kathy and her bandmate Carla formed a new band called The Textones, which Kathy eventually left because there was no cohesion. Finally Kathy was approached to be the bassist for a band called The Go-Go's. Kathy just picked up the bass like it was nothing.
When Kathy joined The Go-Go's, the band was already picking up steam. Her first set of shows with them was a three-night sold out stint at the (appropriately named) Whiskey a Go Go. The band was very welcoming to her and Kathy enjoyed finally having a solid band. The night she played the sold out Whiskey, she could have stopped content right there. But the journey just kept getting bigger and bigger.
After getting rejected by every label, The Go-Go's signed with IRS Records in April 1981. Kathy was on cloud nine: $40 a week plus unemployment and not having to pay rent. Then the band went to New York City to record their debut album Beauty and the Beat. It was Kathy's first time in a proper recording studio. She wanted one of her songs on the record and she got it. Kathy is very grateful to have a song on the first album. Pat plays the song, "Can't Stop the World".
Beauty and the Beat had two Top 40 singles, including a Top 5 single, and sold 2 million copies. The band went on a club headlining tour. Their stock kept rising. It was the little things like getting rid of the van and getting more hotel rooms. The next year the band put out Vacation. The title track video was all over MTV. Kathy co-wrote the song back when she was still in The Textones. Making the album was a harder process because there was a lack of songs and a lack of time. Kathy notes that making the music videos was long and boring. To pass the time the band turned to alcohol and cocaine. Boredom + The 80s = Party Time.
Pat plays another song from the second album that Kathy co-wrote called "We Don't Get Along". Pat questions Kathy about giving songwriting credit to Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin for the song "Vacation." Kathy reminisces how the press lauded Jane and Charlotte writing the hit songs on the first album. For "Vacation," Kathy felt a little bit insecure about it, so fine-tuning the song with Charlotte and Jane and giving them credit gave the song some legitimacy. Kathy knows that the song is always going to be her song. And the residuals are always nice to get.
In 1984 the third album Talk Show comes out. They worked with producer Martin Rushent (Buzzcocks, The Human League, The Stranglers) and they wanted a different sound. Kathy has five songwriting credits, plus she plays some lead guitar on a few of the songs. Pat plays the lead single "Head over Heels". By this time, the band was a horrible mess. Burnout, drugs, alcohol, and ego had eviscerated their spirit from the inside out.
All Kathy wants at this point is to keep the band running and contain the madness for the sake of the music. Jane left, so they decided to move Kathy to guitar and hire a new bass player. Then it was off to Rio (as things come full circle). Charlotte went to rehab and got sober. This is where the wheels finally came off the Go-Go's train. Charlotte and Belinda decided to work on Belinda's solo album, so Kathy and Gina were dismissed and the band was done. There was a short reunion in 1990. Kathy got sober and mended bridges with Charlotte. The band put out a greatest hits album and did a benefit show. Then they reunited again in 1994 for another greatest hits album called Return to the Valley of The Go-Go's. Unfortunately this ended rather quickly when Gina decided to sue the band. The way it worked was you would get a certain percentage for songs that you didn't write. Once the band broke up, the percentages stopped coming. Gina sued the band for those percentages. Pat plays one of the new songs from the 1994 greatest hits album called "The Whole World Lost Its Head".
The turn of the century brought about The Go-Go's Part Deux. In 2001 they released their fourth album God Bless The Go-Go's. Kathy is not a fan of the album title or the album artwork. Pat plays the opening track "La La Land". The band brought on a lot of guest writers like Billie Joe Armstrong, Jim Vallance, and Susanna Hoffs.
Pat plays another song off the album called "Apology". After the album came out, The Go-Go's went on sporadic tours for the next decade. Then in 2012 Kathy broke her wrist. This was the spark that lit the powder keg to her leaving the band again, but Kathy felt like she already had a target on her back for a few years. Kathy says that resentments ruin bands. Always. It got very cliquey. At one point, Belinda quit.
There was a constant struggle to get along. When Kathy broke her wrist, she knew she was in trouble. She calls it her "hand of fate" because this was 3 days before rehearsal. Kathy notes that when there is a lot of dysfunction in a group, the only way to get along is gang up. Kathy even did a Twitter memoir to "pull back the curtain," but subsequently took it down. Things got ugly.
Kathy got tired of playing the same songs over and over again. The band asked her to leave The Go-Go's, then they decided to make a new deal that would keep Kathy from getting future royalties for her songs. Kathy sued them to stop that from happening (the new deal, not leaving the band). Everything worked out in the end. In between the two big Go-Go's runs, Kathy was in a band called The Delphines with singer Dominique Davalos. Pat saw them play in a small club on Melrose in the 90s. He plays a song from their self-titled debut album called "I Want You the Way I Want You Not How You Are". Dominique is a great singer and Kathy wanted to sing with her the minute he saw her.
Pat plays another song off the first Delphines album called "Down Underground". A few years later The Delphines put out their second album Cosmic Speed. Pat plays the opening track "Carboy". He urges people to buy these albums. Pat plays one final Delphines song, the title track "Cosmic Speed". Clem Burke plays on a few tracks. Kathy enjoys going back and mining a few of these tracks to play live in front of an audience.
Kathy released a solo album Light Years in 2005. Does she mind singing? Kathy says she can carry a tune, but can't carry a whole set. She enjoyed doing the solo album because she didn't have to run any of her ideas through a whole committee to see them through. Pat plays the song "Getting By". Kathy recorded the album while pregnant. Pat plays another song off the solo album called "Light Years".
In 2010 Kathy and Dominique released an album under the name of The Bluebonnets called Boom Boom Boom Boom. The two originally formed the band back in the 90s, which eventually morphed into The Delphines. Kathy wanted to go back to her guitar roots. Pat plays a song from the album called "Can't Stop the Honey". The Bluebonnets are on tour and they recently played with The Waterboys. Recently they released an album called Play Loud which brought them to a new level. Pat plays a song from the new album called "Psychometer".
You can find The Bluebonnets on Facebook HERE. You can also go to Kathy's website KathyValentine.com. Pat plays another song off the new album called "Dig Me Out". Kathy realizes that Pat picked the songs that every radio guy picks to play. Good on you, Pat. Not only is Kathy a musician, but she's also a public speaker. She's done keynote speeches for various people and companies including giving an award to her idol Suzie Quatro.
Thank you very much to Kathy Valentine for being on the show. If you want to catch her on Twitter, you can click-clack on the keyboard to @Kathy_Valentine. Pat ends the show with a song from The Bluebonnets called "Treat Her Right".