Cambridge: Corn Exchange bound Belinda Carlisle on why she’s never been happier
“I’m really, really happy where I’m at. I was on a hamster wheel from the age of 17 to 40 really. It was a great time but also a lot of pressure too. I’m no longer in that position anymore and I’m quite happy not to be,” laughs Belinda Carlise.
She spent several years with history-making rock band The Go-Go’s, the only all-female band to write their own songs and play their own instruments to top the American Billboard album charts; and her solo career spans three decades.
However, the singer admits she never really quite accepted it was what she was meant to be doing for a living until around nine years ago.
“There are a lot of years of not really being able to fully accept the good coming my way; that kind of tied into my career and everything. It probably was when I got sober I thought ‘oh my God this is what I’m meant to be doing, this is it’.
“A lot of the insecurity I had through the years while I was doing this kind of faded by the wayside. Now I can say that’s what I’ve been meant to be doing all along and it’s an amazing way to be able to make a living and bring joy into people’s lives.”
Carlise who plays Cambridge Corn Exchange on Tuesday, May 20, was never one to look more than six months ahead at a time when starting out with The Go-Go’s in the 1970s.
“We had that arrogance of youth and felt we were entitled to be the biggest band in the world. I think because of our attitude we weren’t proficient players, that sort of attitude took us to learning how to play our instruments to being the number one band in America within three years (without) a Simon Fuller or Simon Cowell, this was like totally organic.”
The Go-Go’s self-destructing within three years of being number one didn’t come as a surprise.
“The few of us who were drug addicts in the band probably would always been drug addicts, but being able to have the money to indulge that addiction... the destruction came a lot quicker than it normally would. I think just being that young, that famous, having that much money and no responsibilities, there’s not really any healthy way to handle that kind of thing.
“You throw that in with being a rock star, being arrogant, feeling like you’re immortal which you do when you’re young, you don’t think about those kind of things, it was a recipe for disaster actually, it was a disaster. I think a lot of that contributed to the end of the band.”
Still touring the States together every summer, it’s a very different atmosphere now.
“Oh yeah, I mean we still know how to push each other’s buttons and everything,” she laughs. “We’re not colleagues, we’re family. We’ve basically grown up together and been around each other for 38 years.”
As far as her solo career’s concerned, Carlisle, who’s sold more than 8million records around the world, including more than 3m in the UK alone, feels really lucky that she’s been able to always kind of wing it.
Recent months have seen the release of delux versions of several of her albums and two greatest hits - The Collection and The Anthology - both of which boast her first new tracks in a while.
“The last time I was in the studio was for a friend seven years ago. I do studio work now and again... I had no intention really of doing any new material because I haven’t really felt inspired to do so. I’ve done great pop music, to do something (new) it would have to be really, unbelievably special and on a par with my old stuff.
“It’s hard to come across music like that. Usually those kind of songs go to the top artists in the world. I recognise that and I am what I am and I’m quite happy where I am by the way,” she laughs.
She was impressed by Sun, penned by newcomer Gabe Lopez with long-time Go-Go’s guitarist Jane Wiedlin, which came via a friend of Carlise’s son; and Goodbye Just Go which was composed by Ellen Shipley who, along with Rick Nowels, wrote many of the classics contained on The Collection like Heaven is a Place on Earth and Circle in the Sand.
“I thought they weres just as good as my earlier hits so I made an exception and recorded both. I think since the earlier times of recording those pop hits I’m a better and more confident singer so it was relatively easy and it was very exciting being in the studio.”
Responsibile for some of the biggest pop anthems ever, it was a lot of pressure.
“No question; I’m very choosy because I’ve been there and done that, I’m usually looking for other things... my French album (Voila) wasn’t at all commercial, it wasn’t intended to be and I don’t really want to work with that kind of pressure anymore.
“I just want to do things from the heart, do things out of love and not have to worry about whether it’s going to sell or not. I’m lucky enough to be at that position where I do get interest in doing projects that aren’t so commercial and able to have fun with it.”
Carlise’s looking forward to her Cambridge Corn Exchange gig, one of only six UK dates this year. She hasn’t played this country for nine years, spending most of her time doing short sets at festivals.
“It’s very exciting for me. I think fans will enjoy it because in a festival situation you don’t get to do a lot of the more obscure hits. They’re probably going to hear everything they want to hear within reason. All the hits, of course; a lot of the songs that were minor hits like Summer Rain, La Luna, a couple of Go-Go’s songs and the new material. It’s a pretty long show actually, a lot of stuff.”
For more details about the new releases, visit www.belindacarlisle.tv