- Great interview, Evan.
Kathy, I loved your book, and there are a couple Austin-related questions I wanted to talk about.
The pool hall you used to go to, which I passed by on the way here, is now a thrift shop.
I stopped by, and one of the ladies who's working there loves your music, and somebody gave her your autograph, which I thought was pretty cool.
And Mrs Johnson's Donuts, which you also like to go to, is around the corner from me.
And they've been closed until just recently, and they're reopening again.
Have you had a chance to go back yet?
- [Kathy] No.
I don't eat many donuts these days.
(audience laughing) - [Evan] Well, that's obviously the headline from this interview.
(audience laughing) - [Kathy] No, no.
But I'm glad that the lawyers is now a thrift store, 'cause for a long time it was one of those paramilitary, crazy militia places, I think.
- [Evan] Do you feel, as somebody who lives here, do you feel a sense of the way the city is changing, or has changed?
- [Kathy] Well, it's interesting-- - [Evan] Because reading this book reminded me of a time that is very much not the Austin of now.
- [Kathy] Well, now that you say that, I was asked by Texas Highways to do an essay, and I've been like, "What am I...?"
And I finally came up with it on the way here, is what I wanna write about, is how the places that go away that you grew up with, it's kinda like a piece of you goes away.
It's almost like, it feels like, it's like, I don't know.
I don't know how...
I gotta get it on the page, but yeah, it's very, very...
But it's also, you know, it feels like it's kind of erasable and replaceable, 'cause once it's gone... You don't know how many times I would play at Threadgill's, and look across the street at Hooters and go, "Why the heck do we have a Hooters in the middle of the city?"
Everybody else puts 'em on the outskirts, you know, (audience laughing) but ours is right here.
And now it's gone, and there's a big building.
And I'm like, I'm all for it.
- [Evan] And Threadgill's is gone, yeah.
No, no, it's definitely a different place from 1978, the last time you, you know, when you moved out to LA.
- Oh, I've been watching, yeah.
Thanks for your question, Dan.
- [Evan] Hi.
- Hello, Kathy.
- (chuckling) It's your old friend, Bevis.
- [Kathy] Yeah.
- So I wanted to first of all thank you, and congratulate you on all of your international success.
But I would like for you to maybe share with the audience a little bit about our early days together during the Raul's era with your band, The Violators, and to tell a little bit more about Carla Olson and her role in The Textones.
Because the idea that the Go-Go's, obviously, they evolved and rose to international prominence.
It's really important to illuminate the fact that none of these things happened in a vacuum.
So my first, I'm six years older than Kathy.
I'm gonna be 70 next week, as a matter of fact.
And we met initially in 1979, the way that I recall.
And my understanding was that I met you through Carla.
And Carla Olsen was a tremendous-- - [Evan] And Carla's a big character in this book.
- She was a tremendous guitarist.
- [Kathy] Yeah, my book is very, very explicit about, number one, that the men musicians, when I was writing it, I was so pleased.
All of a sudden, I saw this pattern.
Every guy musician was so supportive, you know, whether it was you or Jesse Sublett, or Eddie, The Skunks, and Jimmie Vaughan.
And Doug Saum invited me on stage when I was 16.
And so I loved putting that in my book and writing about Carla.
And Carla and I are gonna reunite for a show in Los Angeles, a benefit for autism on May 19, and I'm so excited to play with her again.
- It's been a while.
But yeah, my book is very explicit about my early days, and I certainly don't ever act like it happened in a vacuum.
It was because of the people around me that supported me, and my mom, you know, that I was able to have the-- - I just vividly remember me and Eddie helping to pack up your U-Haul trailer, and driving you guys all the way out to Los Angeles.
- Oh, maybe you drove someone else's.
Mine was in my Delta '88.
(laughing) - [Bevis] No, I'm just saying-- - Piled up to the back of my head.
- It was the weekend that we drove Carla's stuff all the way out there.
- Yeah, Carla's stuff.
- So we had big fun out there.
But you were a tremendous little rock and roller when I first met you, you know, and I was just a little bit more interested in the story where you were in England.
The way I understood it, you had auditioned for Girlschool, which was an all-female heavy metal band.
Could you tell us a little bit about that?
- Well, it's all in my book.
I mean, I'd love to talk about it, about everything.
I could just read the book, (audience laughing) but we'd be here a long time.
But yeah, that was a, I mean, every step of the way was just kind of like, I kinda thought, hey, if it stops here, all good.
And it just never did stop, until it stopped.
(laughing) - Thank you very much.
- Yeah, thank you so much, Bevis.
- But of course, even after the Go-Go's, you played in the-- - I never stopped playing in a band.
- Bluebonnets and The Delphines.
and you had a solo record.
You continued to play.
- I'm always in a band.
I'm always making music.
I always will.
Except, in COVID, I wasn't in a band.
That was the first time.
But I was making videos and writing songs.
I just love it.
I love making music.
- Kathy, it's good to see you.
My name's Steve Habit, and you have been part of the lexicon of my life for, I'm a year older than you are.
I've always enjoyed your work, and I just wanna say, when I was on deployment, we had a group of us, I went when I was 50, and we were all late forties, early fifties.
There was five of us.
And we had our little Go-Go's club.
(audience tittering) One of my guys actually had a signed poster from you all, had his dad send it, and we had it on the wall.
And it helped get us through the day.
You go up there, and we'd see everybody, all five of you, signatures were up there.
And just a wonderful, wonderful.
I've loved y'all's work.
I listen to y'all still several times a month.
And it's just good to see you out here.
And like you say, there are days when I feel like I'm still 30, you know?
(audience laughing) It's a, "What?"
- [Kathy] As long as you're not on the floor, trying to get up, right?
- There you go.
I'm not ready for this yet, you know?
But I just want to thank you so much, and for y'all just being out here and do what you've done.
And your success and everything has been well-deserved, and I congratulate you.
- Oh, thank you so much.
- I have one question.
- Oh, okay.
- What gets you up in the morning?
- What gets me up in the morning?
- Feeding the pets.
(audience laughing) - Me too.
Well, thank you.
- It's a literal answer.
Pretty good, actually.
- Hi, Kathy.
- Lauded author, Kathy.
I wanted to ask a little bit about your writing life.
I'm enjoying your Substack account, and I really loved that you said you started it a lot to just, to keep the writing going, that you have more books in you.
And so could you talk a little bit about your daily writing practice, or your writing practice?
How you keep writing in your routine, or-- - Yeah, I think every writer gets, the first thing they realize is that they have to find a process that they'll stick with.
And I was, the minute I wrote that book, it stops at age 30, and I always knew I was gonna write a second book.
But I didn't wanna seem like a one-trick pony, so I wanted to do a collection of literary short stories.
And I started writing short stories, and then I got a lot of fear about whether I was good at it, 'cause I'm still trying to deal with this perfectionist nature that I have.
Also, being of an age, like, "Hey, I do a lot of things well.
I don't need to toil away at something I'm not good at at this age."
If I was 30 or 40, there's time to get better.
So I got insecure about whether my short stories and my fiction was any good.
So then I thought, "Well, I'll apply to an MFA program, and that'll tell me if I'm good."
So I applied to one, Iowa Writer's Workshop.
(chuckling) It's only the hardest one to get into.
Didn't get in, and my confidence plunged.
So then I was not writing much.
- This is in the last couple years.
- Oh yeah, this is in the last year.
I mean, who applies to one MFA program that's the hardest one?
But of course, you're you.
It's their loss.
- Well, it's like, then I would know I was good, if I got in.
But it's just so black-and-white and ridiculous.
So I was kinda struggling with my writing, like, "Why am I not writing?"
And I had wanted to start a Substack, but I was again, like, "Who's gonna read it?"
And then I'd think like, "Well, I sold a lot of books.
Maybe they would read it."
And then I'm like, "Well, what if I don't have something to say?"
And I thought, "Well, you write lyrics and poems, and you can do other things.
It doesn't have to be a brilliant essay."
So I got over that fear, and it's been the best thing.
It's given me an accountability, it's kept me writing, it's been good for my confidence.
People enjoy it.
And I still wanna write a second memoir, I still wanna write a collection of literary short stories.
And I hope there's time.
I wanna do all.
But, you know, I also like to write songs.
And my big struggle is I get up and I kind of flit around.
I sit in my studio and I make music, and then I go like, "Well, I better work.
Oh, Texas Highways might give me a job.
And, "Oh, I'd better do my Substack."
And I'm like, I literally float around, just trying to get something done every day.
Thank you for asking.
- Thank you, Kathy.
- In your face, Iowa.
That would be my response, right?
It turns out you didn't need 'em.
- So the second memoir thing, this was actually, again, despite awful timing to publish a book, March of 2020, this book was a big success.
And it was extremely well reviewed.
In addition to selling a bunch of copies, it also was well thought of.
Surely there are people who would love to publish the second memoir.
But see, I had the most ideal scenario you could possibly hope for.
I wrote my book knowing it was gonna get published.
So you don't know how hard it is to write, not knowing if anyone's gonna read it.
Music's different, because you're so in the moment, and you're making something that is so fun.
And writing's, it's not that it's not fun, but it's more fun knowing that someone's gonna read it.
So I had the best scenario.
University of Texas Press was amazing.
They gave me a book deal, and now I have to do that whole thing that most writers have to do, where I have to submit a proposal, and maybe a manuscript, and then get turned down and all that stuff.
And I'll do it, I'll get to it.
But I would love to have-- - It's a pretty good ad, though, for the next book.
- That's true.
The first book.
- Yeah, yeah.
- Hey, Kathy, I'm Ken Wilson.
And just like you were saying that a little piece of you kinda dies when a part of Austin dies, in that same vein, I was thinking about how, I grew up in Gadsden, Alabama.
There was nothing to do.
We would have to drive an hour to go to concerts and everything else.
And we were known for nothing, except for Beyonce's daddy was from there, until I found out the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Wage Act was passed by a lady in Gadsden, Alabama.
I'm sure every woman knows about that equal pay.
So kudos for Gadsden for that.
But in the same vein, living in a city like Austin, where there's just cool people like you and McConaughey, and everything that makes this city great, it's disheartening to find out that you're-- - My pal.
(laughing) - You're going overseas and you're leaving us, after, I guess after ZACH Theater.
But I wish you all the best in England.
And my heart hurts a little that you're going overseas, but I'm happy you're pursuing your journey.
My question to you is, so Evan was saying that you took some of the songs, the most famous hits from the Go-Go's.
Had you written that with another band you had started, or you were just kinda working on it by yourself?
Tell me a little bit more about those hits that you were writing.
- So "Vacation" and "Can't Stop the World" we're both with The Textones first?
- Yeah, I wrote 'em on my own, and then I had a band called The Textones, and we recorded them.
We got a little record deal, even.
So when the Go-Go's asked me to join, this is one thing I was...
I wanted it to be in the band really bad, but I also knew what was what, and I said, "I will only join if I can be one of the songwriters."
And I meant it, because I just didn't want to be in a band where I didn't get to participate in that.
And they were really happy to have another writer.
So the first album, it's a cliche you hear a lot in music, that a band has their whole career to write their first album and six months to write their second album.
And that's why you hear about the sophomore slump.
So when we got to our second record, all the good songs had been put on the first album, and there was not a lot of material, and we were also rushing it.
Again, I really pull the covers back in this book.
I really show people what it's like, the machinations of being in a band, and the mistakes, and the poor judgments, and this and that.
But we rushed into our second album, and we needed songs, and I'm like, "I got some."
(audience tittering) - Were those songs, like "Vacation" and everything, were they finished?
Were they already written once you joined the band?
- They were finished, but I showed it to Charlotte.
And we were doing it on our very first tour.
There's videos on YouTube of us doing "Vacation" before we recorded it.
And she said, "I think we should work on the chorus together a little bit."
So we did.
And I write a lot about "Vacation" in there.
There's some juicy stuff in there about that.
I'm not trying to pitch my book, I swear, but it's like, it's all, it's got everything.
- But you also wrote "Head Over Heels", right?
- Yeah, I wrote "Head Over Heels", two of our hits.
And then our biggest hit in England came out on a album in 1995 called "Return to the Valley of The Go-Go's".
And we did four new songs.
And one that I wrote with Jane was our biggest hit in England, called "The Whole World Lost Its Head".
- Well, thank you, and thank you for setting off a theme.
Every time all of us go on vacation, we put that on the radio-- - Thank God.
- and we head outta town.
- You know, when the pandemic happened and our tour got canceled, I was like, "Oh my God!".
Because I'm like, when we're gonna go on tour, I'm like, "Woo-hoo!"
And I'm just like, 'cause I think I'm gonna get a paycheck.
So I start like, "Woo-oo!"
And then it gets canceled, and I'm like, "Oh God."
But "Vacation" got placed in "Spider-Man" that year, and I was like, "Whew!"
The song, it was like, saved my ass.
(audience laughing) Saved my ass.
- It's what happens, right?
Well, it doesn't happen when you don't need it.
This is one thing I've noticed.
It happens when you do need it.
It happens when you're not desperate.
- It happens when you don't need it.
Yeah, when I got married and was okay financially, all this stuff started happening, like touring, song placements.
But before that, when I was horrified, spending all my savings and my retirement, nothing happened.
- I have to believe that there's a bunch of corporate interest in your songs all these years later, still.
Why is Airbnb not licensing "Vacation" for all their commercials?
(audience laughing) Maybe we should go to them, actually.
Wait, I'll get Brian Chesky on the phone right now.
Let's actually get him on the phone right now.
We can make a deal on this stage.
- No, I have to, and you can't pretend like you don't care.
You have to really not care.
You have to really be not desperate at all, and then it happens.
It's a rule of the universe.
(audience clapping) - [Evan] Give Kathy a big hand.