Believe it or not, there was a time when everyone didn't walk around with a camera in their pocket, ready to document every meal, party or concert attended.
That makes the people who did chronicle that pre-iPhone era all the more important as amateur historians, eyewitnesses to things like the birth of punk rock or the explosion of '80s pop music in all its cocaine-fueled, neon-colored garishness.
Go-Go's drummer Gina Schock grew up at the intersection of punk and pop, and was packing a little point-and-shoot camera until she could afford a "real" one. She's collected hundreds of those pictures, tracing her and her bandmates' journey from scrappy club upstarts to arena-filling Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, in a new book called Made in Hollywood: All Access with the Go-Go's.
"There's three things in life that always appealed to me," Schock explains via phone, sporting a thick Baltimore accent that lingers even after decades in Los Angeles. "It was photography, old films, and it was music. I loved all of them in a major, major way. So I was always carrying around a little clunky Instamatic."
Made in Hollywood spans Schock's entire life, but primarily focuses on her years on stage behind the drums. Those started when she first toured as part of a punk band backing John Waters's infamous Pink Flamingos "Egg Lady" Edith Massey, and continued into divey L.A. clubs before the Go-Go's hit it big in the early '80s. Thanks to Schock's photographic habit, the book holds intimate shots of friends and tourmates like the Police, X, Joan Jett and David Bowie, as well as nonrockers the Go-Go's met like Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash. When we talked, Schock had just added another new famous friend to her collection at the Go-Go's Hall of Fame induction: Sir Paul McCartney.
Schock originally intended Made in Hollywood to be a coffee-table book, all photos and little in the way of stories. But her publisher pushed her to add context, and Schock went to work telling the tales beyond the lens.
"I'm not really a writer," Schock says, "but when I started looking at these photographs, it became so apparent that I could write about them. You look at them, and you remember everything that was happening at that very moment in time. And the stories just pour out."
She's not alone in telling that story. Longtime friends like Jodie Foster, the B-52s' Kate Pierson, and Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) contributed their own memories to the book, as did all of her fellow Go-Go's, who she's been playing with on and off for more than 40 years.
The Go-Go's are touring again in 2022, celebrating their recent accolades and perhaps inspiring another photo book from Schock down the line. She's got plenty of material to work with after nearly a half-century of taking pictures.
"They're in drawers, under the bed, everywhere, you name it," Schock says. "I really need to write another one because I have a ton more photographs. I have so many more photos that y'all haven't seen." ♦
DRUMMER ASKS DRUMMERYou might know Cameron Smith as the excellent drummer for local bands Fun Ladies and Silver Treason, for her 30-plus years playing in the Northwest, or even from her role as a Spokane social worker. But you might not know Smith is a serious Go-Go's and Gina Schock fan. We did, so we had Cameron send some questions for us to ask one of her earliest beat-keeping influences. Responses have been edited for length and clarity:
SMITH: What was the first time you could envision yourself as the drummer in a band?
Schock: That was when I picked up drumsticks and I put headphones on and I decided to play drums! I just knew I wanted to play drums. That was it. I just knew I was gonna play drums. I'm gonna play drums. I know it. I love it. I feel it. It speaks to me. It's who I am.
Have you ever written a part that you later regretted because you had to keep playing it?
No, no, never. Anything I have ever written, I've refined it over and over and over until it is what I love. And if I don't love it, I don't play it, man. That's what it is. I refine that shit.
Do you have a favorite Go-Go's song to play?
No, I love all the beats I come up with. They all make sense, and they're all about elevating the song. They're not about drumbeats, they're about what I can give to the song to elevate that song and make it better, and make that song shine. Whatever those beats are, they're all about the song, babe.
Do you have any kind of a pre-show ritual you always have before a show?
I meditate a little bit. I get my calves and arms massaged, and my neck and my shoulders, I get them massaged about a half-hour before the show. I get a practice pad out and start doing my rudiments on the pad, just to loosen up so when you walk on stage you don't freeze up. Because I'm a nervous Nellie, and I just need to loosen up before I go on stage and feel comfortable so I don't tighten up.
What's the longest you can go without playing before you get cranky or weird?
It's right now! I haven't played in years, and I'm freaking out. But now I'm back into it. ♦