Belinda Carlisle’s New Show is Heaven on Earth: Apparently, it’s not enough for Belinda Carlisle to be a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer with new-wave glass ceiling smashers the Go-Go’s and to have a stellar solo career. No, our Belinda is now running one of the coolest shows on SiriusXM. That’s just greedy.
We kid, of course. Carlisle hasn’t gotten as far as she has by playing it safe. She was the drummer for the Germs before she was in the Go-Go’s, and when the world thought it knew her, she went pop. Again, everyone thought they had a finger on her, and she released an album of French music, then another of yoga chants. Belinda Carlisle does whatever she wants. That said, this new show was actually Sirius’ idea.
“It was a big surprise to me,” Carlisle says. “I’d never thought about doing anything like this and then when it was presented to me, it sounded kinda hard. Then the conversation got going and I thought yeah, it sounds like fun. It’s 12 shows over the course of a year and I’ve put together the first nine. It’s really fun. I’ve learned so much, actually. I have to keep within certain guidelines, but there’s tons of material and the hard part of actually being DJ. Curating the lists and putting together things for shows has been a blast.”
The show is called Mad About Music, and each week Carlisle tackles a different theme. The first one, fittingly, sees the host take on early punk/pop. So we get Iggy & the Stooges, Blondie, Roxy Music and much more.
“The first three I recorded at the same time,” she says. “I didn’t know what to expect so I wasn’t as prepared as I was after that. I knew what to expect after the first three. Now I have notes. I really think about the little stories that I have. I have lots of stories, believe me. I’ve found my feet now, so I kinda know what to do. The first three I had no idea. But it sounds OK. I was like, oh no, when it came out, what’s it going to sound like? But it was actually OK.”
What you don’t hear on the first show is Carlisle’s old band, the Germs. “It’s easy on the ears at first,” she says. “I will be doing a hardcore punk thing, too. That’s where I came from.”
That’s certainly a show we’d tune into. And there’s much more to come.
“Today I’m working on cover songs, which is really interesting to do because a lot of people have covered some interesting songs,” she says. “I have that, then love songs and heartbreak songs, which are really fun to put together. My favorite lists are the Guilty Pleasures. My last one is Mixed Bag – I have some Mott the Hoople in there, and some things that I hope that people will discover. Some of this music that came out of, especially the late ‘70s, that really is kinda forgotten. I put in my Mott the Hoople, and it was so great. It was just before the punk movement. I love showing people old Bowie, old Roxy Music, and things that really inspired me to do what I want to do.”
Whether this is a long-term project or something that she wants to get out of her system (which is how she describes the aforementioned French and yoga albums) remains to be seen. She says that she’ll see how it goes.
“I guess it depends on whether Sirius likes it or not, and what the response has been,” she says. “I have no idea. I guess we’ll know in a year from now, and then what I would love to do is go into punk and inspiration like Serge Gainsbourg who was really the first punk. When you think about where he came from and what he was doing in the early and mid-sixties, that was total punk rock. Americans don’t really know about him. Brits do. But I’d love to introduce the audience to people like that who are really influential and they don’t even really know about them.”
Frankly, that’s fucking awesome. Yes, “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “Runaway Horses” are perfect pop songs. The fact that Carlisle is determined to use her lofty musical position to introduce people to new things, whether that be through this show or her own albums, is hugely impressive. On the French album, Voila, she had a blast making it.
“I thought, no one’s going to hear this, so I can do whatever I want,” she says. “Not a lot of people heard it, but the people who heard it do love it. But it didn’t really matter to me because it was the first time I was really off the treadmill I had been on for years and years and years. I didn’t want to be on that treadmill anymore, I just wanted to work from my heart and not feel under pressure. It was a great experience.”
As for Wilder Shores, her album of largely Sikh chants, she says, “I chant every day. I get up at 4 a.m., and I chant. So I got that out of my system, and the fans were like ‘Oh my god, would you just please do an English pop album?’ So I’m doing that now, and I also have material coming out with Diane Warren. So I’ve gone full circle back to the classic pop song, which will be out next year.”
Carlisle will be performing at the Saban on Thursday, a rare SoCal solo show for the local star.
“I haven’t done any solo shows here since maybe 2012, maybe longer,” she says. “It’s been a long time, and most of my touring and dates are done in the UK and Europe. It’s going to be all my classic stuff, it’s going to draw from all of my albums. Of course, people will expect a few Go-Go’s songs, too.
She’s back in the UK and then Australia next year – plenty of touring. And then she’s determined to take next summer off. Let’s be perfectly honest – she deserves a break.
Belinda Carlisle’s New Show is Heaven on Earth: Belinda Carlisle’s Mad About Music show can be heard now on Sirius XM’s 1st Wave (ch. 33) .
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