10 Questions With Go Go Gadjet
Go Go Gadjet is one of State College’s most successful cover bands. They have performed everywhere from Indigo, to Levels, to their current weekly Wednesday show at the Phyrst, but they have gained huge notoriety in the Penn State community for being the final act THON weekend. The energy that the band brings to their performances is indisputable, but what is it like to be on stage?
We sat down with Go Go Gadjet for 10 questions on everything from life as a band to performing at THON to their famous “power hours.”
Onward State: If you could do anything besides perform, what would you want to do and why?
Go Go Gadjet: Nate: I feel like I would like to get into the food business somehow. Maybe be a chef or just cook or somewhere, that would be fun. Or treework. That’s it.
Chris: Honestly I would probably pursue my career in art.
Jeff: That’s a good answer!
Chris: Yeah, but I kinda got away from it because I have been performing.
Jeff: If I wasn’t performing music I think I would still be involved in music somehow. Honestly I would probably go into lighting design. I would probably go into light design for other acts because I get enjoyment out of that. Also, working on the (band’s) product and making it better. Advising other bands on how to make their product better. How many times did I say better? That is awesome. More better.
Mike: Dog grooming would be pretty interesting. Grooming dogs. I’m good with poodles.
Nate: Digging holes.
Mike: I would dig holes and then fill them
(Insert here a conversation between myself and the band about the movie Holes and Shia LeBouf.)
OS: Jeff, you went to Penn State, what advice would you give to this year’s freshman class?
GGG: This sounds so adult and grown up, but like, get involved in as many things as you can. Obviously you are here to go to class and learn — do well in class but also join groups and meet people to make connections with people that you will have later on. Gain knowledge. Join something. There is a croquet team here for god’s sake. Join that!
Also, be young with your friends and make bad decisions while you are at it. Just, do stuff. It is easy sometimes when it’s cold outside to fall in the trap of just hanging out here because this campus is long and hard to walk. It is terrible to walk to the Forum when it is seven degrees outside, but get involved!
OS: How often do you learn new songs?
GGG: We try to learn three songs every week because one to two of them aren’t going to work. We have learned so many songs that we have performed twice and threw them away and never played them again. “Applause” by Lady Gaga, that was a terrible idea. I don’t know, it grew on us and it just didn’t work. People just didn’t care about that song. Sometimes the Billboard Charts are false indicators on what is going to work. I mean, it is trial and errorm but we try to learn three new songs every week.
(brief interruption of Go Go Gadjet screaming “We Can’t Stop” and “Tomorrow” from Annie into my recording device.)
OS: You guys have become notorious for being the final act THON weekend, what is your favorite part about performing at THON?
GGG: The first year we did THON was 2008, and we played Friday night. In the middle of our set we had to literally stop and they announced “the cookie decorating contest has begun!” and everybody was like “whoooo” — and left the floor. None of the stands were full at this time, it was just like the floor, and none of the Four Diamonds Families were there, so selfishly we were like, “this kinda sucks, everyone left because they were decorating cookies.”
Then the next year we were given the opportunity to play Sunday morning and it was a way different experience. The thing that got me was that the children were actually there. We realized that this isn’t about us at all, it is just awesome to be here. Some of these kids might not be able to see a concert ever, so the fact that we come off the stage and have families hugging us and wanting to take photos with us saying that their kids love us — that’s super special. It is really hard because we perform right after family hour when everyone is hugging and really emotional and when you get emotional it is hard to talk and sing. So to do that is a really difficult thing to overcome, so I have to leave the room during Family Hour so that I can come out and pump everyone up as much as possible.
And honestly, selfishly, we never get to play for a room with that much energy anywhere. There is probably more energy there than when Bon Jovi plays there because it is the final hour of THON. Everyone is so excited about this monumental task they just achieved. I cannot imagine anywhere in the world having the energy that is there during that performance at that time.
OS: How early do you start preparing for THON weekend, and how do you decide what songs will make the cut?
GGG: You are probably going to laugh. I mean, I have been thinking about it as early as May when the summer hits and we are playing a new big song and we think “Oh, this song is great! This will go over really well at THON.” But then we also have to think that there are also six other bands that play before us at THON, and if a song is big over the summer they will probably all play it, so then we think that we might not want to do that. I literally think about it all the time.
We are supposed to submit a set list, but it never works out. Like last year. We wanted to play “Don’t You Worry Child” because it is a great song, but then every band played it, and it was in the Line Dance so they heard it every hour. I guess I could stress about that a lot, but it was the last hour and people were still into it. I think about it a lot, even the day of last year.
It is never running on time, but last year it was running on time, and they said we would have a full hour, so I planned for the set I prepared two weeks in advance and I had rearranged twice. Then we were supposed to get on stage and we didn’t get on stage. Then we have 55 minutes — cut this song, 50 minutes — cut this song. So like last year we ended up having 42 minutes. We wanted to do a bunch of songs but it is like, cut that, cut that. So it is as early as six months ahead of time and as last minute as one minute before we go on stage is when we plan, and I am a neurotic mess the whole time until it is over.
OS: You guys are famous for your power hours — doing 60 songs in 60 minutes — what is your favorite part about doing the power hours?
GGG: Mike: The best part is that you can do really ridiculous songs that you wouldn’t want to do the entire part of a song, like, nobody wants to hear the entire three minutes of, I don’t know, “Cotton Eyed Joe,” but it’s a lot of fun.
Jeff: Let’s specify that a minute of it at song #53 is a lot of fun, but it can’t be song #1 otherwise people will leave.
Mike: Yeah, it’s just that we can do fun songs that nobody would think to do just because it is a quick minute and nobody gets tired of anything.
Jeff: I think one of my favorite parts is the surprise factor. Sometimes a song will come up that no one expects, and everybody literally goes “oh shit,” and I like that, when that happens it is always a really cool moment. Really? People got that excited about Ace of Base’s “I Saw the Sign” just now? “Gangsta’s Paradise” is another one that people always get excited about.
OS: Where is your favorite place to perform in State College?
GGG: Skip. Actually, you know what, the Bryce Jordan Center.
We can say this though, we like different clubs for different reasons, the Phyrst is just such an intimate and in your face crazy party, so we love it for that. When we perform at Levels, we can bring our whole stage show for that, so that is pretty cool. We played at Indigo for a couple years, and that had the different dancey vibe, and honestly they had a really nice bathroom there which is a big deal for us because we are a cover band and are on the road all the time, and there is space there, there is space for everyone to do whatever, like go sit down and hang out. I mean different clubs have their different benefits for sure.
OS: Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses, or one horse sized duck?
GGG: Mike: Oh, one horse sized duck guaranteed. Is this a band question? Are we fighting them as a band? Well, as a band, we could easily take down one horse sized duck way easier than 100 duck sized horses.
Jeff: What if he has a super quack that is so loud that we go deaf?
Mike: Well, we won’t go deaf. I guarantee that if it is one large sized animal we could take it.
Jeff: Well, a horse can’t even bite you when he is that little!
(argument amongst the band containing some of the following dialogue)
“what is a big duck gonna do…they don’t have teeth… fucking feathers… BAM… also, we could ride him then… maybe we could fly…”
OS: If you could be one Penn State celebrity — between squirrel girl, the Nittany Lion, the drum major, or Bill O’Brien — who would you be and why?
GGG: Jeff: Phil Dunphy. Phil Dunphy went to Penn State so I would be Phil Dunphy from Modern Family. And the Nittany Lion without a doubt. He gets to crowd surf all the way up Beaver Stadium!
Nate/Mike: I don’t even know who those other people are.
Jeff: Bill O’Brien is the football coach, I don’t know who Squirrel Girl is, who is Squirrel Girl?
OS: Finally, per Onward State tradition, if you could be a dinosaur, what kind would you be and why?
GGG: Nate: Velociraptor. Cause those bad boys were mean. They were smart and nasty.
Mike: I think I would be a Stegosaurus because I always liked their tail as a kid, and they always just hang out. Just hang out, not killing anything, just hanging out.
Jeff: Again, it is like the bars in State College, different bars for different answers. Brontosaurus would be really big and just eat some trees, no one is really gonna fuck with you. You could also be Fred Flintstone’s crane if you were a brontosaurus.
Mike: I mean a T-Rex would rule because you could just fuck shit up.
(arguments about how T-Rexs go to the bathroom and how they handle their short arms commences for several minutes here.)
For more information on Go Go Gadget or to see their schedule, you can visit their website here.