A Taste of Her Own Medicine:
The Gail Worley Interview
by Ian Koss
illustration by Dean Haspiel
To hear her tell it, Gail Worley’s serious writing career began around the time we met, November of 1995. She had an interview with Marilyn Manson, and I had the curiosity to run it. That was nearly eight years ago, and in the meantime, Gail’s writing has gone from the occasional monthly contribution to a full-on career in the business. In a time when making a go of it in the music journalism biz has become as rare a day without spam, Gail has managed to thrive, with a constant flow of top-notch subjects and well-turned pieces.
But I knew that there was more to the story than that. As Gail herself will tell you, “do your homework.” A bit of searching around on the web yielded plenty of her work, but little about the girl herself. So I turned to the best source of information on Gail Worley…
Tell me about the moment you “got into” music.
I was five years old and my 13-year-old sister was a Beatlemaniac. I remember listening to this American Beatles album — Songs, Stories and Pictures of the Fabulous Beatles — which had all of these black and white pictures of the Beatles and all of these “factoids” about each member — like they’d have in a teen magazine. I loved songs like “Please Please Me” and their cover of “A Taste of Honey.” I thought that was rad. I was in love with Paul; my “goal” was to
- Join the Beatles
- Marry Paul
I was five.
Very astute for a five-year old.
I knew what I wanted.
What instrument would you play?
I thought I would be their dancer; you know, dance and play the tambourine! My father took me and my brother (one year older than me) and my sister to see HELP! when it was in theaters. It was insane; I LOVED IT. Let It Be was the first album I bought with my own money, when I was ten.
The next big deal to me after that was Emerson Lake and Palmer — I had seen them on “In Concert,” which was their performance at the first California Jam, backing the 70’s. I had to have that three-disc live record they did, Welcome Back My Friends. My favorite track on that was “Jerusalem,” their version of the English Hymn. I was just insane for that. I still love that song to this day. I was a very progressive pre-teen.
Right after that, I fell in love with The Who, when Ken Russell’s movie version of Tommy came out, so I had to buy all of their albums. I think I was twelve or thirteen then. I was in LOVE with Roger Daltrey. He was my first real sexual fantasy.
Already things are getting interesting. As the planets would have it, Gail spent her teens in Orange County, CA, at the time when the area was the epicenter of California punk and hardcore. Gail was able to piece some hazy memories together.
What happened when the teens hit?
Queen was a huge, huge deal to me between ages 15 – 18. I worshiped Freddie Mercury (RIP) and I was so way beyond obsessed. Queen was my first real rock concert; I saw them on the A Night at the Opera tour. I can absolutely say I would not be the person I am today if not for the influence of that band. My parents just hated them.
In my last year of High School, I was just getting over prog rock (Queen, Yes, Genesis etc.) and getting into the punk rock. It was ground zero for OC punk rock. Locally, I was into Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Agent Orange, Adolescents, The Screamers, X, Alley Cats, The Germs and The Go Gos, who were considered to be a punk rock band back then. Of the British punk bands, I loved Generation X, Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, The Damned, Undertones, Tenpole Tudor, Tubeway Army and Nick Lowe. It was REALLY fun; I had a great time back then. I saw the last ever live performance by The Germs at the Starwood club in Hollywood, it was just a couple of days before Darby Crash died.
Are you somewhere in “The Decline of Western Civilization”?
I was at some of those shows but I don’t think I am on camera. I remember being at shows at the Fleetwood in Redondo Beach when they filmed some of those scenes. I recall this one riot with people throwing bottles inside the club. Those were fun times.
After the wild abandoned partying of her high school years, it was time for Gail to do some serious studied partying. Going to college gave Gail her first chance at writing for the University’s newspaper, and exposed her to the addictive perks of college radio.
Did you have an air name in college radio?
Oh yeah, and you know it — Gail Pink.
I was also called Neo Girl and Gail Chaos at various times. Neo Girl was for new wave shows; I took the name from lyrics to a song by the English Beat, I think it was “Twist & Crawl.” Chaos was for the punk shows I did early on. Gail Pink came about because I was wearing a pink dress and the other DJ just announced me as “Coming up next, Gail Pink” and it stuck. This was at KUCI in Irvine. 88.9 on your FM radio dial.
You were there for the huge ’80s LA metal explosion, though?
Oh yeah. I went from punk to metal. I liked Billy Idol and Motley Crue. I used to totally stay home on Saturday nights to watch Headbanger’s Ball on MTV. The thing is, I really always liked all kinds of music… even what we referred to as “butt music” — like Depeche Mode and Scritti Politti, and everything like that. My taste was cumulative. Whatever I liked, I still liked when I moved onto the next phase of whatever music was happening.
Interview Continue After The Jump!