It was over 30 years ago that guitarists Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson and drummer Debbi Peterson formed the Bangles in a Brentwood, California, garage. They did so based on two crucial elements: their common love for rock’s golden age (“Growing up loving the same music has always been the glue for the Bangles,” says Susanna) and the crystalline sound they quite naturally created when they blended their voices (“The chemistry was there instantaneously. It just clicked,” Debbi recalls).
Legendary musical guru Rodney Bingenheimer gave the girls’ selfproduced single ‘Getting Out Of Hand,’ airplay, and soon “The Bangs” were signed by Faulty Products, a subsidiary of IRS Records.
Renamed The Bangles, the girls hit the road in ’82 opening for The English Beat, and in the process got signed to Columbia Records. Former Runaways lead singer Michael Steele replaced Annette Zilinskas on bass, and the Bangles began a steady climb to the top.
Opening for Cyndi Lauper’s ‘84 tour exposed them to an everwidening audience, and helped their 1985 album, Different Light make a huge impact. Featuring the hits ‘If She Knew What She Wants,’ the Princepenned ‘Manic Monday,’ and the smash dance track ‘Walk Like An Egyptian,’ the Bangles rocketed to superstardom.
Despite (or perhaps because of) their successes, the band was exhausted, tensions were high, and in 1989 they decided to take an extended hiatus, canceling the rest of their world tour. In 1990, the Sonyreleased Greatest Hits broke sales records in Britain, charting in the UK Top 10 for an incredible 97 weeks, and peaking as the #4 album in the country.
The band members stayed in touch, but serious talk about reforming the Bangles didn’t begin until Susanna’s husband, awardwinning director/producer Jay Roach, needed an original song for his film, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
In 2011 The Bangles produced their latest album, Sweetheart Of The Sun, which was recorded by Matthew Sweet and mixed by Jim Scott (Tom Petty, Wilco). “We went into the album thinking we wanted to pay tribute to Los Angeles and the California music that we grew up with during the 1960s,” says Susanna. “As we were finishing the record,” says Vicki, “we started to realize there was a unifying theme—paradise lost in Southern California, the perception juxtaposed with the reality of it.” Susanna picks up the thought: “L.A. is like paradise—the sun shines 360 days a year, the flowers are always in bloom—but meanwhile, so many people are walking around alienated, depressed and anxious.” Sweetheart Of The Sun reveals The Bangles at their equally beguiling extremes, as soaring folkrock harmonies coexist with adrenalized raveups inspired by the band’s roots in Nuggetsera garage rock. “We really started out as an indie band, very simple grassroots. We didn’t have any money or publicity behind us we were truly a garage band,” says Susanna.
2013 was a year in which The Bangles reenergized by getting back to the basics. They participated in the Paisley Underground Reunion show, where they played with other Southern California bands from the same scene, all of whom were influenced by the psychedelic movement of the 60′s.
So why are they still making music, and still doing it together? After all, each of them has a fulfilling life outside of the band. “I feel like I do it because I have to do it,” says Vicki, “but more importantly, I want to do it we all do. The writing and recording have become more enjoyable than ever. During the course of making this record, we came up with a really nice working method that makes it doable for us and easy to fit in with other aspects of our lives.” Debbi adds: “I think it’s important for all of us to keep moving on and creating, because that’s why we got into this in the first place.”
Tickets are $35 in-advance and $40 the day of the show.
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