Being an all female rock band in the '80s was no easy feat, but the Bangles dared to do it. And in the process of their roller coaster journey to superstardom, the ladies kicked ass on the Billboard charts and have become respected rock icons today.
Whether you're the occasional nostalgic music sampler or a hardcore professed Bangleonian, hits like "Walk Like an Egyptian," "Manic Monday," "Hazy Shade of Winter," and "Eternal Flame" have defied time.
In celebration of the Bangles and their milestone 30th anniversary of All Over the Place, we had you Bangles fans ask band members Vicki and Debbi Peterson and Susanna Hoffs what you've been dying to know after all these decades of celebrating this trifecta of talent.
If you could go back in time and give advice to your former selves on the day AOTP was released, what would it be? (Moments in your career to savor, etc.) -Mei Lan Liem-Beckett
Susanna: Don’t forget to breathe!
Is the song "James" from the AOTP album based on a real-life experience? If so...their loss BIG TIME. -John Leon
Vicki: It was written when I was in college and my roommate was having a clandestine affair with a professor. So it wasn’t autobiographical, but it was real-life!
Why did you have to change your name from "the Bangs" to "the Bangles”? -Perry Corvese
Vicki: As so often happens, there was another band performing as the Bangs. It didn’t matter that they were an all-boy bar band in New Jersey … I think maybe they thought they could get some money by “selling” us the name. We chose to add a couple of letters instead.
Everyone knows what the fan favorites are, but which songs from your '80s catalogue still resonate the most with each of you, from a live performance, and from a personal perspective? -Courtney Meloche
Susanna: "Hero Takes a Fall" and "In Your Room" continue to be absolute favorites to perform live. Lately, I’ve been enjoying digging way back in the archive to our earliest songs and performing "Real World," "Mary Street," "Want You" and "I’m in Line."
I always love performing "Eternal Flame." These days we play a kind of stripped down, intimate version of the song, with just acoustic guitars and the audience singing along.
Was it very difficult to be taken seriously as musicians when you got together and has it changed now? -Angie Dominguez Moussier
Debbi: Hi Angie, I can recall when Vicki and I were playing in clubs/bars before we met up with Susanna ... guys would come up to us proclaiming we were “not bad for a girl.” We just ignored that and continued on doing what we did regardless of the lack of respect. Funny how things change, because it seems that we are getting taken more seriously now than ever before, which is great!
What song surprised you at its popularity? And what song is the most fun to do live? -Dan Compton
Vicki: I didn’t believe that our label would actually release “Walk Like An Egyptian” as a single. It was just too weird. I was thrilled (but not exactly surprised) when it became such a huge hit. Liam Sternberg, the clever man who wrote “Egyptian,” must have been as thrilled.
There are many of our songs that are consistently fun to perform. “In Your Room” is a straight-ahead rocker; “Eternal Flame” is always sweet, especially when the audience sings along; I’ve been really enjoying “September Gurls” and “Hero Takes A Fall”…oh, and we’ve been playing songs from our first EP recently and that’s just a blast.
Why hasn't a live record ever been released? I own a live soundcheck recording which I bought (legally) from Wolfgang's Vault! And I saw the band live at the Texas State Fair in 2011! The band is at its best live! -David Elliott
Debbi: Hey there, David. We’ve always been interested in releasing a live recording, but there have been many factors that have prevented it in the past. We are now planning on releasing a couple of live tracks plus unreleased early demos in the summer, so keep an ear out for that! I agree, the band does rock live!!
Did you perceive a gap between the way you were perceived and the way you felt the band really was? When was it the least, when was it the biggest? -Stephanie Reid-Simons
Vicki: There was a gap, I believe, and it definitely widened as the band grew more successful. We were—and are—at heart a garage band and the perception of us as a slick pop group was always at odds with our ragged, rock performances. True, some of our recordings were slick pop records, so I suppose we have to own that, but I’m always more comfortable with the Bangles as a rock group.
Why did you guys separate, and will you reunite and play together again? It would be great to hear something new from you gals... -Coryn Tobias-Gayotin
Debbi: Hi Coryn, actually us Bangles have been together longer than we were in the ‘80s! We broke up in 1989 and got back together in 1999. We’ve been together ever since, so I’m not sure why you haven’t heard. We released a record in 2003 called “Doll Revolution” and just recently released an album called “Sweetheart of the Sun” in 2011. We’re planning on getting some digital music out this summer as well.
If you could change anything about the history of the Bangles (either something about an individual member, song release, song lyrics, producer, legacy, etc.), what would it be? -John Acquavita
Debbi: Hi John, well if I could change the history, I would like it to show a better representation of the Bangles. I always felt that things were very one sided. There is a lot more to the Bangles than “Walk Like An Egyptian” and “Eternal Flame”... We all sing and write and it’s very much a band effort. I just wish that had been realized.
What are some current tours/musical projects that you're involved in now? -Leanne LoMonaco
Susanna: This summer and fall, I will be touring in the U.S. with the Bangles, performing in small venues, which I love. We are also going to digitally release our long out of print first E.P. from 1982, along with some other rare tracks.
What do your children think about your success with the band? -Paul Proper
Debbi: Hello Paul, our kids are thrilled with the fact that their moms are in a rock band!! Their friends think it’s great. I think they are proud, although they tend to be cool about it!!
All three of you are also involved in various side projects. Does that extra freedom help the group dynamic? -Terrence Flamm
Vicki: Even when it sometimes makes scheduling a nightmare, I do believe that our other creative projects are ultimately good for the band. We used to view the Bangles as a four-sided marriage, but now we’re a happy three-sided open marriage with lots of affairs. Allowing each other the freedom to create music, movies, art—whatever—lets some air into the room and it’s easier and more fun when we come together to Bangle. (Yes, that’s a verb.)