Oh, the irony. All through the ’80s, when Susanna Hoffs was scoring hit after edgy New Wave hit with her all-girl outfit The Bangles, she and her bandmates couldn’t stop commiserating.
“We were horrified, like ‘Why are the ’80s so bad?’ we kept thinking — it just felt like a goofy time period for music,” sighs the singer/guitarist. “But now everything’s turned around, and all of a sudden the ’80s are really interesting and everyone has this nostalgia for it. And it’s cool, because I’m rediscovering it, as well.”
Hoffs recently signed up for satellite radio in her car, and she — like a lot of folks — has grown addicted to the ’80s rewind station and the post-punk specialists First Wave. Which might account for the retro-jangly spark lighting up “Sweetheart Of The Sun,” Hoffs’ new Bangles reunion album with sisters Vikki and Debbi Peterson, which even includes a cover of Todd Rundgren’s “Open My Eyes.”
Hoffs spoke to us before the band’s comeback gig at San Francisco’s Fillmore on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
You’re married to wacky film director Jay Roach. Does this get you instant soundtrack placement?
Well, that’s been very, very lucky, because it was just a weird thing that early on in my relationship with Jay, the two of us met Mike Myers and did that whole connection with “Austin Powers.” … Bizarrely, I was the one who introduced Mike to Matthew Sweet, so us three all did some music for “Austin Powers” as Ming Tea. And it’s continued on, with me doing some songs like singing a Randy Newman tune over the credits of “Meet The Parents.” So Yeah — it’s been fun.
The Bangles were namechecked in a recent episode of the new TV comedy “Up All Night,” when its characters catch a concert by a drag Bangles cover band called The Dangles. Does such a group actually exist?
I just saw that episode and I’ve already contacted (show star) Maya Rudolph through a friend! And I got an immediate reply of “We’re so psyched you guys saw it!” And another joke was that The Dangles were originally called Manic Manday, I think — I was just blown away by that. But I do think that there are several Bangles tribute bands out there — I’ve heard about them, but I’ve never actually seen one.
The Bangles always looked decidedly feminine onstage, which lends itself well to drag sendups. But in the early days, you were tough-looking punks.
Yeah! We were! It started out much more punky, much more tough. Our first show was playing with Social Distortion, all of our first interviews were in Thrasher Magazine, and we were always a weird combination of coming from the punk rock movement, but with a lot of ’60s psychedelia and garage rock. It was when the Nuggets records were coming out, and we revered that stuff.
“Sweetheart Of The Sun” definitely has a vintage psychedelic feel to it.
Definitely. First, we wanted to make a record that we thought would be fun to play live, because we continue to tour, on and off, all year. And second, it was all about the music. It was garage, ’60s psychedelia and even that early ’70s stuff, and we definitely just wanted to wear it on our sleeves. We were like “This is what we love. This is what got the band going in the first place. These are our influences. So let’s just embrace them!”