This story originally appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of Limelight Magazine
By GEORGE AUSTIN
Back in the 1980s, when they were exploding onto the music scene with songs like “Walk Like An Egyptian” and “Manic Monday,” members of the Bangles were being asked if they were starting a new trend with all-female rock bands.
Despite their considerable success, the women rock group thing never really took off. Vicki Peterson, guitarist/vocalist for The Bangles, says it’s still a mystery to her why more women did not form their own bands after that. She said she does not know if she should blame the music industry or she wonders if The Bangles and The Go Gos were just not big enough precedent setters.
But The Bangles, who also include Vicki’s sister Debbi, the drummer, vocalist/guitarist Susanna Hoffs and vocalist/bassist Annette Zilinskas, since having had families, are still around, playing concerts and are working on a new album.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” Peterson said in a telephone interview. “There’s a very nice dynamic when women play together. It’s different than when women and men play together. It’s different than when all men play together. It’s a different attitude.”
The Bangles recently started recording a new album and they are going about the process differently than in the past. Instead of taking a collection of 40 songs and going into the studio, they are kind of making it up as they go along. Peterson said The Bangles are growing the album as they record it and doing some experimentation with the music.
“In the end, it will sound like a Bangles record,” Peterson said. “There will be lots of jaggly guitars and lots of harmonies.”
Peterson said today’s state-of-the-art technology makes it possible for the band to make an album that way and it also weighs less on their family lives. She is not sure when the new album will come out, maybe by the end of the year, but she said the band is working steady on it. But the days when they would spend 24/7 on The Bangles as they did in the 1980s are over.
“Probably the biggest change is the double-edged sword in that we’ve structured the band, so it’s viable for us to do as mothers with children,” Peterson said.
Peterson said the demise of the band in 1989 had come because they could not sustain their work schedules and needed separate lives. And they are content with the way their lives are now.
“We’re not expecting to be big stars anymore,” Peterson said. “We’re not as concerned with radio hits. We just want to continue to put on good shows.”
Peterson said it is also not as expensive to record an album nowadays. They do not have a record company involved with their new album and Peterson said The Bangles may go back to their own label, called Down Kiddie, that they used in the beginning back in 1981.
Peterson said “it is about bloody time” for a new album.
Peterson said she has very eclectic tastes when it comes to the music she likes to listen to, from Bonnie Raitt to World Cafe to music of the 1920s.
The members of The Bangles also do a lot of charity work. They have done several events to raise money to find a cure for breast cancer. Peterson has designed a bra to go along with that work. They have an ongoing fund raiser on their web site for Doctors Without Borders and they also do a lot to help schools.
Peterson said the band has been active, just not actively recording lately. The Bangles have been out playing regularly in recent years. They’ve toured Europe, Australia and Japan. They are playing a few shows, but are not doing a full concert tour at this time. They played the House of Blues in Boston on May 27.
Peterson said she thinks the band will be playing some of their new songs at the shows, but promises the audiences they will hear the familiar material from the ‘80s, as well.
“If you come to a Bangles show, you’re going to hear at least one of your favorite Bangles songs,” Peterson said.