Interview with a Bangle: 80s Power Pop Group Coming to Celebrate Fairfax
Member Debbi Peterson talked to Patch about what it's like being known for so many iconic 80s songs.
Eighties power pop group The Bangles is coming to Celebrate Fairfax! Saturday.
Known for their hits such as Manic Monday, Walk Like an Egyptian and Eternal Flame, the Bangles now balance touring and songwriting with parenting, as all three members now have children. After their break in 1988, the Bangles came back together in 1999 to record a new song, "Get the Girl," for the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. They then released Doll Revolution in 2002 and are expected to have a new album out this fall.
We spoke to member Debbi Peterson, who plays drums and guitar and trades off singing duties with her sister Vicki Peterson and Susanna Hoffs. Peterson now has two children - Brian and Keira - with her husband Steven Botting.
Patch: What are you planning on doing in your set? Is it a mix of old and new?
Debbi Peterson: It’s a mixed bag. It’s old and new. We even have a couple of brand new ones [off The Bangles' album coming out this fall].
Patch: Do you still enjoy playing your big hits from the 80s?
Peterson: You know, we’ve obviously been playing them for a very long time. We refresh them a bit. We change them around slightly. For example, we add a song into it as a medley to keep it more fresh and interesting for us.
Patch: What is it like having these songs that are known as defining songs for that decade?
Peterson: Pretty amazing actually. It's nice to be remembered; it’s nice to have something that’s attached to that decade. Like in the 60s, you had the [Rolling] Stones and Beatles. It’s nice to be included in a decade.
Patch: Has it been hard moving beyond your 80s heyday into your new music?
Peterson: People do tend to remember the hits so sometimes it’s a little difficult to get the new stuff out there. Certainly, the fans love to hear new things. They’ve been very patient as far as our new material coming out so I hope they’ll like that too.
Patch: You’ve been working on this album for a while, right?
Peterson: We’ve been doing a lot of touring and stuff. I guess it's been 8 years since the last record (2002's Doll Revolution). We’ve also got kids and we’re working moms. The actual album we’ve been working on it since about 2009. It took awhile but I think it turned out pretty good.
Patch: What is it like trying to balance parenting and music?
Peterson: It’s a challenge – that’s why we really don’t tour for very long because we don’t want to be away from the kids too long. We have to work around that. We go to the bigger markets and do one-offs in a shorter amount of time. Sometimes if it’s a good offer, we’ll just take it. It’s good for us to keep playing anyways and play the new material.
Patch: How did the break affect your creativity music-wise?
Peterson: It gave us a chance to work with other people which I think added new elements to our songwriting in a positive way. We matured. We got away from each other and grew up and had kids and suddenly had this new perspective on song writing. It was something that needed to happen definitely because it couldn’t have gone anywhere else at the time, but I’m glad we came back together.
Patch: How would you describe the new album?
Peterson: It’s definitely Bangle-ish. We’ve got lots of three part harmonies but it’s kinda 60s and 70s-ish. It’s very organic. We also produced it ourself, which we’re very proud of. I think it’s got a really Bangle-y natural sound to it. We’re all singing lead- we also sing together in unison too. It’s like a melting pot of different vocals.
Patch: Do you find anything easier now compared to your former touring days?
Peterson: It’s still difficult - it’s a challenge with the kisd and all – but I think it’s easier because we just get along better. We talk things out when we used to never talk things out – we had bad communication issues back in the 80s. If someone’s not comfortable about something, we’ll talk it out or we won’t do it. We’re very aware of each other’s feelings. The whole reason we got back together is because we love playing together but we’re also very different people so we’ve learned to respect each other’s opinions.
Patch: What types of songs do you enjoy playing the most?
Peterson: I’m a big pop fan. I love playing pop music. I like playing Going Down to Liverpool because I get to come up and play guitar on that one. I do like playing a lot of the songs because there’re so many different styles.
Patch: Do you have any plans for the future?
Peterson: Just to keep songwriting and to keep playing and to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m trying to be a good mom as well and just to keep bettering myself at my instrument and songwriting.
The Bangles, will perform on the Bud Light Main Stage at the 2011 Celebrate Fairfax! Festival, on Saturday, June 11 at 8 p.m. The concert is free with your admission ticket to the festival.