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Forget the superfluous "girl group" label, The Bangles have been one of my favorite rock groups from the '80s for quite some time. From their early work like "Hero Takes A Fall" to their kick-ass cover of "Hazy Shade of Winter", they've got a great body of work that really stands up decades later. They still sound and look great, making them the hottest moms in music. Drummer/vocalist Debbi Peterson took some time to talk with me about their current tour, their new concert DVD Return to Bangleonia, and plans for a brand new CD next year. And hopefully next time I interview someone from their group, I won't keep referring to them as "guys".

So you guys just wrapped up your current tour. Do you have any new dates lined up?

That pretty much wraps it up. We have a couple little things coming up in the coming months. Right now we're home, got to get the kids ready for school. We're going to possibly start writing for another record.

Cool. So what's the timeline you're looking at for a new record? Or is that just a wait and see how it happens thing?

I think it's just a wait and see thing at this point, but we're looking at releasing it next year.

What's the biggest difference about touring now versus touring together in the '80s?

Well, it's not as hectic. We don't tour as long because we all have children, so we kind of go on two week increments. We make it so it's comfortable for us and not too crazy. And everybody seems to be actually getting along better now than we did in the '80s (laughs).

So why weren't you getting along so well in the '80s?

I think as time went on we were just together so often that, like with any relationship you're just sort of breathing down each other's neck all the time. You tend to need a little space. We didn't have any space and now we kind of give each other a little room.

Who were your drumming influences growing up?

Oh, wow! Well, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Charlie Watts. Karen Carpenter (laughs) she was inspirational because there were not hardly any female drummers around at that time. She was the only one, you know? A lot of males, actually.

Yeah, really between you guys and The Go-Gos and more recently Meg White there really hasn't been a lot of female drummer role models out there.

Not that many. Not that many as there should be.

Have you noticed a lot of young drummers coming to you and letting you know that you were an inspiration to them?

Yes, actually I have and I love hearing that. I love hearing one of the moms letting us know that their daughter is learning to play drums and I just get very happy about hearing that because it's nice to be an inspiration to somebody. It's just a total thrill. I didn't have a lot of females to look up to in my youth. We're out there, there's just not that many of us.

So what's your favorite Bangles song looking back on all that you've done and why?

 

Ummm...I don't know if I have a "favorite" favorite. There's a few that I like. I like "Hazy Shade of Winter" because we really helped in the production of that. And it ROCKS (laughs).

Yeah, that's a great song.

I like the song "Let It Go" because it's like the first song that we all wrote together. It was a Bangles group effort. There's so many songs I like, it's hard to name them all (laughs).

How about as far as the videos that you all made, is there one that was more fun to make than all the others?

 

I really liked making "In Your Room". That was fun because we all got to film little vignettes, and it was very retro, '60s, and colorful. I think that one turned out very well.

Have your kids watched any of your old videos and get a laugh?

My son has. My daughter hasn't watched them yet. But she's already picking up a guitar and pretending to play it (laughs) so there you go!

Now I was reading this story that when Prince wrote "Manic Monday" for you guys, it was this unsubstantiated story on some internet thing, that he kind of showed up and jammed with you all night in the studio.

Yeah, actually he invited us to his studio. He was recording at Sunset Sound and he invited us over to sort of hang out with him. It was kind of an impromptu jam. We had done a show or something, I can't really remember, but it was 2 in the morning and we went over there and were just jamming with him. It was pretty awesome.

Was he a pretty shy or approachable guy with you?

He was shy. He's a mystery man, you know? He's kind of in his own world and, man, he's a genius, I tell you. He's amazing.

So the new DVD that you've got out, Return to Bangleonia...have you had a chance to sit down and watch all of it yet?

Not really. The only time we've watched the actual performance is when we sat down and did the commentary for it. And that was kind of spontaneous, because we hadn't see the whole thing. So as we were doing the commentary we were watching the actual performance. That was quite funny.

I really enjoyed it. So this was recorded in 2000 a The House of Blues in Los Angeles?

That's correct.

 

I was surprised how tight and nice everything sounded. In fact I was telling my wife that I wished there was a bonus CD that came with it to listen to on the side because the audio was so nice.

Well, you know we actually recorded some shows on this recent trip to do that, because we do want to release a live CD. So that's the other project we have to work on. The thing is with the DVD, kind of just hearing it sonically, it didn't really work as well as having the visual and the sonic together. We didn't feel it was tight enough. So that's why we want to get a better product out that everybody can enjoy.

A video collection would also be nice.

Well there's one that Sony put out. It's missing "Hazy Shade of Winter" because it's a different record company, but they did put a DVD out, the "Best of" videos. So it is out there.

Now in the '80s, and I it's hard to always have The Go-Gos brought up because they were the other dominant female group of the time. Was that a distraction to have them out there? Were they rivals or were they friendly competition?

There was a little bit of friendly competition, as would be expected. We actually did one show in Las Vegas together in the early '80s, which was kind of fun. There was no cat fighting or anything like that (laughs) They did their thing and we did our thing. People liked to compare us, but we were two different bands. Just like two different boy bands, you know? There just happened to be two different girl bands out at the same time.

You did some work with Gina Shock (The Go-Gos drummer) at one time?

 

Yes, in the early '90s, after The Bangles broke up. I did a little thing with her. We did a Slice commercial in the '80s. I think it was '87? (laughs).

What was the Slice commercial like, what was the setup for that?

It was two drummers. We're sort of having this drum off kind of thing with water. Slice was very much into the water concept. They'd have like a couple of tennis players and water. It was really cool. We got hooked up with a hose system so when we were drumming water would be spraying out of the drumsticks. It was kind of interesting.

Maybe it'll pop up on YouTube someday.

I'm sure it will! (laughs) Everything does! It's amazing!

Well thank you so much for your time. People can still pick up the DVD, and it looks like you update your website, thebangles.com, pretty regularly.

Yes we do!

We'll be looking forward to some more shows and hopefully a new CD soon.

Great, thank you!

-Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com

SEE THE BANGLES IN RENO - OCTOBER 20th

The Autism Coalition of Nevada to benefit The Lili Claire Foundation at The Miracle of "Yes" Gala, featuring THE BANGLES The Lili Claire Foundation needs your help to keep growing!  Join us for The Miracle of "Yes" - a Concert, Dinner and Auction to benefit The Lili Claire Foundation as we extend our programs and services to special needs children and their families in Reno, NV.  For more information or to RSVP, please call (775) 329-2268 or (702) 862-8141.  For advertising please contact (702) 595-2067.

FEATURING:  THE BANGLES with Special Guest DILANA

HONORING:  First Lady Dawn Gibbons & Annette Whittemore, Founding Director of the Whittemore Peterson Institute

Presented by The Autism Coalition of Nevada Table/Ticket Sales Save the Date Card

 

retroCRUSH BANGLES VIDEO SHOWCASE

 

The Bangles perform "I'm In Line" on an early '80s episode of MV3

 

"Hero Takes A Fall" from the Return to Bangleonia DVD

 

One of my favorites, "Eternal Flame" with one kick-ass chorus!
This one is a bit more low-tech performance from Top of The Pops in 2001.

 

Here's a fun mash-up of "Walk Like An Egyptian" with The Cure's "Close To Me"