“Bangles‏ in your Room”

I love it in your room at night
You’re the only one who gets through to me
In the warm glow of the candlelight
Oh, I wonder what you’re gonna do to me

The Bangles are an American band that originated in the early 1980s, scoring several hit singles during the decade. The band’s hits include “Walk Like an Egyptian”, “Manic Monday”, “Hazy Shade of Winter”, and the 1989 number-one single “Eternal Flame”.

Susanna Hoffs joined sisters Vicki and Debbi Peterson to form a band in Los Angeles in December 1980. The trio briefly called themselves The Colours, then renamed themselves The Supersonic Bangs, and shortly afterwards The Bangs. The band was part of the Los Angeles Paisley Underground scene, which featured groups that played a mixture of 1960s-influenced folk rock and jangle pop with a more modern punk–ish/garage band undertone

“The Bangles did come out of the garage rock template for a band. We literally not only embraced our passion for jangly 60s garage rock, the psychedelic side, the pop side, you name it”. Susana Hoffs

“We were aficionados of all of that type of 60s music, even the one hit wonder bands and were collecting records and really educating ourselves in all of that stuff and just soaking in it and this was in the 80s. That passion for the same music was the thing that really bonded me with Vicki and Debbie Peterson when we met. In fact, the first song we ever played in the garage at my parents house was “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane”. Susana Hoffs

The early Bangles line-up of Susanna Hoffs (vocals/guitars), Vicki Peterson (guitars/vocals), Debbi Peterson (vocals/drums) and Annette Zilinskas (vocals/bass) recorded an EP in 1982, and released the single “The Real World”.

A legal issue forced the band to change their name at the last minute so they dropped “The” and added the letters “les” to the end to become Bangles. Their first EP was retitled Bangles and released

After Zilinskas left the band to focus on her own project, Blood on the Saddle, she was replaced by Michael Steele, formerly of the all-girl band The Runaways, Toni & The Movers, Slow Children and Elton Duck.

“We were up against a lot of people who also looked at us as a novelty and that was just a constant battle. The fact that we wanted to do the all-girl thing was viewed by some to mean that it was a gimmick of some sort as opposed to just us being musicians. I mean we grew up on plenty of female musicians who were solo artists and weren’t viewed that way. I guess it was the fact that there were more than one of us (laughs), I really don’t know what it was but there was something different about the way that bands like the Go Gos or us were treated. It somehow became something that we couldn’t get past and I don’t know why that is”. Susana Hoffs

The Bangles’ full-length debut album on Columbia, All Over the Place (1984), captured their power-pop roots, featuring the singles “Hero Takes a Fall” and the Kimberley Rew-penned Beatlesque “Going Down to Liverpool” (originally recorded by Rew’s band Katrina and the Waves).

The record received good reviews, and the video for “Liverpool” featured Leonard Nimoy, which helped to generate further publicity. This came about due to a college friendship between Hoffs and Nimoy’s son Adam, now a television producer. They received a much wider audience serving as the opening act for Cyndi Lauper on her Fun tour.

All this went some way to attracting the attention of Prince, who gave them “Manic Monday” originally written for his group Apollonia 6. “Manic Monday” went on to become a No. 2 hit in the US, the UK and Germany, outsold at the time only by another Prince composition, his own “Kiss”.

The band’s second album Different Light (1986) was more polished than its predecessor and, with the help of the worldwide No. 1 hit “Walk Like an Egyptian”, saw the band firmly in the mainstream. The song was sent to them in mid-session and the group was divided about whether it would be a failure or a success. When the song was released the group was amazed to discover that it brought them a new audience of female fans, most of them very young. Commented Michael Steele to a Nine-O-One Network Magazine writer: “When I go out now it is usually girls who recognize me.”

“I just recently reconnected with Belinda Carlisle which was so much fun and it turns out she was at the same Sex Pistols show in 1978 that I was, the final show at Winterland in San Fransisco! It’s just so weird but so cool for me to think that we were both in that same room at that same time for this historic show. It was such a crazy thought to consider for me because it was so incredible just to be there to begin with”. Susana Hoffs

“Despite all the shared influences there were some differences musically speaking between some of us. We have a lot of fun playing uptempo rock songs live, there’s no doubt about that, it’s very fun but there’s also something unique in the finely tuned, clean vocal harmonies and the balance of those two identities is kind of the voice of the band, for lack of a better word. The sound of The Bangles is the contrast between those loud guitars and drums and the dreamy, layered voice thing that we do”. Susana Hoffs

There was friction among band members after music industry media began singling out Hoffs as the lead singer of the group, a result of Columbia Records releasing mostly singles on which Hoffs sang lead vocal. In fact, singing duties on the group’s albums were evenly divided among all of the band’s members, all of whom wrote or co-wrote their songs. Hoffs starred in the 1987 film, The Allnighter, directed by her mother, Tamar Simon Hoffs, and was critically panned. That, and the firing of their manager Miles Copeland III, further exacerbated the dissent. But they soon had another US No. 2 hit with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “A Hazy Shade of Winter” from the soundtrack of the film Less Than Zero, and the melancholic “If She Knew What She Wants”, written by Jules Shear, reached the U.S. Top 30 and the German Top 20.

Eternal Flame

“That song was a real interesting moment in the history of our band. That album, “Everything” ended up being the last studio album on Columbia before we all went our separate ways at the end of the 80s. Having said that, I don’t think the breakup was because of “Eternal Flame”, I think at the time the band needed a break and I think it was actually a really good thing that we took one. That song somehow lived in its own little world”. Susana Hoffs

Close your eyes
Give me your hand, darling
Do you feel my heart beating?
Do you understand?
Do you feel the same?
Am I only dreaming?
Is this burning an eternal flame?
I believe it’s meant to be, darling
I watch you when you are sleeping
You belong with me
Do you feel the same?
Am I only dreaming
Or is this burning
An eternal flame?
Say my name
Sun shines through the rain
A whole life so lonely
And then you come and ease the pain
I don’t want to lose this feeling, ohh
Say my name
Sun shines through the rain
A whole life so lonely
And then you come and ease the pain
I don’t want to lose this feeling, ohh
Close your eyes
Give me your hand
Do you feel my heart beating?
Do you understand?
Do you feel the same?
Am I only dreaming
Or is this burning an eternal flame?
Close your eyes
Give me your hand, darling
Do you feel my heart beating?
Do you understand?
Do you feel the same?
Am I only dreaming?
Is this burning an eternal flame?
Close your eyes
Give me your hand, darling
Do you feel my heart beating?
Do you understand?
Do you feel the same?
Am I only dreaming, ohh
An eternal flame?
Close your eyes
Give me your hand, darling
Do you feel my heart beating?
Do you understand?
Do you feel the same?
Am I only dreaming?
Is this burning an eternal flame?
Songwriter(s): Billy Steinberg, Tom Kelly

“I remember being so excited about it when Billy Steinberg, Tom Kelly and I had finished writing it because it was so intimate and so melodic and it didn’t have a real chorus, it had this left-turn bridge which took you to this whole other unexpected place. I was really excited about that and was just sort of running around with this little cassette in my pocket and playing it for people. I played it for our producer when we were all sort of pitching our songs and he seemed to like it but was just thinking about it and sort of working it out in his head how we could do it. We started recording the album and about halfway through tracking the record we had done all the basic tracks but since that song didn’t have the usual drum and bass tracks we still hadn’t done it. I raised my hand about halfway through and asked “Umm….are we gonna do that song, are we gonna do ‘Eternal Flame’ and was kind of nervous” and our producer Davitt Sigerson was like “You know what, I finally came up with idea for that that I wanna pitch which is to do kind of a music box thing and I’m hearing this little idea for a piano thing” and I said “Great, let’s work on it”and we got together with John Phillip Shenale who did that keyboard part and it was a really exciting arrangement he had in mind” Susana Hoffs


Hoffs released a solo album When You’re a Boy, produced by former Bangles producer David Kahne. The album spawned a minor hit “My Side of the Bed”, and a Cyndi Lauper penned “Unconditional Love”, but it stalled, and Hoffs was dropped from Columbia during the recording of her second solo album.

The second solo album Susanna Hoffs, released in 1996, fared better critically,but it too had disappointing sales. Hoffs married film director Jay Roach (Austin Powers and Meet the Parents), and their union led to the Bangles’ reunion of 2000, after Roach asked Hoffs and Vicki Peterson to write a song for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Vicki Peterson joined and contributed songs to the New Orleans band the Continental Drifters, which received rave reviews.

Debbi Peterson had a short-lived career with Siobhan Maher under the name of Kindred Spirit. Steele had been promised by Columbia that they would back her own foray into a solo career once the Bangles disbanded. However, nothing came of it and it was suspected that it was a ploy to hasten the dissolution of the band and launch Hoffs solo career.

Michael lived in semi-retirement in California, emerging to briefly work with the bands Crash Wisdom and an even shorter stint with the semi-punk group Eyesore.

The Bangles discography:

All Over the Place (1984)
Different Light (1986)

Everything (1988)
Doll Revolution (2003)
Sweetheart of the Sun (2011)

 

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