sxswm: Steady Bangling

The Bangles are back

sxswm: Steady Bangling

The Bangles are playing South by Southwest for the first time this week. Not surprising, considering they originally broke up in 1989, after three successful records. Now a trio, they reunited and released one disc, Doll Revolution, in 2003. They headline the Girls Rock Camp Austin showcase at Cedar Street Courtyard, Thursday, March 17, 11:45pm.

Here’s a brief conversation with guitarist Vicki Peterson about their current plans, her other band the Continental Drifters, and the surprising comeback of “Walk Like An Egyptian.”

Geezerville: I understand you’re in the studio working on a new record.

Vicki Peterson: We’ve been mixing for the past week. There is a new record coming out, but I don’t know when. We’re working on the label part. As of right now we’re an independent entity. So that’s one of the reasons for playing South by Southwest - to see who’s interested. The other is that we were invited down as a promotion for a contest for Maurices, a chain of retail stores that’s mostly in the Midwest, a young women’s apparel kind of thing. The contest was to try and find an unsigned female- fronted band in America. The winner gets to play a show at South by Southwest with us. What’s amazing is the Bangles have never played it.

G: Doll Revolution was the band’s last record. Should your fans expect something a little different this time around?

VP: We’ve been recording for many months. OK, I’m gonna be honest, it’s been almost two years. It’s a little embarrassing. As it’s emerging we’re realizing it’s kind of an amalgam of all our musical influences that we’ve loved and celebrated. So it’s very 1960s and 1970s influenced. It seems to be flavored by our California childhood both musically and thematically, which was completely unintentional. The truth is we’ve actually been reunited for a longer period of time than we were together in the 1980s. We work on a whole different level now. Instead of it being 24/7, rock-til-you-drop Bangling, it’s very much fitting the Bangles into our very busy and scattered lives.

G: With the recent events in Egypt, “Walk Like An Egyptian” made a bit of a comeback. What’s your reaction to that?

VP: Really interesting, isn’t it? I was so impressed and excited for the Egyptian people. Especially the way it ultimately went down, that it was a peaceful demonstration of their desires and their needs. I started getting messages about the song and saw a couple of signs. It’s weird because it doesn’t really relate and it doesn’t make any sense, but it was a nice thing to be part of that moment.

G: When you started the Bangles were viewed as an anomaly because it was an all-woman band. Even today there aren’t very many, any idea why that is?

VP: It’s one of the mysteries of life why there aren’t more all-female bands. Why wouldn’t you make that choice to make music with other women because it's fun? And slightly less complicated than working with men. It’s very strange. I love that there are a ton of women out there and we’re hearing new female voices all the time. But as far exclusive female outfits, I don’t know why? In the 1980s we’d get the question: “What’s it like being in an all-girl band?” We thought that was a ridiculous question. What’s it like being in an all-boy band? I would think to the future when I thought that would be a moot point. But it didn’t happen. Maybe we are freaks, I don’t know.

G: I remember seeing you play with the Continental Drifters at Liberty Lunch during South by Southwest a long time ago. It was an event because you were viewed as supergroup with the involvement of Peter Holsapple and Susan Cowsill. Does that band still exist?

VP: The Continental Drifters is the kind of band that will never not exist. There’s gonna be that day when we’re all in our Seventies and we’re sitting on somebody’s porch and playing. We did get together two years ago and did a Jazzfest event but we’re all scattered across the country right now.

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SXSW, the Bangles

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