Susanna Hoffs is confident that fans who pick up Ladies and Gentlemen…The Bangles!, the Bangles‘ new collection of early- and mid-80s demos, live tracks and the band’s very first EP, won’t feel like they’re hearing an entirely different band from the hitmaking troupe that emerged later in the decade. Billboard is premiering a new track, “The Real World,” which you can listen to below:
“We haven’t really changed that much in some ways, and that music is still really really fun to play,” Hoffs tells Billboard. “I think it’s as representative of who we really are and as authentic as anything the Bangles have ever done. There’s a kind of architecture to those songs — three-part harmonies, guitar-driven, jangly over a kind of garage rock rhythm is who we are now, still, as much as we were back then.”
“‘The Real World’ is a demo of an early composition between Susanna Hoffs and myself, re-recorded later (in a different key!) for the EP,” adds Vicki Peterson. “This version is unreleased and rare — an authentic taste of the early Bangs’ ringing guitars and syncopated drums. Very atmospheric and groovy.”
Ladies and Gentlemen…, which goes on sale Thanksgiving Day via all major music digital outlets via the Bangles’ own DownKiddie! Records label, features 16 tracks, including a demo covers of Warren Zevon’s “Outside Chance” and Paul Revere & the Raiders’ “Steppin’ Out,” the early Bangles single “Getting Out of Hand” b/w “Call On Me” and, of course, The Bangles EP, a five-song set produced by Craig Leon (the Ramones, Blondie) that’s been out of print since its initial vinyl release in 1982.
“It makes me smile because there’s something so earnest about it, and truthful,” Hoffs says of the material. “Back then we were young girls in our early 20s and so fueled by all this ambition and hope and won’t-take-no-for-an-answer kind of spirit, and we were so driven. Because of the way our history unfolded, with ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ and ‘Eternal Flame’ and ‘Manic Monday,’ the songs people generally remember us by, it’s important for us right now to remind people that our roots are in the tradition of the great garage bands of Los Angeles. I mean, when I first played with Vicki and Debbi (Peterson), it was in the converted garage of my parents’ house, where I was living in 1981, just home from college. We still feel like that.”
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In fact, Hoffs says she and the Petersons (with current bassist Derrick Anderson) are tapping more into that spirit when the Bangles play live these days. “We’ve been playing the old songs so much,” Hoffs notes. “It feels like the most authentic way to be the Bangles now is to bring the garage to the venues. That’s the way we’re approaching everything these days. They feel like new songs to us again, and we haven’t played some of these songs in, like, 30-some years.”
The Bangles will be honored at the She Rocks awards on Jan. 23 during the NAMM Show in Anaheim, and Hoffs says the band will continue touring in 2015 without any plans for a new group album to follow up 2011’s Sweetheart of the Sun. Hoffs, meanwhile, is in the midst of working on a solo album, which she plans to record during early 2015 and describes as “a very guitar-driven record, melodic pop — but it’s a little more all over the place. I don’t know how to describe it yet. It’ll come into focus once we get into rehearsing and into the studio.”