Episode 141: Debbi Peterson

Episode 141: Debbi Peterson
Pat is joined in studio by founding member, drummer & vocalist of The Bangles Debbi Peterson! Debbi chats, laughs and sings but sadly refused to do any Egyptian walking. Ryan Budds also sits in as guest producer.
From March 20, 2014

With your host:

Pat Francis

00:00:00 Pat welcomes us to the show. Kyle and Matt are busy working, so today's episode will feature comedian/writer Ryan Budds in the producer's chair.
Welcome to the show, Ryan. Now GET TO WORK!
Pat introduces this week's special guest. It's founding member/drummer/lead vocalist of The Bangles, the lovely and talented Debbi Peterson!
Even though The Bangles are one of Pat's favorite bands, he admits he never saw the band live until very recently, when they performed at the Whisky a Go Go. He was very impressed with the show, especially Debbi's live drumming skills.
Debbi talks about her beginnings as a musician. She and her sister Vicki Peterson decided to form a band together when Debbi was a teenager, with Debbi on drums and Vicki on guitar.
00:05:00 Debbi and Vicki recruited Susanna Hoffs on guitar and vocals and Annette Zilinskas on bass. After calling themselves The Colours and The Supersonic Bangs, they chose The Bangs as their name. In 1981, they recorded a single as The Bangs called "Getting Out of Hand", which Pat plays.
00:10:00 Soon after they released the single, The Bangs signed with the label Faulty Products and were managed by Myles Copeland, who is Stewart Copeland's son. The band first released an EP in 1982 as The Bangs, but after being threatened by a lawsuit from another band called The Bangs, the group decided to change their name to The Bangles. The EP was then re-released as Bangles on IRS Records in 1983. Myles then helped the band get signed to CBS Records.
Pat and Debbi talk a bit about all girl rock bands. There just don't seem to be that many new ones out there. Pat, Debbi, and Ryan bring up older bands and artists like Heart, The Bangles, Dum Dum Girls, and Joan Jett, but wonder why the newer girl bands aren't at that level yet.
Around this time in The Bangles' history, Michael Steele joined the band as the new bassist. Pat thinks she's really tall because of what he's seen in photos, but Debbi isn't so sure. Must be the hair. Susanna, on the other hand, is really short.
Michael (far left) is actually 5'8", but compared to Susanna (far right), she's practically a center for the Boston Celtics.
After Michael joined the group, the four released their first studio album in 1984, All Over the Place. They released two singles from the album. Pat plays the first one, which has Susanna on lead vocals, called "Hero Takes a Fall".
00:15:00 The other single from the album, "Going Down to Liverpool", features Debbi on lead vocals. Everyone in The Bangles sang lead vocals on the albums, similar to The Beatles. Pat plays the song. After listening to it, Ryan and Pat concur that singing and playing the drums at the same time is an incredible feat. Debbi says that once you start to think about it, that's when you mess up.
Much like Billy Joel (and much unlike Bruce Springsteen and U2), The Bangles only recorded the songs that were on the album.
00:20:00 Debbi breaks out the acoustic guitar to perform a song live. From The Bangles' first album, Debbi plays a song called "Live".
Working with producer David Kahne on All Over the Place was a bit of a nightmare for the band. After making Debbi do a bunch of vocal takes for "Going Down to Liverpool," he flat out told her that she couldn't physically sing the song. What a jerk.
Two years later, The Bangles released their successful second album Different Light. The good news: It sold a lot of copies and went to #2 on the charts. The bad news: David Kahne came back as producer, causing further problems for the group. For the song "Walk Like an Egyptian", every Bangle member except Debbi got to sing lead vocals.
00:25:00 Not only that, but Debbi doesn't even play drums on the song. They used a drum machine, which Debbi programmed. "Walk Like an Egyptian" hit #1, but it was a very bittersweet feeling for her. She was filming a soda commercial with Gina Schock from The Go-Go's at the time.
Speaking of The Go-Go's, Pat brings up the supposed "rivalry" between The Go-Go's and The Bangles, which never even existed. The two bands are friends with each other and have performed together a few times. Debbi, though, wouldn't want to do a full tour with them because she feels like it's too gimmicky. Meanwhile, a lot of bands like Styx, REO Speedwagon, and Foreigner do those types of tours all the time.
With the release of Different Light, The Bangles were in full swing: tours, music videos, etc. Still no money yet, according to Debbi. That came later. Myles was still there manager at the time too.
Hey ladies, the 80s called. They want their... oh wait. Nevermind.
One of the hits from Different Light was "Manic Monday", written by Prince under the moniker Christopher. That guy sure does love his singular names. Prince wanted The Bangles to sing over his own music tracks, which the band refused to do.
00:30:00 Pat plays "Manic Monday" and asks Debbi about how the group were getting along at this point. Things were going good, but Susanna started to get a lot of focus as "the face" of the group, which was problematic in a band where all four members both wrote and sang lead vocals on the albums. Pat plays two songs featuring Debbi on lead vocals, "Standing in the Hallway" and "Not Like You".
00:35:00 In between Different Light and the next studio album, The Bangles worked with Rick Rubin on the Less Than Zero Soundtrack. They contributed the song "Hazy Shade of Winter", which is also on their Greatest Hits album. Pat for a long time didn't realize it was originally by Simon & Garfunkel. Pat plays The Bangles' version, remarking how the intro's wintery aura makes him feel cold.
00:40:00 1988 saw the release of The Bangles' third studio album, Everything. They happily told Daniel Kahne to hit the bricks and brought in Davitt Sigerson as producer. Of the first three albums, Pat says that this one is his favorite. He then plays the lead single, "In Your Room".
Pat asks Debbi about Michael during this period. Michael always was more of a solitary person, and had started to want to do her own thing. That said, she was a fantastic bass player live.
Pat plays another single from Everything, this one having Debbi on lead vocals. The song is called "Be With You".
00:45:00 Pat plays another song from Everything with Debbi on lead vocals called "Some Dreams Come True". Myles and the band parted ways during this time and got new management, which unfortunately further harmed the band's existence. Everything ended up being the band's last album (at the time), as they broke up in 1989. The Bangles were no more.
Like Ozzy Osbourne's sobriety, The Bangles were not around for pretty much all of the 90s.
Susanna went off and did a few solo albums, but they were not as successful as her work in The Bangles. In fact, none of the band members' solo projects were as big as The Bangles. After all the drama, not only did Debbi not want to work with The Bangles, she wasn't sure if she wanted to still be in the music business.
00:50:00 Some months following the split, Debbi started writing songs. She got together with Siobhan Maher from the band River City People to form the group Kindred Spirit. Debbi also reunited with Myles, who put the duo on IRS Records. From their first (and only) album Kindred Spirit, Pat plays "Memories Run Deep".
After years of being broken up, Susanna reached out to the rest of the group about a possible reunion. Susanna and Debbi got together first, putting to bed all of the old conflicts. Vicki was apprehensive, but soon agreed to rejoin.
00:55:00 The three women wrote a song for the "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Soundtrack" called "Get the Girl". Michael agreed to come back and play bass and sing. Once all four members of the band were back together, it was just like old times (in a good way). The Bangles were back.
Now that they were back together, The Bangles started playing and working on new material, which eventually became their fourth studio album, 2003's Doll Revolution. Pat tells a quick story about the first time he met Debbi. He went to an Elvis Costello concert at the Wiltern Theater where Susanna performed with Costello for a bit. Costello came back to the Wiltern a few years later and Pat brought both an Elvis Costello album and The Bangles' Everything to get signed. Pat figured that there was a chance Susanna would appear again. After the show, Pat ran into Debbi and Vicki and, despite their befuddlement as to why in the hell Pat had a Bangles album at an Elvis Costello concert, got their autographs. Pat plays two songs from Doll Revolution with Debbi on lead vocals: "Ask Me No Questions" (which was originally a Kindred Spirit song) and "Lost at Sea".
01:00:00 Debbi straps on the acoustic guitar again to perform another one of her songs from Doll Revolution, live in the studio. The song is called "Here Right Now".
01:05:00 In the eight year gap between Doll Revolution and the next album, Michael Steele amicably left the band. There is always an open door for her to come back. The Bangles were now a recording trio. Pat remarks again how great the band is live.
The Bangles' current lineup. Behind Rush, they are now my second sexiest rock trio.
Pat takes us to The Bangles most recent work, their 2011 album Sweetheart of the Sun. This is Pat's all time favorite Bangles album. He gets a 1960s/Grace Slick/Psychadelic vibe from it. Debbi describes the album's influences and tone as being reminiscent of early 1970s Laural Canyon and Carole King. Pat plays the first of four song choices from the album (all featuring Debbi on lead vocals), "Ball 'n' Chain".
01:10:00 Debbi considers this The Bangles' best recording experience. Pat plays "Mezmerized" and later comments that this is how The Bangles were meant to sound. Debbi agrees. Pat has praised this album for months and Debbi remarks that there will be more of this type of music on the way. Pat announces that he is giving away three copies of Sweetheart of the Sun--each personally signed by Debbi Peterson herself. He plays the third Debbi song from the album, "One of Two".
01:15:00 Pat endorses the album again before thanking Debbi and Ryan for a great show. He intends to end the episode with the last of four song choices from Sweetheart of the Sun featuring Debbi on lead vocals, "What a Life", BUT HOLD YOUR HORSES, PAT!!!!!! It turns out, Debbi doesn't sing lead on that song, Vicki does. Oh, what a comedy of errors. Debbi gets in a last minute plug for a concert featuring her and John Wicks from The Records, and Pat plays the song to end the show.
Time Song Album Artist Who
00:05:00 Getting Out of Hand Single The Bangs N/A
00:10:00 Hero Takes a Fall All Over the Place The Bangles N/A
00:15:00 Going Down to Liverpool All Over the Place The Bangles N/A
00:20:00 Live All Over the Place The Bangles Debbi (Live In-Studio)
00:30:00 Manic Monday Different Light The Bangles N/A
00:30:00 Standing in the Hallway Different Light The Bangles N/A
00:30:00 Not Like You Different Light The Bangles N/A
00:35:00 Hazy Shade of Winter Less Than Zero Soundtrack The Bangles N/A
00:40:00 In Your Room Everything The Bangles N/A
00:40:00 Be With You Everything The Bangles N/A
00:45:00 Some Dreams Come True Everything The Bangles N/A
00:50:00 Memories Run Deep Kindred Spirit Kindred Spirit N/A
00:55:00 Ask Me No Questions Doll Revolution The Bangles N/A
00:55:00 Lost at Sea Doll Revolution The Bangles N/A
01:00:00 Here Right Now Doll Revolution The Bangles Debbi (Live In-Studio)
01:05:00 Ball 'n' Chain Sweetheart of the Sun The Bangles N/A
01:10:00 Mesmerized Sweetheart of the Sun The Bangles N/A
01:10:00 One of Two Sweetheart of the Sun The Bangles N/A
01:15:00 What a Life Sweetheart of the Sun The Bangles N/A