We're in the middle of Coachella madness, with weekend one in the books and weekend two coming up. The following weekend, the very same Empire Polo Club in Indio, California will play host to the country-leaning Stagecoach Festival. Some may be surprised to find Bangles frontwoman Susanna Hoffs on the bill as a solo act. She'll be playing the Mustang Stage at 2 p.m. on April 27. In fact, just the other day, Hoffs posted on her Facebook page, "This is my kind of Manic Monday...rehearsal for Stagecoach officially starts today."
Back in January when we had Hoffs on the phone to ask her how she stays so fit and foxy and 55 as well as her plans to play Stagecoach and he latest duets album with Matthew Sweet, we also asked her to share some of her favorite music memories with us.
What is the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it from?
I bought my first record at the Wherehouse in Westwood. Carole King's "Tapestry," James Taylor's "Sweet Baby James" and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were some of the first records that I bought.
What was the first concert you attended, and where?
Apparently, I went to a Donovan concert at the Hollywood Bowl. I don't remember it well, but I definitely remember eating at Dan Tana's with my parents in the late '60s and we wandered over to the Troubadour and saw Judy Collins. When I was in college at U.C. Berkeley, up north, I saw so many great concerts. I saw the last Sex Pistols show. I saw Patti Smith. I saw all the cool punk bands at the Mabuhay Gardens. I also saw George Harrison at the Forum on the Dark Horse Tour and Jethro Tull opened. I also saw Steppenwolf at UCLA. My ears were ringing for days.
What was the artist/song/video/album/concert that made you go, "Wow, making music is what I want to do too"?
So many. It's just impossible to name. The Beatles -- every Beatle record that I listened to as a kid. My mother had a friend who worked at Capitol Records, so starting with "Meet the Beatles," we got every album. That was my first musical crush as far as bands go. I was addicted to music really since I was a baby, but when I was in college, there was something about the punk rock movement...I was still studying theater. I was in the dance department, I was in their dance company. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. I really think that seeing Patti Smith and the Sex Pistols had a huge impact on me. Because I suddenly realized there's theater in this. It was kind of a combination of all the things I was interested in. It was like the ultimate art project.
What song by another artist makes you go, "Darn, I really wish I'd written or recorded that"?
There's millions of them, but the go-to song for me is "Here Comes the Sun" by George Harrison and the Beatles. It sums up so many things I love about music. How you can walk that line between darkness and light and yearning and how the music and words go together so perfectly. And how music can be so transformative. It can be such a magical, mystical way of communicating emotions that are hard to communicate. And I love that. I love that song, but there are so many that I love.
If you could duet with any recording artist, living or dead, who would your dream duet partner be?
There are so many people I want to sing with. Wow… Colin Blunstone, Neil Young, Dolly Parton, and I'm so fortunate to have a dream duet partner in Matthew Sweet.
What has been your unfortunate onstage mishap?
In 1989, the Bangles were invited to play a free concert as part of a radio station promotion for the opening of a new toll way in Houston. As we drove up to the stage, we had an uneasy feeling, especially when we saw that there were over 25,000 rambunctious people crowded on this freeway overpass. As we played the show, the audience became wilder and wilder. When we launched into "Walk Like an Egyptian," things got really crazy, and the whole freeway started to bounce and shake. The scene became reminiscent of a '70s disaster film. Halfway through the song, the shaking felt like an earthquake, and I ran off the stage. I have to hand it to the Peterson sisters for continuing on until the song was over. I have successfully avoided performing on freeway overpasses ever since!
What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever done for you or said to you?
I received a couple of unusual gifts in the '80s. Once I was handed a wedding ring while on stage with the Bangles, and another time I was sent a pink paisley telecaster guitar, both of which I returned.
Do you have a special pre-show ritual?
I like to get in the mood by listening to '60s music and doing a little go-go dancing.
What's the most unusual thing on your tour rider?
I have the most boring tour rider in the world. I do remember back in the '80s, the Bangles were on the festival circuit in Europe with INXS. Our tour rider consisted of the usual deli tray fare, the sort Nigel Tufnel protested so hilariously in Spinal Tap. We girls wandered into the INXS dressing room and were completely stupefied by the cornucopia of hot exotic cuisine they had laid out in chafing dishes. But, we never managed to jazz up our tour rider.
What is your on-the-road must-have?
An iPad Mini loaded up with books, running shoes and super comfortable clothes that resemble pajamas but can pass as something you would wear in public.
What's the one genre of music you'd never try to do yourself, and why not?
I definitely don't have the musical chops to play classical or jazz. I do, on the other hand, have a fantasy of performing in a Broadway musical.
Do you do karaoke? If so, what's your go-to karaoke song?
Yes. "To Sir with Love."
What's the most surprising song/artist on your phone or iPod?
I have a pretty eclectic iPhone library. Everything from the "9th Symphony" to the "Theme from Shaft" and the Free Design's "Kites are Fun" to Thich Nhat Hanh's "Calm, Ease, Smile, Breathe."
What's the most recent album you've purchased?
I just bought The Zombies "Odyssey and Oracle" for the second time.
Most recent concert you attended?
I attended (and performed) at a show recently with Tenacious D and the Haden Triplets. They were both amazing.
The Beatles or Rolling Stones? Why?
The Beatles. They were my first musical crush.
Elvis Presley or Buddy Holly?
Are you on Twitter? If so who is your favorite person to follow?
Yes! I was very late to the party, but I must say I'm really enjoying it. Come find me @susannahoffs. Oh man, there are so many. Two of my faves are @JonWurster and @DJRotaryRachel.