Lex Neon on Vicki Peterson and Susana Hoffs (The Bangles)

The first song that Lex ever wrote, “Lonely Street,” was inspired by the very first Bangles EP from 1982. He remembers that the EP helped shape his musical palatte. Vicki Peterson and Susanna Hoffs have birthdays on January 11 and 17. Here’s to them.

One of my favorite music video shows to watch after school in the early 80s was MV3. It was hosted by KROQ deejay Richard Blade, Karen Wood and David Maple. Besides showing the latest videos, they had bands perform on the show. This is where I first saw, and fell in love with, a local band called the Bangles.

The way I remember it, they were dressed just like a 60s girl group. They came complete with beehive hairdos and chiming Rickenbacker guitars and a cool guitar-pop gem called “The Real World.” I was already a big fan of guitar pop, and had never seen it performed by women. They looked and sounded great, and I was in love.

Although they all looked and sounded great, the two that stuck out for me were Vicki Peterson and Susana Hoffs. They looked like a great team and sounded like songbirds singing through an elegant shimmer of bell-like guitars and a solid rhythm section. I found their 4 song EP in a cool record shop called Vinyl Fetish, and became a fan. Two years later, they were on the radio for everyone outside of L.A. to hear.

A few years later, I was in a rock band called Below 37. We had rehearsed for a few weeks when the drummer said, “My girlfriend says our music is ‘depressing.’ We need a song that girls can dance to.” I was “the new guy,” and I really wanted to write something for the band to play. I went home and pulled out records that “girls might like.” I pulled out the Bangles and started at the beginning.

A day later I wrote my first full song, called “Lonely Street.” It was based on the early Bangles sound and energy (as well as the Replacements, who had just recently popped up on my music radar). It was a song about, what else, me being lonely and wanting a girlfriend.

I also secretly wished that Vicki Peterson was my girlfriend.

I took it back to the band, and we arranged it. I wrote it for the lead singer because I didn’t sing at this point. He took offense to me writing a song for his voice, told me that “Lonely Street” was “gay,” and not to write material for him to sing. The band, however, really dug the song. We kept the song in the set list, and I now had a “solo” spot.

The drummer’s girlfriend had taken a “boom box” recording of “Lonely Street” to listen to in her car. She played it for her friends, and they liked it. She asked for permission to make copies for her friends.

I was happy that I got a positive response from outside people, but I was also confused. “Lonely Street” was my first song, and it was judged harshly by a musician I looked up to. It stung, and it pissed me off. His criticism played in my head for weeks. I got so mad that I wrote an album’s worth of material in 6 months with only one goal in mind – steal the band.

Alas, it wasn’t in the stars. The keyboardist joined the navy, and the drummer went to college out of state. His last words of advice were to get a multi-track recorder and start looking for great musicians because the songwriting was “top notch.”

And me? The leader and I rehearsed with other musicians, but it wasn’t meant to be. I left. Yes, I was afraid to leave. But, I was more afraid of being in a situation where I couldn’t express my musical self; it’s who I am. I left to begin fulfilling some of the dreams that Below 37 wanted to accomplish, like playing the big L.A. rock clubs and recording.

And so, I did.

Happy birthday, Vicki and Susanna. Thanks for giving me the inspiration to start writing music I love you both!

(Lex Neon is the musical mastermind behind the music of indie sunshine pop / rock band Poppermost.  For more info, go to http://www.poppermost.com)

Currently listening :
The Essential Bangles
By The Bangles
Release date: 30 March, 2004
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~ by Poppermost on September 6, 2008.

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