I have something near and dear to my heart to admit. When I was 11 years old (1986), you couldn’t escape The Bangles song “Manic Monday”. It was all over the radio. It was all over video stations. It was everywhere. Singing this song of course was the lovely Susanna Hoffs. And I had a huge crush on her. So did my father.
As time passed however, The Bangles continued making music and I got out of pop music almost entirely, abandoning my darling Susanna, leaving her to fend for herself in this crazy world.
Fast forward many years later – 23 years later to 2009, to be exact. While at home on parental leave with my then newly born daughter, I really began ramping up the amount of writing I was doing. (Makes sense right? Newborn baby = more free time) and I was given the opportunity to interview Matthew Sweet and Ms. Susanna Hoffs about their excellent Under The Covers record that was released that year.
I was nervous enough to speak with Matthew Sweet – he had become a musical hero of mine in some ways. But knowing I was going to interview Susanna Hoffs was a whole other can of worms.
Would I say something dorky? Would I be able to hold back from gushing about her? Would I inadvertently blurt out about my childhood crush on her? It turns out Susanna was every bit as sweet as I had imagined, doing the interview from her backyard in California with her husband and kids mingling about. And I didn’t say anything ridiculous. Win-win.
Now that I’ve shared probably way too much information, let’s turn talk towards Susanna Hoffs wonderful new record Someday. The record sees Hoffs indulge her love of simplistic 60’s pop, a genre of music that her voice is truly suited for. Someday is her first solo record since 1996 which in itself is a big deal so the fact that the record is amazing should not be surprising.
Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Susanna again about Someday, how the record industry has changed so drastically, and all about my boyhood crush on her and if she felt the same way about me.
Someday sees you reconnect with Mitchell Froom who was actually played piano on Manic Monday. Why did it take you guys so long to musically reconnect?
Hoffs: Despite the fact that Mitchell and I would always seemingly run into each other, our paths just weren’t crossing. I ran into Mitchell at a Ron Sexsmith show and we got to talking and I let it slip that I had a bunch of new songs that I was really excited about. And I’m not even sure what it was about the way I said it but Mitchell was totally intrigued and said I should send him these songs for him to hear.
It would take a dummy to not realize that you’re not shy about wearing your influences on your sleeves with the song arrangements and songwriting style on Someday.
Hoffs: I was definitely wearing my influences on my sleeve! When I had run into Mitchell at that Ron Sexsmith show, I told him that I was feeling really great about these songs. So when it came to recording, Mitchell really encouraged me to embrace 60’s style pop music, that he felt it was a natural fit for my voice. Once we hit upon the idea of going with a mid-1960’s baroque pop feel for the record, it was a natural fit.
What did Mitchell bring to the making of Someday?
Hoffs: Mitchell really brought a strong musical focus to the table. He kept things focused so that the record had that distinct pop sound to it.
It sounds cliché to say but things ain’t the same when it comes to people appreciating music these days compared to the 60’s.
Hoffs: Buying records back then was an experience unto itself. You’d have to physically go to the record store, pick it up and then bring it home. You’d spend time pouring over the art work. It was an exciting experience to buy records back then.
I feel that people are missing out on that out of laziness and/or convenience these days. Why go to a record store when you tap a couple of buttons on your computer and have the music right then and there? Everyone wants everything right now.
Hoffs: We live in such a different time. In the 1980’s, those bright yellow Sony walkmans were revolutionary. No one could have imagined we would arrive where we are at these days. Everything is very different these days. People still love music, which is great, but the free trading of songs makes it harder for artists who focus on music alone to survive. I play music because I’m a fan. It is such a huge part of my daily life and not just mine. Music is something that ties people together no matter where you are in the world.