» Interviews » Must-see show: Susanna Hoffs set to play Seattle’s Triple Door on 11/18 + interview
Must-see show: Susanna Hoffs set to play Seattle’s Triple Door on 11/18 + interview
Susanna Hoffs.  Credit: Rebecca Wilson.

Susanna Hoffs. Credit: Rebecca Wilson.

Susanna Hoffs is heading to Seattle’s Triple Door Theater this Sunday and she’s bringing a set of brand new 60s-influenced songs to share from her latest album, Someday.  Her shows, she says, are a lot more spontaneous this time around.  “Part of what’s really special and fun is that every show is different,” she says about this very special solo tour.  “I get to sort of make it up on the spot.”

Part of what makes this tour so special is the addition of Los Angeles (via Nashville) musician Andrew Brassell, who co-wrote many of the songs on Someday and who Susanna describes as her “writing soulmate.”  It seems to be the perfect description, as the musical chemistry of the two brings the music to whole new level.

Someday, which was produced by Mitchell Froom, is full of light and fun melodies that don’t abandon the idea of lyrical depth and integrity.   You can listen to clips of the album and read our full conversation below!  You can also buy tickets to see Susanna this Sunday in Seattle by clicking here!  See you there, Seattle!

Findyourfav: Hi Susanna! How’s the tour going?
Susanna Hoffs: It’s going so well, it’s such a blast! It’s so fun because it’s so different every night. Playing to people who are just so enthusiastic…it’s just been kind of a love fest, I love it.

Fyf: Do you notice a difference between playing your solo shows and playing shows with The Bangles?
SH: Well, it is really different. Part of what’s really special and fun is that every show is different. I get to sort of make it up on the spot. We have a set list, but I can basically do anything in any order and in any way.  The band is set up for us to be very spontaneous. It’s not very prescribed in terms of how we do each thing and I’ve been kind of re-inventing things as we go. It makes every show feel really unique to the night and to the group of people there.  Every venue has been different.

The people at the shows have just been so kind and supportive and actually calling out requests, so we’ve been honoring those requests whenever we can and adding things and changing things.

The Bangles show tends to be sort of a fixed thing that we do and then every once and a while we change it. So, this is putting me on my toes in a way that’s good – I’m really enjoying the spontaneity.

Susanna Hoffs.

Fyf: Well I’m really excited to talk to you because I am loving your new record!  It’s light and fresh, but it doesn’t lose its emotional quality.  Is that something you were hoping for when you recorded it?
SH: Oh, thank you! Absolutely, yeah. I got really lucky with meeting Andrew Brassell…unexpectedly meeting my writing soulmate. And then that just kicked off this flood of creativity with him. During the songwriting process, it was just about tapping into the deepest emotions and trying to craft the songs in a way that really allowed me to emote in the most real way. And then, teaming up with Mitchell Froom, we really wanted to find the style of the record that would really honor the emotion there.

The 60s had been kind of an inescapable touchstone for me – it just informed everything that I’ve ever done musically – and I think that’s because I fell in love with music as a young girl in the 60s. So, it was learning to sing by singing along to Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick and The Supremes and Linda Ronstadt and then later Bonnie Raitt and on and on…and then Patti Smith. It was all of these female icons that I grew up with – along with The Beatles and The Byrds and The Stones – but as a singer, that’s how I learned to sing. I never had any formal training. I think all of that was pouring out of me and Mitchell saw that and said, ‘we’re obviously going to make a modern record, but let’s not be afraid to tip our hat to this arrangement style of the 60s.’

Fyf: I love that because you don’t hear many bands really tapping into that style right now.
SH: Yeah, it was really fun. We had a really nice show situation at Largo in LA in that Mitchell was available to come and play piano and keyboard. We were also able to get a horn section there, so we were able to do a lot of the arrangements from the record that you don’t get to hear at our normal show.

Fyf: What inspired you to call the record “Someday”?
SH: Well I think that it was a little bit pulled from a lyric from the song, “One Day” – but more than that it was my way of saying that this album had been this long lost dream that I was just hanging onto and wishing for and hoping for, for years, that I would have the opportunity to make a solo record like this. So it was kind of like, someday my prince will come, someday my solo record will be done and I’ll have had a chance to sing songs from my heart in this kind of way.  And I also had the photograph with the umbrella looking at the sky, so it all just tied together.

Fyf: How do you feel like your approach has changed now that you don’t have a big record label to answer to all the time?
SH: Oh, wow. Well, I love it. I love the freedom. I love the fact that every aspect of what goes into putting out a record and making a cover and artwork to go with it is sort of driven by me, in a sense. It’s a lot of work but it’s so liberating to follow my bliss, in a way and just think about what I want to say and how I want to say it. It’s really nice that I get to be energized creatively all the time because of it. I don’t have to wait around to get somebody’s permission or their opinion or anything like that. It’s very fun, actually!

Fyf: That’s how it should be, right?!
SH: Yeah!

Susanna Hoffs and Andrew Brassell.Fyf: Well, my favorite track on Someday is “Always Enough”…  I would love to hear about the background of that song and anything that you’d be willing to share with me…
SH: Oh, thanks! Well that was the song that I wrote with Andrew Brassell that, early on, I thought, oh my gosh, we really have this ability to connect deeply with each other and in the writing. I was very lucky because Andrew was actually living in our guest room at the time. So, he was really ensconced in the household, with the family. Jay and the kids really loved having him there and we were happy to help out while he was looking for a more permanent place to live in LA.

The great thing about it was that it was really songwriting intensive. We would write every night. We were just talking about me as a mom with my kids, my relationship with my kids – who are boys – and he with his relationship with his parents. So it really tapped into this very emotional place for both of us. All of that comes through in that song. I was very touched when I heard him talking about his parents and how they guided him through tough times. And he could see that I, as a mom, I had that closeness with my two boys. We just decided to write about that and explore that. It’s been one of the highlights of that show that we’ve been doing, playing that song.

Fyf: What has being a parent and balancing a music career taught you?
SH: Well, first of all…I think it’s been good for my sons to see that their mom works and I’m passionate about what I do, and I love my job [laughs]. I love that I have this career that I’m so passionate about – and their dad is the same way, but in the film world. They seem to have taken a lot of inspiration from us and they are amazing young men now. They are very creative also and hard working. So, I think that’s been good for them to see.

We’re a very close family. We travel together. We spend a lot of time together. I have two teenagers now and I have to say: It’s wonderful. I mean, everybody always sort of goes, “oh my gosh, teenagers are so hard.” But I haven’t found that to be true at all.  I’m very lucky, I guess.

Like any working parent or working mom, there’s a lot of juggling. You just have to get your priorities in order and for me, my family always comes first. Luckily they’ve been very cool with me going out on the road and they were at my show in LA. They’re like my most loyal fans and supporters. I’m very, very lucky to have such a supportive family…my parents were there, my brothers were there. It’s just incredible.

Fyf: That’s fantastic! Alright, last question…You went through a lot during the the early part of your career with all of the Bangles hype…if you could go back to the early stages of that tumultuous time and give yourself advice, what would you tell yourself?
SH: Hmm, that’s a really good question. I think the thing that comes to mind first is that there was a point in that intense journey as a Bangle where I just got really scared. I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed. And I think my life was overwhelming. I think that being on the road in a kind of family situation with band-mates under tremendous scrutiny from the outside world, and being away from home more than not, was sort of daunting and emotionally draining. And I think I just hit a point where it was just scary and I felt really, really, really anxious. I started to find that it was debilitating anxiety and it was seeping into everything.

Looking back, I would’ve liked to have an ability to take a deep breath and know that everything was going to be okay.  You can only do your best at any given moment and it’s okay to take a break and slow down.

I think it was really hard to slow down when everything was moving so fast. So many years of working toward a particular goal had gotten us there – but once you’re on that treadmill, you just can’t get off. And I think, at the time, we probably should’ve allowed ourselves to slow down a little bit. I think that’s a really hard thing for people to do when they’ve worked so hard for something and there’s so much pressure to keep going.

I think that would’ve been good advice but it wasn’t something that I felt I could do then but I think, looking back, that would’ve been a good thing. But you know, I don’t have any regrets either…so however things went, they were meant to be that way, I guess. I can still remember how stressful that was.

Fyf: Yeah, I can only imagine. Well, thank you so, so much for talking with me. Looking forward to the Seattle show!
SH: It was my pleasure, see you very soon!

You can purchase Someday below!:

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