In the mid-1980s, at time when hair bands were all the rage in Los Angeles, California, a new emerging movement with widely different influences was taking place characterized by the eclectic sounds of psychedelic rock, garage, and jangly, melodic pop. That scene was called The Paisley Underground. Michael Quercio, lead singer, bassist and founder of The Three O’ Clock, used that term to describe the burgeoning new, small but influential L.A. scene. In an interview in 1982 he defined that the scene included a few other bands along with The Three O’ Clock, namely The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, and the most successful group of that movement, The Bangles.
Several years later in 2013, the four acts got together to share a bill at The Fonda Theater for a charity concert. Because everyone had such a great time and the show went so well, Danny Benair, Steve Wynn, and Vicki Petersen discussed doing an album to celebrate the Paisley Underground inception. They came up with the idea that each band would cover one song by the other three bands. The resulting album became a 12-song collection called 3X4: The Bangles, The Three O’ Clock, The Dream Syndicate, and Rain Parade.
To celebrate the release of the new album, The GRAMMY Museum hosted a Q&A session on May 6th, moderated by Scott Goldman with an intimate discussion with Danny Benair and Michael Quercio (The Three O’ Clock), Vicki Petersen and Susana Hoffs (The Bangles), Matt Piucci and Steven Roback from Rain Parade, and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate). Following the Q&A Session, there were a few musical performances featuring select cuts off the new album.
The bands reminisced about the early days of the Paisley Underground scene, finding kinship with like-minded artists that shared similar musical influences, making music they weren’t hearing in the clubs, radio airplay support and exposure from K-ROQ and Rodney Bingenheimer who championed the groups, developing their own sound growing out of emulating their heroes and becoming prominent songwriters in their own right. Weekend BBQs became a fixture for the groups where they could share a sense of community together. Susanna Hoffs spoke about how Prince found about The Bangles through MTV and because he liked their music and gave them Maniac Monday to record. Prince also signed The Three O’ Clock to his Paisley Park Records label.
Hoffs jokingly shared a story about Bruce Springsteen seeing a Magic Mountain gig where The Bangles played. Springsteen went with a record executive representing the band. While Springsteen remarked to the executive he liked the band, he said he didn’t know how they would be successfully marketed with everyone singing. Vicki Petersen chimed in, not so ironically, The Beatles never had that problem.
In discussing the new album, Steve Wynn explained and wanted to point out it’s not a tribute album. He said the bands appreciate each other and it’s a way to celebrate everyone’s songs. Wynn also commented that he was happy about what the groups’ continuing influence has had on up-and-coming bands like Tame Impala and Ty Seagall, and that now, the music is no longer in a void or vacuum because of it. He says back in the 1980s, it was a lot harder because if you didn’t have an audience, you wouldn’t be allowed to play a club again.
The Q&A session culminated with exciting performances with songs of 3X4. Michael Quercio, Danny Benair, Louis Guitirrez, Adam Merrin of The Three O’Clock, Steve Wynn, Dennis Mehaffey, Jason Victor, Mark Walton of The Dream Syndicate, Vicki Peterson, Susanna Hoffs, Annette Zalinskis of The Bangles and Matt Piucci, Steven Roback, John Thoman, Stephan Junca, Mark Hanley, Derek See of Rain Parade, all participated and played. The night reached a fever pitch and reached a high crescendo with a thrilling all-out jam which Steve Wynn announced as “Mad Dogs and Englishmen meets Bangladesh meets The Paisley Underground.”