When it comes to cover bands, Sid n Susie are a notch above the rest.
The duo features Susanna Hoffs, singer and guitarist for The Bangles, as well as singer/songwriter Matthew Sweet. Together, they recorded an album of '60s songs called "Under the Covers Vol. 1" in 2006. This year, they followed it up with "Under the Covers Vol. 2," which features '70s covers.
Sid n Susie will perform Sunday at the Birchmere in Alexandria, and Monday at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis. Here, Hoffs talks about meeting Sweet and how they selected the songs for their two albums.
Question: : How did you and Matthew meet in the first place?
Answer: : We've known each other since the early '90s socially. I'm a big fan of his music, and he's a big Bangles fan. He actually knew about some really early solo stuff I did - this "Rainy Day" record I made with David Roback [of Mazzy Star] in the early '80s.
We also worked on the Austin Powers movies. The Bangles had a charity gig at a folk club in Santa Monica and I called up Matthew to see if he wanted to join us and do a few songs and he did. Out of that morphed the idea of us recording together. That's turned into this idea of covers records.
Q: : Why did you decide to start in the '60s?
A: : The '60s are the most important era for music and the arts, as far as an influence on me. But it wasn't until we embarked on the '70s thing that we both had this revelation.
We think of ourselves as '60s fanatics, but the '70s tapped into some really rich emotional material for both of us. For me, it was the coming-of-age years. There's always a lot of cool memories that come back when you listen to that stuff.
Q: : How did you pick the songs from each era?
A: : It was very haphazard. We would make lists and have conversations. In both cases, we would suddenly come up with new ideas as we went. Occasionally we had what felt like a left-of-center idea.
It's almost like time traveling. There's something about music that's so evocative. It really takes you out of your current mode - especially when you listen to something that you listened to repeatedly during a certain part of your life.
Q: : What's an example of a song that was really poignant for you, growing up?
A: : All the Linda Ronstadt stuff. I associate teaching myself to sing through listening to her records and singing along with them. The Beatles' "And Your Bird Can Sing." In the '60s, the Beatles were the reason I ultimately gravitated toward music. I was obsessed with the Beatles since I was a very young kid.
Q: : How do you put your stamp on these songs?
A: : The sound of our voices automatically makes it different. And the fact that we are approaching all the songs as duets, even though each of us takes the lead in different cases. Our vocal sound gives it a spin it wouldn't get before. We want to honor the emotional spirit of the song. We want to capture the essence. We wouldn't have done the songs if we didn't have a connection to them.
Q: : What's the crowd like at your shows?
A: : Very loving. People are showing up because they know about us and they love the records. That makes it really special for us. It gives us license to be mellow and laidback and off the cuff.
Q: : Are you going to do an '80s covers album?
A: : I don't know. What do you think? Should I?
Q: : It's almost unavoidable.
A: : I know. It seems like enough time has passed.
Q: : It's been 20 years since 1989.
A: : Wow. Oh my gosh. That's vaguely terrifying.
If you go
Sid n Susie, featuring Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, performs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. in Alexandria, Va. $25. Call 703-549-7500 or go to birchmere.com.
At 8 p.m. Monday, Sid n Susie will perform at Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St. in Annapolis. $28.50. Call 410-268-4545 or go to ramsheadtavern.com.