By S. ALLEN and B. SIMM
CALGARY – Nosebleed Weekend, released in 2016, is The Coathanger’s fifth full-length that followed a slew of 7-inch singles and EPs since their inception a decade earlier. Initially the Atlanta-based punk band started out playing parties and lived for that three-letter word F-U-N. But when Nosebleed came tumbling through clearly the band had evolved towards putting together a diverse mix of songs and styles that moved beyond garage-punk tapping into arty pop, putting a subdued spin on ‘90s loud-quiet alt-rock while revamping ‘60s girl group dance moves and harmonies. One review of the single “Down, Down” made a direct comparison to Nirvana and The Shirelles. While The Coathangers dug deeper into the past adding colours to their palette, they let maturity flourish but remained funlovin’. Stephanie Luke, aka Rusty the band’s drummer and vocalist, expanded on The Coathangers’ state of mind; living in big, bad America; and why their new live recording fell right in place.
While there’s a lot of cheek, style and excitement in The Coathangers, your music, which embraces pop sensitivities, is often tough, even abrasive. In true punk fashion, the band’s irreverence punches through loud and clear song after song with a cynical detachment that you seem OK with. For instance, songs that you made recent videos for — ‘Nosebleed Weekend”, “Down, Down” and “Perfume” — they all feel connected in saying, “Yeah, we’re a bit removed from this relationship, this situation, and that’s alright.” You’re part of the scene, but not necessary in the center of it. Would that be correct?
Yes you would be correct in saying that we can play around with words and in some ways be semi-cynical or snarky with our lyrics. But I wouldn’t say we are ever “removed from relationships or situations”, if anything we are smack dab in the middle of them! We are just being honest without taking ourselves too seriously because life, situations, relationships, etc. are so very serious. We try and find a bit of brevity amongst all the chaos.
We all know Trump is a pathological dumb-dumb, but do you think with his stint as president and all the turmoil and polarization he’s brought about has been, in a sense, a good thing? In other words, the American right has openly played its cards and that’s no longer a secret to the country and the world. Now we have this clarity, we can confront or at least deal with the beast better. Yeah?
This is the question we all are asking ourselves right? I wouldn’t say it’s a good thing having him as president, but I would say that it’s amazing how so many different groups of people (including the right, women, activists, LGBTQ community, etc.) have reacted and responded. Unfortunately, change usually comes with strife and anger at the current political state. So we can only hope to push forward and try and create the right change for everyone, not just the elite few who run Washington.
What do you think is the worst thing Trump has brought about, and how have The Coathangers reacted?
What’s the worst? Uh everything, the wall bullshit is really upsetting to me personally as of late. We have responded by continuing to write about what we think, so stay tuned to our future releases.
You had a “two-night stand” recording live at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, one your favourite haunts, and played amongst tarot card readings, burlesque dancers, DJs and bunch of other sideshow attractions. How did that turn out?
We called it Two Nights Of Magic With The Coathangers. We tried to revive some old songs as well as some current things that we had been playing. It was really fun, but a little nerve-wracking because you know you’re being recorded. The second night we were like, “Let’s just forget that we are recording this and let’s just go for it.” We wanted it to sound like an actual live show. If we had over-thought it, it wouldn’t have sounded right.
Gang of Sisters. You’ve referred to yourselves as that, and others have made that reference as well. A gang stakes out its territory, takes a stand, declares an agenda. What would you say is the psychological territory The Coathangers occupy?
Oooof! This is a big one! We are definitely a gang of sisters, thick as thieves! I’d say we simply just stand up for each other and support each other and help each other grow for the better. We hope that our beliefs and love that we give and present to our fans helps them just as much as we help each other. So c’mon and join our gang already, there’s always room for more!!
The Coathangers play BIG Winter Classic, Jan. 25 at Broken City.BIG Winter Classic, Broken City, The Coathangers