Q&A: The Coathangers
Crook Kid Coathanger aka Julia Kugel speaks candidly about the band’s current work
Atlanta punk queens The Coathangers have had a busy summer since returning from their second European tour. In between writing material for their new album, preparing the last of their four-part split 7-inch series on Suicide Squeeze Records and touring on the East Coast, Julia Kugel aka Crook Kid Coathanger took time to open up about what she’s working on and the story behind the band’s latest single “Derek’s Song.”
*Sean Meehan: *You guys went on your second European tour this Spring, how was it the second time around?
Julia Kugel: The first time we went was a couple years ago. This time we went with (…And You Will Know Us By the) Trail of Dead and it was so fun. The first tour we were in this rickety Volkswagen van and the door fell out on us the first time we closed it. It also had no heat, no air conditioning, and no radio, so this time it was way better because we were in a bus and it was like pure luxury. We’re very lucky girls.
SM: What else are you working on right now?
JK: We have the last of our split 7 inches [on Suicide Squeeze Records] that should be available by the time we go on tour with Guitar Wolf in September and October. We’re also working on our next full length album. We’ve just been going to the studio and figuring out what we’re going to do sound-wise.
SM: What should we expect from your new album?
JK: We’re trying to focus more on songwriting and structure and being more creative with what we’re doing. There’s a progression with every record, the next one has to be better than the last.
SM: What is your writing process like?
JK: The way we write is like stream-of-consciousness, spur of the moment. SOmetimes we switch instruments because everybody’s interpretation of the instrument’s role is different, so it creates different sounds. It sucks when you have a dictator in the band. We all have jobs and in life that’s all you have is people telling you what to do and how to do it. In order for us all to have an enjoyable experience we all have to have a say in what’s happening. It’s a democracy and sometimes it’s harder because everyone has to agree on everything but that’s the way it works.
SM: You recently released a new music video for your song “Derek’s Song,” can you explain the concept behind that?
JK: The song was about our friend Derek Shepherd who unfortunately passed away recently from an overdose. The video idea was like a kitschy take on the fact that everybody lives in this party ordeal. We’ve lost other friends to drugs, so this isn’t the first time it’s like you’re living and partying and whatever and then people start popping up dead. We didn’t want to be morbid or too dark, so the silent film idea was to not be too direct with it. It seems like a success. We’re stoked on it. It was hard because songwriting is different. For the video you have to want to watch it, you don’t want to be depressed. We talked a lot about it. It came up one night and we started talking about how we could do a video. It was one of the harder concepts to come up with, how to get everything into it as much as we could. It was a very touchy subject for us, even recording the song was difficult. It was a huge loss, especially for Stephanie who sings the song.
SM: It’s sometimes hard to tell from your songs that they have a deep personal meaning. People talk a lot about your beginnings as a party band, have you seen that reputation but up against some of the most serious stuff you’re doing now?
JK: That’s the thing, it’s real life, everything we write is about something real, even though we get called a party band or whatever. SOmetimes we sing about parties and sometimes we sing about partying can get you killed, life is funny that way.
SM: Do you think that people who think of you as a party band overlook the lyrics?
JK: Well. the first thing I listen to when I listen to stuff is lyrics, and some people don’t, and whatever you’re listening for is what you’re going to hear. If you hear jingle-jangle guitars you think we’re a garage band, if you’re into dancey stuff you think we’re a party band, and if the only song you’ve ever heard from us is “Nestle In My Boobies” then I don’t know what you think of us. We’ve got all sorts of sides and represent all sides of ourselves in our music. The whole reason we started is because we want to have a good time at shows, it’s the only time when everybody gets to relax and have a good time. Being labelled a party band is fine, I don’t think it’s a negative term at all. We want people to party and we want people to think and react and act and we want people to be alive and that’s it.
Check out Crook Kid and the rest of The Coathangers at Comet Ping Pong on Aug. 27.