By Poppy Tohill
Explosive and sassy ~ The Coathangers have been an integral part of Atlanta's punk scene for ten years now and following the release of their fifth, full-length studio album Nosebleed Weekend earlier this year, New Zealand are in for a treat this weekend as the all-girl trio head to our part of the world for the very first time.
“We had a layover in New Zealand once, which was just enough time for us to step outside, take a quick look and go, ‘hey, this seems nice!’” Julia Kugel (vocalist/guitarist) also known as Crook Kid Coathanger tells us with a laugh, as the birthday girl takes some time out to talk with us about their new album and upcoming shows.
“We’re so excited we get to visit!” she squealed with excitement. “We can’t wait to meet everyone, as from what we understand you’re even nicer than people in Australia, which I didn’t think was possible,” she chuckled.
So, Nosebleed Weekend - We’ve all had one right? But Kugel fills us in on the turn of events that brought The Coathangers to this particular name for their fifth record.
“Meredith [bassist] has this genetic thing where she gets really bad nosebleeds for a period of time, sometimes we’ve have to put tampons in her nose because they got so bad, so she’d be crossing the border into another country with a tampon hanging out of her nose,” people must have thought we were nuts!” Kugel giggled. “Even during shows she would get them, so combine that with some gnarly weekends.. I actually remember first thinking of the name and writing it the notes of my phone one night,” she declared. “We were also writing the song Nosebleed Weekend at the same time too, which I think is more about karma and how things can come back to you, sometimes in the way of a nosebleed... so it has several meanings. But it’s also a very Coathangers name for a record,” she confessed. “We’ve gone from Suck My Shirt to Nosebleed Weekend, so we were just like, ‘hell yeah, that’s fun. Everyone just relax and stop being so serious.”
“We laugh a lot!” Kugel admit, when commenting on the seriousness of some bands nowadays. “Things do get heated sometimes, but at the same time we didn’t start a band to be in a band, you know, we started a band because we just happened to start a band and it began from friendship” she explained. “We’re sisters and we fight like sisters but that also means we could never get rid of each other. We’re business partners, friends, sisters and we basically live together when we’re on the road and in the studio and to be able to do that you have to be able to throw a, ‘fuck you’ around, but we genuinely have a good time and we’re always going to be together whether it’s as a band or friends,” she concluded.
Continuing on to talk about The Coathangers recent touring adventures around the States, Kugel revealed, “This year has been really full of touring, with a couple of pretty long stints, so it’s nice to do a few things here and a few things there, because it can be challenging,” she admits. “But whenever it gets challenging, you just have to ask yourself, ‘would you prefer to be working in a grocery store?’ just fucking relax,” she chuckled. “We’re very lucky to be able to do this and have all of our dreams come true and everything comes with a price, you know and ours is that we’re never anywhere in the same place for a long time and that’s okay.”
“Every tour is different and every experience you have on the road is very different,” Kugel honestly admits, as she went on to share her best advice for surviving a long and successful career on the road.
“Stay humble and be nice, especially to all the technical people behind the scenes,” she exclaimed. “The engineers, the security, the people that help you load in and out, just be kind because when your head gets too big, that’s when things start going down hill. It’s really easy to get caught up with people telling you how great and amazing you are, especially at a time when your ego is very fragile, but it can fuck you up eventually. So stay humble and keep doing it,” she reassured us. “If you’re doing it just to make money, that’s fine, but it’s not very satisfying and you end up becoming a dick, so just remember that all of those little interactions are precious too.”
Stepping outside of their beloved Atlanta boundaries into Valentine Recording Studio on the sunshine coast of California, Kugel explains, “We always wanted to isolate ourselves and just go somewhere we could devote our time to writing. So we lived out here in Los Angeles, practiced and wrote everyday, then did the recording,” she declared. “It was pretty difficult, but in a good way, because we’re growing and challenging ourselves we were totally focused and immersed in the whole process. We usually finish writing our songs in the studio while we’re recording too, but Nic Jodoin [producer] was really our coach who cracked the whip,” Kugel confessed. “We had to come in ready and we weren’t allowed to slack off too much which was good. That’s why I think the album also sounds so well done, because it was. It’s an old studio that was built in 1940 which still uses all of the analog equipment on tape, so it hasn’t all been pieced together on protools, which softens the edge and highlights that maturity,” which we originally pointed out on the album.
“Everything about it was different and that’s what we were trying to do,” Kugel replied when asked if she believes the new environment affected their stylistic change in sound on the record.”As a band, we don’t ever want to write the same record again, because we’ve already done that, which is why we decided to go somewhere else, the way we did.”
“I think this record represents a lot of growth and realisation,” she went on to explain. “The reason I say our records are a snapshot of what’s happening in our lives at the time is because they’re real, actual events that have happened. So a lot of the songs on Nosebleed Weekend are about touring, missing home and missing people, but at the same time there’s joy in us realising, ‘oh shit, this is happening and it feels good, so don’t be too sad.’ We’ve always said, if you don’t laugh about it or make a joke about it, then you just need to fucking take it, figure it out and keep moving, that’s our motto.”
Recently releasing a spectacular music video for their latest single, Perfume, Kugel filled us in on their battles against the elements during filming and the story behind the visuals.
“We’ve done our past couple of videos with Matt Odom who is a creative genius and an absolute perfectionist,” Kugel declared. “We’ve collaborated with other people in the past, but he is kind of invested in us because of the number of times we’ve worked with him now. So we brainstorm concepts together, but usually has an idea to begin with as he can envision us in ways we may not even be able to see ourselves,” she explained. “So he came up with the idea of never seeing our eyes in this video, which kind of comes off the lyrics - the sun stole the perfume from my eyes. To us the song is about chances and realising that sometimes the way you’ve been viewing somebody has perhaps perceived your overall perception of them, so that’s where it comes from if you want to take it in a literal sense.”
“We shot the video in a bunch of different locations,” Kugel continued. “I had to jump in the ocean with my dress on which was really fun, then we went to the dessert and it was so hot! So sitting in that kiddie pool and dunking out head in the water was the best!” she chuckled. “It was also really windy too and then the bigger pool was freezing cold, so it was very brutal, but it was definitely one of the easiest video shoots we’ve ever done,” she confidently concluded.
As our excitement for their upcoming New Zealand shows grew, Kugel unveiled that our very own Toy Love are one of her favourite bands of all time. “Chris Knox is my fucking hero!” she happily announced. “I have all of Toy Love’s and Chris Knox’ solo records. We actually hung out with him one time and watched videos of Elvis while listening to records,” she reminisced.
*In conclusion.. Alcoholic beverages were of course discussed throughout this conversation and it was revealed that red wine is a favourite*
So I leave you with a challenge New Zealand, (I’m looking at you too Whammy & Churchills) - An excellent Pinot Noir or Merlot never goes a-miss when introducing someone to New Zealand right?
Friday September 30th: Whammy Bar, Auckland
Saturday October 1st: Churchills Live, Christchurch
Tickets via Under The Radar