The Coathangers: 5 Albums That Changed Our Lives

The Coathangers: 5 Albums That Changed Our Lives

The Coathangers shocked and delighted us all when they dropped their new EP, Parasite, one month ahead of schedule — on Friday, May 5.

An unintentionally nautical collection of tunes, the album touches on everything from depression (on a new version of previous record Nosebleed Weekend’s “Down Down”) to stomach parasites (on, appropriately, “Parasite”).

“I guess we went through a lot between the record [Nosebleed Weekend] coming out with the election and everything,” the band’s Julia Kugel told us on a recent visit to TIDAL HQ when asked why they chose to release an EP. “It was really strange, we didn’t even realize that the EP was all water-related.”

In the midst of touring and working on music — and recovering from stomach illnesses — the band took some time out to chat about some records that have shaped them.

Wire: Pink Flag

Julia: That was a big one — really short songs, ferocious in a way and yet very compact and catchy and snotty.

Stephanie: You could kind of dance to it.

Julia: Yeah! And they all vary. It’s not the same song. I always thought it was punk rock, but it’s post-punk, so it has a kind of variation of theme and that’s what we’ve always tried to be for every record. It’s moody and it’s not on the same plane; it doesn’t knock you over with one sound or one emotion.

Meredith: For me, the songs are so short that you want to listen to them again. So you don’t get bored, like, “Oh my God, this song is still on.” It’s like, “Ah! I want to listen to this again!” We end up listening to it three times in a row.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Show Your Bones

Julia: Karen O was so cool and they were so creative. She’s an artist. She’s just such a great artist and she doesn’t sell herself. She doesn’t need to sell anything.

Stephanie: And she wasn’t afraid to look kind of ugly. And she was more beautiful than anyone because she’s not trying to look girly.

Meredith: They never let any one song settle too much.

Julia: When we first started in 2005, there were a lot of very strong females out there who were just fucking doing it. Creating their own style. The attitude behind it was just like, “Fuck yeah.”

Meredith: We were just the other day listening to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs again and I forgot how good it is.

Nina Simone: At Carnegie Hall

Julia: She has so much soul and so much honesty.

Meredith: And her life! I watched that documentary and it just made sense after listening to her for so long. Her life was so hard, but you just feel it.

Julia: There’s an honesty. A lot of people are put off by her voice. I’ve met a lot of people who are like, “Who is this guy?” I’m like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa…” I feel like you have to have a certain appreciation of music and of story, because maybe a lot of songs don’t have hooks, but she’s captivating and very sincere. Definitely an individual as far as a vocalist.

Stephanie: You can just feel the sadness in her voice. I love it when you can feel what someone is really saying in the song. It’s the same thing with Billie Holiday.

Julia: And also turning that into something artistic. We all have ups and downs. We write so much about loss and death and sadness. It’s been so therapeutic for us. So you can tell [when musicians] are compelled to make these things and that’s why you can feel it. We can feel it sometimes when we’re singing certain songs. Even if they feel like they’re such a good time. That’s happened. I’ll be singing [and I’ll start crying].

Black Lips: Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo 

Julia: That came out the year we started playing shows. They helped us out a lot when we first started. The whole feel of the record was so wild and that’s how that time felt, like kind of out of control, barely held together, but held together.

Meredith: So fun!

Stephanie: The energy… you just wanna run around and break shit.

Julia: I remember listening to that record a lot and just thinking about being happy. Just being happy with your friends and being happy in your community. We have a very strong pull to our city.

Meredith: The first year we went to Southby we just went. We didn’t even have any shows. And they were like, “You’re here? Well, we’re playing a house show.” And they got us on. We played like three songs. They were so supportive.

Julia: That’s kind of how Atlanta was. Bradford Cox did our first record cover — from Deerhunter. It was so small and everyone was so connected. It was definitely a sweet spot in our lives and in our experience with music. It was like anything’s possible and nothing matters.

Meredith: And you can do whatever you want. Say whatever you want. Nobody’s going to give you a hard time.

Stephanie: Throw a beer can, yes!

Gang of Four: Entertainment!

Julia: For me, that was definitely a guitar sound that changed my perspective of how guitars should sound. The anti-solo and how they used to drop out. They were very thoughtful about their music, even though it was simple. The layering of the voices — we do that. It was definitely a dancey rock & roll that was very cool. It was very punk still. And very political. They weren’t like, “Fuck the president,” they were just describing how fucked up it was. I think that we try to do that, but not be preachy. Sometimes it’s like, “What the fuck is there left to say? Everyone’s talking so much.” There’s a lot of hot air floating around, so whatever you’re saying you want it to be something that’s special and not repeating something you’ve heard.

(Photo credit: Jeff Forney)

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