Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Not Hanging Back: Atlanta Trio The Coathangers Returns!

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2019 at 1:49 PM

click to enlarge The Coathangers - JEFF FORNEY
  • Jeff Forney
  • The Coathangers
The last time Atlanta garage-punk trio The Coathangers played Memphis, they ended their set at the old Hi-Tone with a merch manager – their drummer’s then-boyfriend – that barely had his arm attached to his body.

“His elbow was dislocated, it didn’t even look like it was connected,” bassist Meredith Franco tells the Memphis Flyer of the 2013 gig. “We just kept playing. He sat behind the merch booth the whole time and was like ‘nah, I’m okay.’ It looked like [his arm] was hanging on by a string.”

Though it was a simple stumble that caused the dislocation, and sheer belligerence that kept it that way, it’s definitely was a punk rock moment typical of The Coathangers’ long, energetic journey that will see them play Bluff City once again at the Hi-Tone this
Wednesday. They’ll be supported by Philadelphia punk trio Control Top and local heroes
Hash Redactor.

Formed in 2006, the band’s first gig was at an Atlanta house party where mastery of their
instruments – “I’d never even played bass before this band,” Franco says – was secondary to the performance itself. After their self-titled 2007 debut, put out through Rob’s House Records and Die Slaughterhaus, The Coathangers begun a long relationship with Seattle’s Suicide Squeeze Records – early backers of Elliott Smith and Modest Mouse – that has seen them release five albums in the last ten years.

“[Suicide Squeeze owner] David [Dickinson] is our number one fan, and we’re his number
one fans,” Franco says. “He really gives us a lot of freedom, whatever we want to do, he
supports us basically.”

Their most recent offering, The Devil You Know, released in March, shows a band that
haven’t taken a step backward from their devil-may-care roots during what has been a
tumultuous time – both politically and socially – in recent American history. With songs like
‘Hey Buddy’, addressing street harassment, and ‘F the NRA’, The Coathangers – named for a DIY abortion technique – was always going to come armed with a response to it.
“Yeah – especially a song like F the NRA,” Franco says. “It’s not like we’ve not ever been ‘not political’, but I think in the past we didn’t want to be [too] preachy. But why not? This is our way to express how we feel, why wouldn’t we write something we believe in? If someone doesn’t like it, fuck off – don’t listen to it.

“[With F the NRA], some people were worried that it was going to get negative [press] and
people who are all about guns were going to like come after us, I don’t know. People were
worried, but we were like, the reason we do what we do is to say what we want. Isn’t that the whole point of music in general? If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it.”

Though Atlanta was the starting point, The Coathangers now find themselves in three
different corners of America. Franco moved back home to Massachusetts to care for her
ailing father (who she wrote ‘Memories’ for), lead singer Julia Kugel-Montoya relocated to
Long Beach while drummer Stephanie Luke remained in Atlanta.

The Memphis connection doesn’t just end with an ex-boyfriend of a drummer who dislocated his elbow, though. The Coathangers were good friends with Memphis punk legend Jay Reatard, dedicating their 2011 track ‘Jaybird’ to his memory.

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