A career out of serendipity

The Coathangers’ drive and humor persist

Jackie Renzetti

The Coathangers stumbled upon their instruments in 2006 with a simple “carpe diem” attitude.

Since that day in Atlanta, Ga., the three-woman punk group has released four albums, the newest of which, “Suck My Shirt,” came out in March. They’ve toured the U.S. and Europe, playing with the likes of the Black Lips.

Their initial carefree experiment soon “snowballed out of control,” guitarist Julia Kugel said.

Musician friends convinced them to play a show, which resulted in some label interest. They were asked to record a 7-inch, which the members initially assumed was a joke and ignored, Kugel said.

After realizing it wasn’t a joke — and then making the 7-inch — the band began work on their first self-titled album, released in 2007. The album boasts fan favorites that they’re still asked to play, such as “Shut The [Expletive] Up” and “Nestle In My Boobies.”

Despite their playful nature, all of the songs come from authentic experiences.

“Shut The [Expletive] Up,” which tells the tale of being disgruntled with a whiny boy, was inspired by experiences like bartending and washing dishes.

“It freaking sucks having people constantly tell you what to do and treat you like you don’t matter,” drummer Stephanie Luke said. “Sometimes you just want to be like, ‘Shut the [expletive] up!’”

“Stop Stomp Stompin’”also exemplifies the group’s straightforwardness — quite simply, it’s a song about bassist Meredith Franco’s roommate clanging around upstairs.

As he Coathangers have progressed as a band, they’ve tried to make their songs less situation-specific and more relatable. “Suck My Shirt” certainly has less definitive, concrete stories in its lyrics. They’ve matured and left more room for developed guitar riffs and smashing drum parts, as well as more variation in vocal techniques. However, their candid whimsical elements remain, as in the album’s second track, “Shut Up.”  

The Coathangers stay in the present and maintain a sense of humor — which is evident when asked about future plans.

“We’re gonna take over the world, OK — that’s No. 1,” Luke said.

Their recipe of spunk, dedication and modest expectations has remained intact.

“The goals are basically the same, but they’ve grown along with the band,” Luke said, explaining that they’re now able to reach for bigger goals that, as a young band, they couldn’t imagine.

Franco said they’re always trying to improve their craft.

“Everyone should be in a band,” Luke said. “It’s so much fun; it’s easier than you think.”

Each of the Coathangers had musical experience prior to forming the band but not much with the instruments they currently play. Luke had experience with saxophone and violin, Franco played clarinet, and Kugel was in chorus and played piano and acoustic guitar. Now, they play drums, bass guitar and lead guitar, respectively, and each member sings.

“I think life is all about experiences,” Luke said. “We get to experience a lot of [expletive] every day, and I highly recommend it.”


What: The Coathangers with Audacity and Kitten Forever
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: The Turf Club, 1601 W. University Ave., St. Paul
Cost: $8 in advance; $10 at the door
Age: 21+