The Coathangers - Starline Social Club - Oakland 03/11/17 | Phot

The Coathangers (photo: Erika Reinsel)

The members of The Coathangers are bold, loud and do what they want.

"The reason that we're so blunt and upfront is because what you see is what you get with us. I think that's just who we are as people," says drummer Stephanie Luke, aka Rusty Coathanger. "If we have a problem with something, we're going to address it to your face. If we love you, we're going to give you a big old hug and buy you a shot."

I caught up with the drummer via phone a few days post the band's European run after a redeye from Amsterdam to Atlanta.  Of course, The Coathanger are no strangers to The Bay Area. The Atlanta trio, also consisting of guitarist Julia Kugel (Crook Kid Coathanger) and bassist Meredith Franco (Minnie Coathanger) have played in the Bay more times than Luke can remember. "We've been touring out there on and off for the past eight or nine years," she says.

The band's played intimate venues such as Santa Rosa's Arlene Francis Center and renowned venues like Great American Music Hall. Though Luke enjoys playing larger venues because it generally means better soundboards and cool backstage areas, the smaller venues are still special to her. "The smaller shows are sometimes more fun because it feels like your connecting with the audience a bit more," she says.

For Luke, it's not about the size or pristine of the venue, although she admits that playing the Great American Music Hall felt like a dream. "We never want to pass up a city based on the size of the venue we have to play. We'd rather play a house party then not play at all," Luke says. "It's always just about playing for people who want to listen to us."

Though the band started out as a fun project between friends, it's blossomed into a powerful group who draw inspiration from each other and aren't afraid to speak their minds. "Over the past three albums we've gotten more and more serious because this is part of who we are now after almost 11 years," Luke says.

The band's lyrics are raw and honest because the members give each other the support they need to write about what they know, what pisses them off or makes them happy.  They write music that allows them to get those emotions out on paper and have a good time doing it.

"We're a crew," Luke says. "It helps to have these two ladies by my side to give me the confidence to say what I mean. That's the cool thing about being in a band, you have an amazing support system that gives you a bit more bravery."

Though Kugel lives in Long Beach, the trio finds themselves hanging out off the road often. Luke and Franco live within walking distance of each other and hang out with Kugel when she's in town.  "We always say we're like sisters but it's another relationship all it's own because sometimes I feel like we're even closer than that," Luke says. "I've probably spent more time with these girls than with the majority of people I've lived with. We Truly do love each other."

This closeness comes off on stage. Though the band has become more serious than ever before about their music, they don't take themselves too seriously on stage. They focus on having fun and sometimes even include the occasional squeaky toy.

You can catch the band for yourself at this year's Phono Del Sol. Make sure to pick up your tickets here.

 

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