We have one of the country’s best punk bands
The Coathangers are one of the best punk bands around, but you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know that. Even its members admit that when they formed the band in Atlanta in 2006—with Julia Kugel on guitar, Meredith Franco on bass, Stephanie Luke on drums, Candice Jones on keyboard, and all four on vocals—it was sort of a joke.
At their earliest shows, they struggled to gain the respect of their music-scene peers almost as much as they struggled to play their instruments. And their sloppiness wasn’t the only reason it was hard for them to fit in. “It was mostly a boys’ club,” Franco recalls, while driving from Vancouver to Portland during a recent West Coast tour. “The way we handled that was not to wear dresses—to be part of the boys’ club.”
The memory cracks Franco up. “Why were we trying to not be feminine?” After all, this is the band that shrieks: “Nestle in my boobies—they’re so comfortable!”
By 2008, the Coathangers had harnessed their irreverent energy and shed their sloppiness. The band got on reviewers’ radars, with Rolling Stone deeming them buzzworthy and describing their sound—on display that year at Brooklyn’s famed Death by Audio—as “unhinged party music” that “drew mostly dancing and awed stares” for its “nonstop barrage of three-part screams” and “random swears.”
Spin’s review of their most recent album, 2016’s Nosebleed Weekend, gushed: “Who knew that even in punk, practice could make perfect?”
Now a trio (Jones left the band in 2013), the Coathangers have released five full-length albums and recorded an EP (a live album is on the way, too). Their sound has evolved to include influences from classic rock, country, and even (according to their band bio) “golden oldies pop.” And on that recent West Coast tour, the group headlined a female-dominant, seven-band bill curated by Southern California’s iconic garage-rock label Burger Records.
“Now the guys are the ones in the girls’ club,” Franco says. And, if they feel like it, the Coathangers wear dresses.