BADASS The Ettes

This is your brain on
Ettes. Two girls. One guy. Rock ‘n’ roll. Any questions?

 

BY NICOLE ROBERGE

 

Nashville rockers Coco Hames, Poni (Maria Silver) and Jem
Cohen recently released their fourth album, Wicked
Will
, on their own imprint, Fond Object, via Krian Music Group/Fontana (read the BLURT review here). It features
their signatures style of punk rock attitude, beating down the boys and not
feeling a bit heartbroken about it – because they can write a damn good song to
get over it. It’s a coming of age album for the punk trio and reunites
them with producer Liam Watson who also
produced Bobby Long and the White Stripes and also recorded the Ettes’ 2006
debut, Shake the Dust, and its 2008
followup, Look at Life Again Soon.

 

Wicked Will has a lot of that
edge that the Ettes fans have come to know and love, but Coco
explains there’s something a little bit different here on this album. “I’m
a spooky kind of girl,” she says. “I love anything in art that is menacing. I
feel there is a lot of truth in menace. When we sense it, we are sensing the
real world, the possibility that ‘good’ may not win out over ‘evil.’ Menace is
real, and our gut response to it aligns us with the hidden undercurrents of
reality. So I love all music, film, painting, anything that sort of pulls that
wary feeling to the forefront of my emotions.

 

“It’s powerful and it’s fucking cool, and I think there was
a lot of that in the writing of these songs, and definitely the recording and
some of the sounds and production. I mean, there’s a locked groove at the end
of the LP that is basically a sonic experiment designed to give one Joe Meek
nightmares. It gives me Joe Meek nightmares! Don’t fall asleep to the end of
this record! Don’t do it!”

 

Many of her songs on the new album are about love, loss and
regret, but with an edge. About how these men should want this (awesome) gal
back. But she sings about, unlike so many artists, how she’s okay with it. The guy is the one missing out, and The
Ettes rock about it and move on. They’ve got cool songs and that’s better than
heartache.

 

“My Baby Cried All Night Long” is different and has a nostalgic
feel to it, then the band changes things up a little again on “The Worst There
is” with a moody vibe and somewhat despondent lyrics – some of the darker but
more candid ones on the album. “If I’m ever on your mind, it’s a slow disease,”
sings Coco. “Corruptive and behind those
doors, you’re on your knees./ Where you’re the worst there is, there’s nothing
to fear. That’s why you and I are here.”

 

As for what fans can expect from the album, Coco says, “I hope they hear diversity from us,
especially because when we perform live, we shoot pretty straight, we like loud
and we like direct. I hope the album brings out how varied each of our
talents are, as songwriters and as musicians. When we play certain songs live,
everyone turns their head. It’s pretty amazing, and super fun to play. We like
going ’60s prog for a minute and freaking people out. Always love to freak
people out.”

 

One thing that fans will like is that it’s a very danceable
record. So, does Coco dance to her own songs? “Totally!”
she exclaims. “What I love most about the Ettes is the drums. Don’t tell Poni. Never
mind Poni, I don’t like you at all!!” she jokes, then adds, “No, but I love a
good beat, it’s so primal, I just instantly respond. I think everyone does. If
I’m lucky in any way, it’s the drummer I have. Solid beats, man. Gets me every
time!”

 

The album has a lot of diversity in its sound – from ‘70’s
punk to ‘60’s pop and country. They bring to the table a cool vibe and display
their true talents as songwriters. When asked what music inspires her, Coco says, “I embrace it all. Good is good is good, to
me. No matter the genre or the era. By that same token, I have a very low level
of tolerance for crappy music of all kinds. So I keep myself pretty sheltered,
so I don’t get so grossed out or give up. I trust my friends to give me good
new music. I rely on Liam Watson, my Dad’s record collection – and Jem has
excellent taste, too.”

 

 

 

The Ettes have lived in Los Angeles and New York City and produced music there
as well, but now call their home Nashville – another thriving music city. One
might wonder if that music scene inspires their music at all. “In some ways,
because the scene is so collaborative and supportive, we all trade and share
players and instruments for all kinds of projects. I’ve never been a part of
something like that before, so it’s really cool. New country music does not
even touch these ears, but I meet a lot of old timers at the bars I frequent
there and they inspire me with records, juke box times, and stories,” she
explains.

 

Another person they’ve met through the music scene is Jack
White, who they have become friends with and who has asked the Ettes to play on
sessions for him. “He’s churning out projects like nobody’s business for [his
label] Third Man.
If we’re in town, we’ll always do it. He’s a talented guy with good taste. What
can I say?” she says, seemingly excited.

 

He’s not the only talented artist that she has met. The Ettes
have toured with a number of top artists, including Kings of Leon and the Dead
Weather. Regarding the latter, Coco notes, “The
tour with the Dead Weather last year was so much fun, the band was amazing and
the crew and experiences were the best up to that point. Total pros, but
totally awesome people. That makes all the difference. Then this last
headlining tour we did for Wicked Will with our Nashville
friends Hans Condor [Goner recording
artist; read a live review of the Ettes and Hans Condor here]
was seriously
the most fun we’ve ever had. We came home with the most bruises on that one,
that’s for sure.”

 

As for where this album will take them? “We like to stay
busy, and our albums reflect the way we experience this wild world. We’ll keep
at it until we just can’t no more!” Coco says.
Words to live by, and so it seems, she, and the band, do.

 

Filled with danceable grooves, unique guitar riffs, and Coco’s sultry vocals, The Ettes have something special
here with Wicked Will. Two girls. One
guy. Rock ‘n’ roll. Badass.

 

[Photo Credit: Jo McCaughey]

 

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