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- Posted on Feb 23rd 2010 12:20PM by Emily Tan
Fuse rock 'n' roll and punk together, and you've got the Ettes. Playing shows all over the US and Europe, these rockers have opened for the Black Keys and Kings of Leon. Supporting their third album, 'Do You Want Power,' the Ettes will be touring Europe before heading to SXSW and back to the studio to record a new album. Spinner recently spoke with Ettes frontwoman Coco Hames about bargain wine, getting into fights and the band's obsession with a Black Eyed Peas song.
Describe the Ettes' sound in your own words.
We say rock 'n' roll, but I guess "beat punk" is kind of what Nylon [magazine] said it was. And we thought it was like that because we're really into '50s and '60s beat music, but we're also a punk rock 'n' roll band.
How did the band form?
Poni [Silver] and Jem [Cohen] are from New York. We were really young, and we all were just traveling a lot, trying out different cities. And we met in Los Angeles in 2003 or 2004. Jem was in this other band, and Poni and I started the Ettes. Then we played a lot of shows together, and it just became one band.
Who are your musical influences?
It's kind of a cool combination really, the way we put our songs together, because I grew up on '50s country records, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Elvis and stuff like that. Then there's the Beatles and the Stones, and my parents' record collection. Jem is really into psychedelic '60s things like Love and Jimi Hendrix. And then Poni is into all the newer punk and British invasion stuff. So when we get together, all the songs start on guitar or piano, like old country songs, then they become these crazy rock 'n' roll songs because everybody puts their influence into it. We're not like, "We want to be the next Pixies." We just put our stuff together and then we're like, "I don't know. What's that? How did that happen?"
How did the name "the Ettes" come about?
I guess that was just me and Poni because we're girls. There weren't many girl bands around, you know. We're kind of really small people so we're just like, "'Ettes' is small or 'ettes' is female." So we just decided to take the suffix and make it our own general name. So that's really how it came together.
What is your biggest vice?
Drinking? Yeah, we're big drinkers, and we're very kind of creepy. [With] a cute boy or something like that, we'll be like, "You've got really creamy skin." Our being creepy is kind of like a vice because we don't really care, and it's mostly me and Poni. But across the board, we like to drink and have a good time. And we really like to dance. So we like to go to where they'll play '50s and '60s B-45s and drink and dance. That's basically our favorite thing to do.
What's in your festival survival kit?
We have a lot of ibuprofen because it's just totally necessary. "Two-Buck Chuck" Charles Shaw [wine] from Trader Joe's. A case of that to have in our hotel room because sometimes we go out for hours and hours and we'll come back and say, "I want a glass of wine," and watch Animal Planet. Then there are those makeup face wipes from Target, we have those. And basically secret small stashes of food and a lot of extra socks.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
There's Launchpad McQuack from 'Duck Tales,' but that was a cartoon. But I was really into him. And then there's Davy Jones from the Monkees, which was on Nick at Nite, so the Monkees TV shows were on. And [Jones] was really young and cute, and I had a crush on him. Then the Monkees came to town, and we went to see them. They were all in their fifties, and it just totally freaked me out. You just can't trust TV, you know.
Beatles or Stones?
Well, it would be directly divided in this band. Johnny and Poni would say the Stones, and Jem and I would say the Beatles. It's because Jem and I are the songwriters, and there's just something so amazing about their kind of tunes. We work a lot like the Beatles. We record a lot of our albums in Toe Rag in London, and the White Stripes did their 'Elephant' record out there. But we have recording equipment from Abbey Road. And we record on that four or eight-track kind of thing. We're just really dedicated to that process. Since Jem and I are Beatles and Johnny and Poni are Stones, we try our best to bring both influences out in our music.
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
We were on tour recently and going wherever the town was. Then the Black Eyed Peas' 'I Got A Feeling' came on the radio, and Poni and I were clapping. Johnny, who just joined the band, said, "Turn it off. This is horrible." We told him to wait 'til it plays through. Then Johnny's dancing and said, "We should listen to that before every show." But what can I say? Sometimes when a pop song is just so good, it's undeniable. I don't care how cool you are.
What's the craziest thing you've seen your experienced while on tour?
We're on the 'Whip It' [film] soundtrack, and we went to the premiere in Los Angeles. Poni got attacked by a taxi driver. The driver was trying to screw her -- [he] tried to put [the meter up] because he thought we were tourists. And we were like, "We have lived in L.A. for three or four years, we know what you're doing." So [Poni's] like, "We're getting out." And then the driver just attacks, but I think Poni won the fight in the end. But then she called me and said, "Yo, guess what just happened?" And I was like, "What?" But we also get into fights, but they're not really that bad. We're always really like, "Hey man, I know you're just trying to have a good time, but don't touch me. Or I'll cut you!"