Profiles

The Coathangers' Julia Kugel on the time her band dressed a pony like a unicorn for a show

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In 2011, the Coathangers released their third and most recent album, Larceny & Old Lace, and the record reveals a surprising musical depth for a band that seemed to embody the virtues of spontaneity and playing a few songs for laughs. In advance of the band's show this Sunday with Guitar Wolf, we spoke with singer and guitarist Julia Kugel about some of her bands antics, being from Atlanta and more.

See also: The best punk shows in Denver in October

Westword: Why did you bring a monkey to your first album release show, and what kind of monkey was it? How did things go with it at the show?

Julia Kugel: We had hired a pony. The theme of the first CD release was "Dreams Come True." Because it was a fluke that we got to release a record. So we were really into having a pony dressed as a unicorn. We made them little horns made with felt. They just threw in the monkey for free. It was a little monkey. I don't remember exactly what kind. It was awesome, and it was so weird. It's hard to top that now.

How did you meet The Black Lips, and how did they encourage you early on, and subsequently?

We met them just hanging out in Atlanta. Five years ago, we went to our first South By. We had just started being a band, and someone said, "Are you going to South By?" "Uh...sure!" We just packed up our stuff and rented a van. We didn't have any shows set up, and had no idea what we were going to do. We saw that Fader was having a party, and we told them we were on the list, but they said, "We can't find you."

We totally bullshitted our way into the party. It happened to be that Black Lips were going to [play]. They went on, and we threw beer cans, and they knew Atlanta was in town. Afterward Cole [Alexander] said, "Hey, I have your CD in my guitar case. I love you guys. Do you have a show?" And we said, "No we don't." Then Cole asked if we wanted to play a house show with them that night.

New York Times was following them at that time. It was so terrifying. I think it's the most terrified I've been being in a band. All these punk rock kids were in the house. They were all, "What the fuck are you gonna do and blah blah blah." "I don't know..." Their live shows, and being from and Atlanta and making it, has been very inspirational. Plus they're just nice guys. We played their CD release in Atlanta last time.

Larceny & Old Lace is a reference to The Golden Girls, and from there to that play Arsenic and Old Lace. Why did you pick that as a title, and what about The Golden Girls that you always enjoy the most?

The companionship and the solidarity of the The Golden Girls is what I like the most. We had kind of decided on this image when we were on tour in New York. One of our friends had taken this picture, and we were inspired by it. And we were watching The Golden Girls, and it was an episode with Mickey Rooney in it. The episode was "Larceny and Old Lace." It sounded awesome, but if I hadn't said it was from a Golden Girls episode, no one would know.

There's a really wiry guitar and dub sound on parts of Larceny & Old Lace that is reminiscent of the Pop Group, Bush Tetras and Delta 5. Were there musical influences that were more predominant in your lives as you wrote material for the new album?

Not anything in particular. Obviously Gang of Four and Delta 5 influenced me and Meredith Franco, our bass player, a lot. But we all listen to almost completely different music. We all come from really different backgrounds. Some of us are into hardcore and punk rock and others into indie rock. I think there's a blend. To me, the record is really dance-oriented. In our late teens, we loved the Rapture and dance rock like Gang of Four. In writing this record, the only thing we thought about was making it more musical than we had before and keeping it light. Keep it not feeling so dark.

Keep reading for more of our interview with Julia Kugel of the Coathangers

See also: The best punk shows in Denver in October

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.