Friday, December 01, 2006

Mini-Interview: The Ettes

With songs as potent as It Ain't You, Reputation, and Dead and Gone, 60s-style garage rockers The Ettes basically just rule the fucking school. Not much more needs to be said.

So, we checked in with Coco, the lead of this excellent LA three-piece, to, y’know, chitchat about stuff.

Your album Shake The Dust has some of the best tracks I’ve heard this year. Was it as much fun to record as it is to listen to? Or at least equal parts work and enjoyment?

Well, thank you! It was the most fun I think any of us have ever had. It was also very demanding in so many aspects, which is why I think it's so rewarding for us. Liam is challenging, but also very imaginative and fun. It was a joy to have that working relationship, and to get the results that we did.

How did you end up on your label Sympathy for the Record Industry!? And get paired up with producer Liam Watson (who has also worked with The White Stripes and The Datsuns)?

We sent Liam an e-mail, asking if we could send him a demo, because we were so interested in working with him. He was at the top of our list. We loved the sounds he got, and he worked with so many artists that we loved, it seemed like a great fit. He listened to our demo and invited us to Toe Rag.

After we did some work at Toe Rag, we came back to the States and sent John at Sympathy some songs. He loved it, we loved him, and he sent us back over to London to finish the record, and he put it out! All in a nutshell, of course!

And how did you all meet and start playing in the first place?

Poni and I met just working retail in LA. We'd both moved out from New York in the same week, but we didn't know each other. We of course hated our jobs, so we would jump on furniture and we had an air band, which got us in plenty of trouble, but seemed to entertain customers and drivers-by.

I'd been playing guitar and touring since I was about 15, so when Poni suggested we start a real band, it just clicked. And Jem was in another band we played with a lot around LA, so when they kind of parted ways and we had an opening for a bassist, it was a match made in heaven.

How would you describe the band's sound? Who/what influences you?

We love a lot of '60s beat and garage rock, especially British/ Northern soul. And we also love American early country and punk rock music. I think we've got a punk rock sound, I think we've got a straightforward sound, but people can hear all the nuances of our influences too.

You’re an LA-based band. What do you think are some of the pluses and minuses of residing here? (For my part, I can tell you that my neighbor's rooster is driving me crazy.)

I'll have to hear more about that rooster! Well, rather famously, none of us are terribly fond of LA, which is not entirely LA's fault. We're all from the east coast and just live and work with a sort of frenetic mentality that seems so out of place out in LA. But it also sets us apart, I suppose, which can be a good thing or a bad thing.

LA is a hub of entertainment, which gives an artist a bit of a sense of freedom, which is essential. And we've got a lot of really great friends in LA. But we live on the road, really, so we never get too fond of or too tired of anywhere.

You recently completed a national tour. How did that go? What were the high and low points?

The tour was really awesome. We're so at home on the road, it just suits us. We get to see and meet so many people and play for so many new friends, and we just love to travel. Seattle was an amazing show; KEXP took really excellent care of us there, and we're going back up for New Year's Eve to play for them.

Chicago is a really cool town, and we always love going back to New York. There are so many towns in this country, so many cool people. Some shows were packed and crazy, and some had tumbleweeds rolling through them, but we had a really excellent time.

You’re heading out for a second UK tour soon. Excited? Who will you be playing with?

I'm not sure who we'll be playing with, but we're thrilled to be going back to the UK and playing so many shows. We get to go places we've never been before, and we love that. I have a feeling it's going to be really cold, though!

What’s next for you? More touring? A new album?

A bit more touring before the UK dates, and then yes, a new album! We're working on it now. We're really excited about it. Never a dull moment!

So, you’ working on new songs. How are they different from previous ones?

They're an evolution, thankfully. We'd hate to harp on the same thing, over and over. The new stuff demands more from each of us, which we enjoy immensely.

Last question: Who are you listening to these days that you like?

We get asked that a lot, and it's difficult, because we don't hear any new music unless we play shows with someone and get to hear them. Most of the time we really react to discovering or rediscovering old favorites. There's a giant collection of really excellent music that's hidden away, and we love stumbling upon it or being shown new things by our friends. We said we can always say Kings of Leon, if pressed to claim a modern favorite.

That's it! Thanks for your time, Coco.


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