When guitarist Julia Kugel-Montoya presented a set of particularly incendiary lyrics to her bandmates in the Coathangers, they knew exactly how to inject the words with the right energy. They went into a room, picked up their instruments, and "banged it out," drummer Stephanie Luke says. "It's just such a punk-rock song, and that's what we do. It's fast and angry."
"F the NRA" is an attention-grabbing cut off the Atlanta-based punk trio's latest record, The Devil You Know. In addition to being a no-tilt headbanger, it delivers its message more directly than is customary for the Coathangers. Kugel-Montoya beats around zero bushes while delivering the melodic pre-chorus, "Human forming, human target/Human fear's a perfect market."
Kugel-Montoya wrote the lyrics when she, Luke, and Meredith Franco, the band's bassist, attended an anti-gun march in Long Beach, California.
"Usually, we try not to be one of those rock bands that tries to feed you what we think you should think," Luke says. "Everybody should think for themselves, you know? But with this specific topic, we were like, Why can't we do that?'And [Kugel-Montoya] did it in a really well-thought-out way. It's not all 'fuck this' and 'fuck that.' Every single line in that song is well-thought-out, and it's not telling our fans what to think — it's what we think."
The Coathangers have been going hard with their deceptively precise and always catchy garage rock for almost 14 years. Speaking to New Times during a cigarette break on a reportedly sweltering porch in Atlanta, Luke and Franco explain the close dynamic that has kept them together so long.
"We're like sisters," Luke says. "It's like second nature. Actually, it's like first nature because none of us were in bands before this. So we started together and we'll die doing this shit together, man. I mean, why not? It's a great thing to do, and we grew up doing it together. I think that's part of what maybe makes us a little different from other people."
Unlike some strife-stricken bands, the three communicate effortlessly with one another without butting heads over small details, and they're generally easygoing when they're tossing around ideas in the rehearsal space.
"Usually, we're all on the same page," Franco says.
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"It's just, What's best for the song? What's best for the album? What's best for the Coathangers? It's like Three Musketeers or Three Blind Mice. It's like three blind people leading each other around, coming up with good ideas here and there, trying not to get eaten by the cat," Luke says, concluding her stream-of-consciousness with a cackle. "That's pretty much it."
What's best for the Coathangers right now is saying exactly what's on their minds. Luke admits they expected some pushback when "F the NRA" dropped in March, but the response has been mostly positive.
"Obviously, our fans aren't fans of the fucking NRA," she says.