Hearing names like “Coco”, “Poni” and “Jem” used nonchalantly, as nicknames, typically conjures up thoughts of cartoon characters or maybe roller derby players – not rock and roll musicians. Based out of Nashville, Tennesee, The Ettes have put a much sexier edge to your regular idea of punchy garage-bands. This once a quartet, now a trio with a new bass player, has seen it all and cataloged it in their fun, raucous, satisfying mix of punk, rock and a little bit of that Nashville twang – with much rougher edges, that is. Be sure to clear your calendar for Saturday, June 11th as The Ettes come to Cicero’s to deliver their rock talent, sure to make you dance, clap, scream and sweat in a heap full of fun. Lindsay “Coco” Hames, lead guitarist and singer, filled me in on some of The Ettes fun, including Drew Barrymore extending an invitation to be on her film, Whip It, soundtrack and sharing bills with some stellar musical companions.
You had a track (“Crown of Age”) appear on the Whip It soundtrack; how does getting feature on a soundtrack usually work? Does the film producer or film’s music person come to or…? Explain the process.
Drew [Barrymore] approached me personally actually, at one of our shows at SXSW. I am picky about what our music gets used for, but I love Drew, and I loved the film. We were out with Juliette Lewis around that time too, and Juliette was in the film, it was kind of a no-brainer, in terms of how great all the people involved were.
As a former derby girl, I have to ask…what did you think of the film using one of your tracks as a “derby” girl type of anthem? What did you think of them using your song to correlate to roller derby?
We Ettes are massive derby supporters. Derby girls are rock and roll, so we always get along. Hard working, great sense of humor, constantly covered in bruises… we’re pretty much the same, but they’re on wheels! I thought that was a great derby anthem. It’s a song about living and learning, so what a good scene to use it in, the climactic sort of moral victory for Ellen Page’s character. It’s less about “derby” than it is about human emotion, really, so it works for me on several levels.
You’ve shared the stage with some pretty massive names in rock and roll; how does it feel to headline your own gigs?
Funny thing is, we started OUT headlining our own gigs. They were just tiny gigs, is all. There’s just a difference between playing a massive arena for 6,000 screaming girls and playing a 500 capacity club where people are listening intently… we play the same, I’ve noticed, for 2 people or 20,000, whether we’re headlining or not. We’re always respectful when we’re supporting other headliners, but I think we’ve got a lot of personality, ha. I think we treat every show we play as a headlining show.
Your newest album, Wicked Will, is set to be released August 2nd. Can you tell us a bit about this album? How does it differ from your last? How was the recording process?
I love Wicked Will. It’s got some really amazing bangers on there, as well as some creepy country songs, which are some of my favorites to write. We almost always go to Toe Rag because — as a three piece — dynamics are important, space between sound, elements of sound. No one gets that better than Liam. I want my vocal to sound the way I sound, Jem’s bass leading the music, and I want that kick drum in my face. There’s plenty of that!
Do you have any favorite types of venues or cities that you like to play?
The tour we did with the Dead Weather last year had us playing at a bunch of venues we hadn’t played before, some of which turned out to be my favorites ever. I gotta love me some Cain’s Ballroom, and the show in Albuquerque was amazing. We’ve been on the road for a solid 7 years (like… 7 years without a break, at all!) so we’ve played just about everywhere. Anywhere where the music is loud and the people are paying attention, it’s a great time.
What’s been the most insane thing to happen to you while on tour?
Totally impossible to answer. Too many wild and unbelievable things. It’s a game, really, that way, on the road. Other touring friends will tell some totally insane story from the road, and we’ll nod our heads and go “mm hm, one of those” because it all happens, all the time. I have a scar on my shoulder I do not appreciate from a fan who bit me in the Black Forest in Germany last year. It’s all right though, she was just expressing her enthusiasm, I can’t blame her for that.
In terms of the set list, with a new album coming out does it change the way you structure your sets? How so?
Well we get excited about playing newer stuff, because it’s new and exciting to us. And potentially (likely) a stronger representation of who we are now. But we’ve gone to plenty of other shows as fans, we know people want to hear their favorites, too. It changes every night. We play to the crowd. You want it? Ask for it, you just might get it!
Originally posted at Cicero’s Blog, June 5, 2011.