Stretched out, slowed down and fuzzy, the instrumentation of garage rockers The Ettes often shares more in common with Black Sabbath than the Ramones.

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Stretched out, slowed down and fuzzy, the instrumentation of garage rockers The Ettes often shares more in common with Black Sabbath than the Ramones. Singer Coco Hames, like fellow newcomer Beth Ditto of the Gossip, possesses a southern, sultry drawl, and a large portion of The Ettes’ material displays Hames’ femininity, whether she’s embracing the scuzzy beats and bass of her compatriots, or striving for a beauty that is more ideal. Hames, not an idealist by her own admission, spoke to American Songwriter before venturing to SXSW. The band, including bassist “Jem” Cohen and drummer “Poni” Silver, relocated to Nashville last year.

Congrats on releasing your new EP today, Danger Is.
Thank you, glad it’s out there.

How’s Nashville?
Really good, everyone’s really nice here and we’ve had some good shows and a really good time finishing our 3rd album. Now we’re getting ready for SXSW.

Wanted to ask about how you guys write songs — as a songwriter, would you say you’ve followed a songwriting formula on all your output thus far?
We definitely do repeat a formula, for the most part. Like I’ll get a bare idea, then we get together and turn it into something more, like add beats that drive it the best way. So it’ll start out as a skeleton of the song that I come up with and then sometimes Jem our bassist will come up with riffs. It always starts our very small.

As a songwriter, are your “receptors” always turned on, or is it something you deliberately control and are able to turn off.
Oh I wish I could turn it off because it can be really distracting. I know that every writer should be regimented and I know it’s true that it makes it easier, would probably work and yield more songs, but I’m lazy and I write it when it happens. I envy people who can decide when to write because I’ll be like watching a movie and get interrupted…

A lot of songs have a story about how they came to be; do you have a favorite tale of how one of your songs came to be?
No, I don’t think so. My favorite song is always where a lyrical idea fits well with melody and it becomes a full communication, but it doesn’t always happen like that. Sometimes the sound of the music will be completely opposite from what the lyrics are saying…

I was just thinking about how you might hear Brian Wilson interviewed, telling some elaborate story as to what inspired a song off Pet Sounds or something…
Yeah sometimes I think a lot of those stories are made up or elaborated.

So you’re refusing to make up a story about one of your songs?
Yeah, sorry!

That’s ok, that’s a good thing. You guys are playing SXSW this year, have you ever been to Austin?We have been there a bunch. It’s our third time for SXSW, really looking forward to it. We’re always running into different people and seeing friends we have there. And I’m always reminded how crazy it gets.

Is there something in particular that you’re really looking forward to?
We love Cheapo Discs. Our friends run it and we’re doing a show there as part of a day of music where you just watch music and drink beer. It’s off the SXSW grid, an unofficial thing that we really enjoy and are looking forward to.

Any bands you’re excited about seeing?
I’m sure there are but I haven’t looked at the list yet. The list takes forever to form so I haven’t seen the final lineup yet.

I Heard there was a band that contains (ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist) James Iha and a Hanson brother called Tinted Windows.
Oh wow, that’s crazy. I was talking about Iha the other day, whether he wrote “Today” or if Corgan did. Tinted Windows sounds kind of like a super group.

SXSW has become pretty big.
I know, I’m always wondering when’s it going to reach critical mass and it won’t be fun anymore. But it’s definitely still great now.

Check out The Ettes’ profile on American Songspace


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