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Interview: Coco and Poni of the Ettes (From Austin City Limits 2010)

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The Ettes are a family that have followed each other across the United States and around the world, even when they didn’t know each other.
Lead singer Coco, grew up in central Florida. Bassist Jem moved from New Jersey to Florida when he was 12. Drummer Poni moved to Florida from Queens, New York during her early years as well. They all lived within the same vicinity of each other. Frequenting the same places, seeing the same shows, yet never meeting. It wasn’t until Coco and Poni moved out to L.A. that they finally met at a shop where they both worked. The two quickly became friends and their shared love for music turned into the desire to form a band.

Coco sang and played guitar, and Poni took up drums specifically for the band, learning how to play in just a few weeks. “I took a couple lessons, and was like, I got it, but I didn’t,” Poni said about learning to play. “I had so much to learn.”

That was back in 2004. Six years later, The Ettes are as strong as ever, in the middle of touring and mixing their latest album.

“A lot,” Coco responded simply when asked how the band had grown since its inception. “I don’t know which way, upside, down or around, but we have evolved,” Poni added.

Indeed, the group’s evolution was apparent as they performed at Austin City Limits to a throng of happy music lovers.

Poni, as she attacked the drums with vicious precision, looked as if she had been playing them all her life. Coco played guitar and sang effortlessly, with great presence and power. Jem undergirded the band on bass, providing heavy, energetic lines that added to the overall urgency that is The Ettes’ music. Johnny, a recent addition to the band, rounded out the Ettes’ stage presence, further adding to the their raw, melodic sound.

“We just like putting things together and playing,” Coco, said describing the band’s style. On stage, their many tastes manifested as grungy, garage punk, and rock ‘n’ roll. Their in your face style of performance was infectious and got many people in the crowd dancing.

Austin City Limits marks the midway point in The Ettes’ touring schedule. This past year they toured with The Dead Weather and will be off to Los Angeles and New York for more tour dates. The touring that The Ettes have done over the past six years has taken them all over the world and left them with many places that they love and call home.

“The world is our home,” Poni said, “But Nashville, Tennessee is where we pay taxes right now,” she finished with a smile.

The group is also completing work on their new album; Dan Aurbache, of the Black Keys helped The Ettes with production on several songs.

“Their good buddies,” Coco said of the Black Keys. “Working with them was easy. Really easy and quick.”

The Ette’s fourth full-length album will be available to the public this Spring.

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About Jelani Sims