Interview with Melanie Vammen, Palmyra Delran, and Kim Shattuck
Most friends in the music scene dream of forming a band and playing their favorite music with their pals—sharing the stage, recording an album, and all-around spending quality time doing what they love with the people they love. This dream became a reality for super-trio The Coolies, who have been best friends for over 30 years. The three ladies released their debut six-song EP, Uh Oh! It’s… The Coolies, on July 19 via Wicked Cool Records.
“This is now the third band with Kim [Shattuck], and I love it! We are meant to be in a band together,” Melanie Vammen says, “and now, I get to do this with Palmyra [Delran] as well. They are both my greatest best friends, so the three of us getting to do it together now and enjoy this and have fun—we are giving the music we love so much to everyone else. It’s really special.”
While The Coolies might be a new project, the trio have been playing together since 1986. Whether it was Shattuck and Vammen working together on the West Coast in The Pandoras and The Muffs or Shattuck singing alongside Delran of East Coast band The Friggs after she formed a new supergroup, Bubble Gun, out West, the three decided it was finally time to bring their talents together officially.
“It was really funny how quickly this band happened,” Delran shares. “We were talking and laughing about something completely stupid and silly, and then, three seconds later, we were in a band together and we did it! We were like, ‘Duh, why didn’t we have a band together before this?’ It was like a big fat ‘duh!’”
As naturally as their friendship formed, it was just as easy working together to create Uh Oh! It’s… The Coolies, with each member pitching in vocals and playing a number of different instruments. Vammen admits that she felt free recording this album, stating that it was an incredible combination of creativity.
“We are in cahoots so much that it was short and sweet to record together,” Shattuck adds. “I’m glad it was really easy; I usually take forever to record!”
Delran also felt it was effortless. “I think there were no egos at all amongst us,” she says. “I would be like, ‘Oh, how about this?’ or Kim would ask who’s playing bass and we all just decided on the fly. It was really that open and free. I felt so free working with these two.”
Although Delran, the lone New Yorker, was not physically recording alongside L.A. women Shattuck and Vammen, the three stated that it felt as if they were working together in the same room. Delran shares how inspired she felt throughout the recording process, reminiscing about how perfect Vammen’s keyboards sounded and how beautifully Shattuck put her songs together.
“It was like I was with them. It was like I was really playing with them,” Vammen adds. “I’ve never recorded like this before, and it just felt so right and so perfect. Having them hear it gave me chills.”
If listening to Uh Oh! It’s… The Coolies doesn’t make you want to love them, The Coolies have added something even cooler to the mix. These ladies decided they wouldn’t keep a penny from the sales of their EP, donating 100 percent to the ALS Association Golden West Chapter. Shattuck says she loved “ripping it up for ALS!” The band’s members are closely affected by ALS and hope the donations will help with research to find a cure, alongside raising awareness among friends and fans.
The EP is the perfect representation of these three power pop punks, inspired by their favorite sounds in the music scene. The melodies are sweet and poppy, almost bubblegum, while their lyrics dive deeper and skew darker, akin to their favorite punk bands—like another meeting between The Archies and Ramones. Delran describes the sound of The Coolies as poppy melodies with questionable lyrics.
“I’m not entirely sure if this is bubblegum, because bubblegum is there to be corny, and I don’t quite think about it in those terms for us,” Shattuck notes. “We love it sassy! We are triple sassy girls who are really broads. So, basically, I have coined our music as ‘sassy broad music!’”
“It’s what we listen to. It’s who we are. It’s our personalities,” Vammen shares. “When you see pictures of us, that’s exactly like the music we do!”