The Coathangers and L.A. Witch are no strangers to joining forces. Both groups have toured with each other and are label mates on Suicide Squeeze. They’ve now teamed up on One Way or the Highway, a double single featuring The Coathangers’ cover of Blondie’s “One Way or Another” and L.A. Witch’s version of The Gun Club’s “Ghost on the Highway.” What’s unique about this release is how complementary these covers are to the original songs and each other.
“We wanted to do something fun while we were in isolation and not touring,” says Julia Kugel-Montoya of The Coathangers. “Through a chat with David [Dickenson] of Suicide Squeeze, we decided to combine forces and pay homage to our heroes.”
“They asked if we wanted to do a split and cover a Gun Club song,” Sade Sanchez of L.A. Witch says. “Of course, being a huge fan of The Gun Club and of The Coathangers, and being label family, it just made so much sense to do it.”
“I definitely have always been down to work with The Coathangers,” says Ellie English, also of L.A. Witch. “I love them as people and as a band.”
Recording took place separately. This is partly why they chose to record covers instead of an original song together.
“Since our band members live in three different states, the idea of writing a new song was too difficult logistically,” says Kugel-Montoya. “It was cool to still feel so connected, even with such distance between us.”
For The Coathangers, their connection to Blondie’s music inspired their song choice. As Kugel-Montoya explains:
“Our last show was [February] 2020 during NY Fashion Week, where we performed Blondie covers at the Coach runway show, with Debbie Harry herself joining us for a life-changing rendition of ‘Dreaming.’ Recording it felt like a reliving of a highlight of our career as a band. Something positive during a very dark time.”
As for L.A. Witch, Sanchez attributes the decision to cover The Gun Club from that band’s early influences on their sound.
“Growing up loving punk rock music and being from L.A., The Gun Club was a huge influence on me,” Sanchez says. “Also, the first time I saw The Coathangers play, they covered ‘Sex Beat,’ and I remember that’s when I fell in love with them.”
“It’s challenging to do a cover and make it your own thing,” adds Sanchez. “You wanna do the original justice, you know? We approached the song in so many different ways, like tried to slow it down or play the rhythm differently. We even tried it with a drum machine. I like covers where the band makes it sound like their version of the song. For example, when the Jesus and Mary Chain covered Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love?’ or when Joan Jett did ‘Crimson and Clover’ by Tommy James & The Shondells.”
Both groups seem open to making music together again at some point.
“I sure hope we can work with The Coathangers again,” says English. “I’m sure we will,”
“Can’t wait for the next one!” says Sanchez.
“It has been so fun to work with our label mates L.A. Witch on this seven-inch!” says Kugel-Montoya. “We share a mutual respect and appreciation for each other’s music. Feels awesome to pay homage to our label Suicide Squeeze, our label mates, and of course, Blondie and Debbie Harry for being pioneers of cool.”
Check out The Coathangers’ “One Way Or Another” here:
Check out L.A. Witch’s “Ghost on the Highway” here:
Photo courtesy of Bradley Hale and Robin Laananen