Concert Reviews

Trophy Wives' Tony Ash: "Fugazi Was Actually My First Show Ever"

Louisville, Kentucky four-piece Trophy Wives are giving DFW a treat this week. Not only are they playing Andy's Bar in Denton tonight with Bad Design, they're also playing Double Wide on Thursday with Nervous Curtains and Descender. They'll be previewing material from their album Old Scratch, so don't moan about missing them. We talked with bassist Tony Ash about his musical firsts, including Fugazi, Black Flag and Louisville's famed Slint.

Who was the first band you obsessed over? Like a lot of people my age, I was completely obsessed with Nirvana around the time they entered the cultural mainstream in 1991. It was amazing to me to hear this band of normal looking guys who were capable of writing these extremely catchy yet heavy, powerful songs. I hate to sound cheesy, but I guess it spoke to me, or something. I had no inkling of the American underground music scene at that time, being an 11-year-old kid in a small Indiana town. But my obsession with and devotion to Nirvana eventually led me to discover other great bands of that era, like the Jesus Lizard, Melvins, Mudhoney and so on.

What was the first CD you bought with your own money? My memory is hazy on this, but I'm pretty certain it was Fugazi's Steady Diet of Nothing. My best friend in middle school had made me a mixtape of assorted punk, hardcore, etc., and on that tape was a Fugazi song. I thought it was one of the greatest songs I had ever heard, but I had no clue what it was called because the cassette had no song listing with it. So, I went out and just bought the first Fugazi CD that I came upon. Turns out the song in question was "Smallpox Champion," and the album I was seeking was In On the Killtaker. But whatever, I ended up getting really into Steady Diet too.

Did you ever get to see Fugazi live? Fugazi was actually my first show ever. In 1995 or 1996, I saw them when they came through Louisville with the Make*Up and Branch Manager. That show made me want to play music. It was a life-changing moment.

What was the first album that let you down? Black Flag's My War album. It's not that I don't think it's a good record, because I do own it and I do put it on from time to time. You know, it's okay. But, it always seemed to be revered by everyone as this amazing landmark album, and upon first listen, I just didn't get it. I greatly prefer Slip It In.

What's the worst show that you played? I suppose our first show would be the first one that springs to my mind. We had decided to play a show out of town before we made our Louisville debut, just to test the waters. So, we arranged a show in nearby Indianapolis with a couple of local bands. Despite the fact that we were an out-of-town band playing onstage for literally the first time, we somehow ended up with the headlining slot. Naturally, the room cleared out before we had hit a note. The only people left in attendance were my sister, brother-in-law and an elderly drunk man who banged his head relentlessly and, afterward, likened us to Mötley Crüe and Danzig. The latter part of this story was actually really funny, and that guy entertained us to no end. But overall, yeah, that's probably the worst show.

What do you remember about the first Trophy Wives' show? I remember drunkenly vowing to never, if avoidable, play another show like that again.

Have to ask, since you're in a band with Billy Bisig: Did you ever see his old band, Elliott? I saw Elliott many, many times, before Billy had joined the band. They used to play on all sorts of local shows when they were starting out. After a while I kind of stopped following them. Billy was only in the band for a brief time right at the end.

Lastly, since Trophy Wives is from Louisville, were you ever into Slint? I actually knew nothing of Slint until a few years ago. I mean, I knew the name, and that they were regarded as sort of a big deal. But I never bothered to check them out until maybe five years ago. Spiderland is a fantastic album.

Trophy Wives play tonight, July 11, at Andy's Bar and Thursday, July 12, at Double Wide.

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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs