INTERVIEW: Tony Ash talks about the Trophy Wives (and teaches you to make love).

7/31/10, photo by Dawn Geary in My Photos by  
Pictured Above:  Tony Ash uses the power of his bass to teleport his entire band through time!
If you are at all a fan of Louisville punk or indie of the last fifteen years, you have almost certainly been a fan of something that Tony Ash has been a part of.  From some of his earliest work with The Blue Collar Revenge Theory, to the mighty Coliseum, through the energetic Nixon, and on to his current band The Trophy Wives, Ash has developed a reputation not only as a competent and go-to multi-instrumentalist, but as a reliable contributor to whatever project he sets is mind to.  The Trophy Wives are playing tomorrow night, Saturday, September 29th at Zanzabar with freshman act Skin Tone opening.  Learn more about that here.
Never Nervous:  What’s going on with Trophy Wives now?  Any recordings or shows coming up?

Tony Ash:  We’re currently in the studio recording the as-of-yet-untitled follow-up to our debut album, Old Scratch. We are also preparing to do a very short recording session next month at Kevin Ratterman’s new studio for a split 7″ with a new Louisville band called Temple of the Golden Dawn. Beyond that….just playing as much as possible, writing even more new material, etc. Our planned European tour for this fall fell through kind of unceremoniously, but we’re doing our best to not dwell on it, and simply book as many shows as we can during the time we were intending to be gone.

NN:   How do you see the role of the guitarist and bassist, having played both?

TA:  Traditionally speaking, the guitars are supposed to be out front while the bass is supposed to be in the background, in sync with the drums. I get that, and I respect that, but I don’t necessarily buy into it completely. In TW, I do absolutely try to lock in with what the drums are playing all of the time. A good rhythm section is the backbone of any great band. Without that, you’ve got nothing. Having played guitar in bands for several years before I got into bass, I think I brought a lot of what I knew about guitar to playing bass. Which is why I’m not always content to just be that dude laying down the low end in the back. I don’t know….there’s no unpretentious sounding way to answer this, but I’ll just say that I try my best to bridge the gap between the drums and the guitars, between rhythm and lead. Sometimes it’ll require very little, sometimes I get to go a little wild.

NN:   Do you ever find yourself missing being the guitarist in a band?

TA:  Not really. I still play guitar at home and I sometimes write riffs to our songs on guitar. But bass just fits me better, in every way. It seems to come way more naturally, whereas with guitar I have to think about it and concentrate. And I’m a fucking sloppy guitarist, haha. Have you heard that early Coliseum stuff? I suck.

NN:   I know Trophy Wives have toured a lot recently. What’s the best show you’ve played out of town and why, with Trophy Wives or anyone else?

TA:  It’s no secret that I love playing in Chicago. Some of our favorite folks reside in Chicago. We always get treated wonderfully there, our shows are consistently great, and it’s just always a fun time. My favorite would have to be the last time we played there. There is an annual (sometimes bi-annual or even tri-annual) gathering (not “TheGathering of the Juggalos,” mind you, nor “Magic: The Gathering“) called the PRF BBQ. It’s a whole weekend of nonstop music, grilling, chilling, and all around great times, and we’re typically included in the festivities. The community it caters to is based around the forums on the Electrical Audio website, of which I am a member. Anyway, so we got asked to play this most recent one in Chicago. The highlight for me was that we got to play with Tar, who are my favorite Touch and Go/AmRep band of that whole 90’s era. They reunited after something like a 14 year hiatus, and my band gets to open for them. So, that was a good day. It has to be noted that the time I got to play at the Troubadour in L.A. with Coliseum, back in 2004 or so, was a huge deal to me as well. Bands play there every day, I know this. But having grown up hearing tales of this legendary venue, then…BOOM, you’re onstage there, that was a cool experience.

NN:   What would you say your band is about?

TA:  I don’t think we have an agenda. We’re just a handful of late-twenties/early-thirties Louisville guys, all of whom have played in a fuck ton of bands throughout our lives, who ultimately came together through a shared love of playing music, traveling, drinking beer and hanging out.

NN:   I know you love musical gear. What’s your favorite toy recently and why?

TA:  I really haven’t bought anything recently. My ultimate favorite piece of gear though is my Thunderbird bass, which I haven’t had for too long so I guess it sort of counts as a recent acquisition. It’s an Epiphone Elitist model Thunderbird, crafted in Japan around 2003 or so in the old Orville factory. They tried to replicate the vintage 70’s Gibson Thunderbirds, and they came pretty close. Unlike your typical Epi Thunderbird, mine has a set neck (or neck through, unsure) like the Gibsons, so the sustain is really over the top. It has the ridiculous huge bird shaped headstock. All of the hardware and pickups are chrome. It’s just a really cool, striking bass, and I’ve fallen in love with it. I’ve been using it to record the new album and everyone has been really impressed with how it sounds. I get tons of compliments and questions about it on the road too.

NN:   What’s going on with Nixon?

TA:  As far as I’m concerned that ship has sailed and, wherever it was heading, I opted to not take the ride. I don’t know if they plan to continue in any way, shape or form, but I made the decision after much personal deliberation to bow out. Nixon was a great band and I mostly had fun being part of it. I’m really glad we pulled it back together for a brief time last winter and spring and managed to get a handful of the final songs we ever wrote recorded for posterity. But I prefer to dedicate myself to one band and one band only, and right now…for many reasons, Nixon isn’t it.

NN:  What’s the best song you’ve ever written or played on and why?

TA:  My favorite is always the most recent. So, the new song we’ve been fleshing out at practice is, currently, the best song I’ve ever written or played on.

NN:   Any music recommendations you’d like to share?

TA:  Police Teeth, from Seattle/Bellingham, WA. Solid friends of ours. These guys are one of the best bands going right now, so check them out. The new ZZ Top stuff is completely killer and worth a listen. The first four Cheap Trick albums are essential listening for anyone who plays rock music of any sort. I’ve been on a massive Hellacopters kick lately as well. Locally, I’m digging Anwar Sadat and Neighbor quite a bit, and of course there are old standbys like Crain and OUT. who I’ll never get tired of.