Trophy Wives had always wanted to start a band. At first it was a joke, but it wasn’t long before they were buying secondhand instruments from creeps off Craigslist and writing 30-second long songs. Rachael Boswell, drummer and proclaimed ‘sweet’ girl of the group, says anyone quick to write off Trophy Wives’ sound as “angry girl punk” should reconsider.
“We’re more like an aggressive, ‘get-your-feelings-out’ kind of band,” says Boswell. “We’re out there, sweaty, [a] really non-traditional girl band,” adds Emma Ledgerwood, the bassist and admittedly most intense member of the four-person band. Madison Davis on vocals rounds out the group on the sexy end of the ‘girls with attitude’ spectrum.
Citing bands like Bikini Kill as good excuses to do whatever they want, their guitarist is Van Tyler Mills from The Anxiety Junkies, another local punk band familiar with the house show circuit. “Originally, Madison was going to play guitar and sing, but eventually we realized she was really strong without an instrument,” says Ledgerwood, who agrees that the group is less about keeping boys out and more about creating an equalized experience for men and women in the punk scene.
“Tyler is teaching us how to convey the emotions we actually want to convey. He has more experience in music theory and in starting a band. He helps give us the sound that we sometimes know that we want and sometimes don’t know we want until we hear it,” says Ledgerwood.
“We wanted it to be more of a performance — an experience,” remarks Davis, who says that people should expect “chaos” from their show on Thursday. “It’s more fun when there’s a vocalist or a guitarist moving around and interacting with the crowd.”
Trophy Wives are right. Punk music should be about the experience of the show just as much — or even more than — the music itself. They’re confident in the fact that their “prime time” for songs currently hits at about a minute because they know they’ll be bringing it as hard as they can, even if it sucks.
“Ultimately that’s not really the point of anything we do — to sound “right” about it,” says Ledgerwood, who was inspired by a catcalling incident to write a song entitled “Piggy” where she describes herself as the butcher who wants to cut out the catcaller’s eyes. “We just want to sound how we wanna sound and do what we wanna do,” she continues. “If it sounds like shit? Well, we wanted someone to be screaming the whole time. And we wanted the song to be 10 seconds long. We don’t care.”
Boswell adds that it initially wasn’t ever about the music, but about the things they wanted to communicate to others through artistic expression. “Music just happened to be the connecting factor of it all,” she states, adding that, “Tyler is really supportive of everything we do.”
Throughout the interview, Mills draws in his sketchbook, looking up to tell the girls not to curse and mentioning his family’s history in music during their college days. Although quiet, it’s clear that he represents a sort of backbone to the group as they find their sound.
“Even though we pull from feminist core values, feminism is slowly turning into equalism, so who even cares if we have a dude in our band?” Davis adds, acknowledging Mills’ ability to add a lot to the group without discrediting their work as women in a male-dominated scene.
“We hope that people – with having Tyler in our band, that we want to maintain a female presence. We don’t want people to be like ‘there’s a dude in [their] band that’s why they’re good!’” says Boswell.
That being said, Trophy Wives agree that it’s not so much about tearing down dudes to feel better about their isolation as female punk musicians. “We’re also careful not to degrade men in the process,” says Boswell, who argues that only two of their eleven-song set is explicitly about feminist issues.
“We’ve tried super hard to not become that typical girl band. We’re trying to be real without feeding into the stereotype. There’s a lot of other things we have to say because that’s not all there is to us,” says Ledgerwood, who is the star of the song “Coca-Cola Edge” which describes her choices not to do drugs or drink alcohol and instead get a little wild off Coca-Cola at parties.
And as much as they might seem nonchalant about their immersion or acceptance into the local punk scene, it’s obvious they’re all eager to develop their sound through practice and playing shows. “We want to be a part of something that’s really awesome,” says Ledgerwood. “We’ve been going to shows and we love it so much and we want to be a part of it. But sometimes it feels like girls are wanting something in a scene to happen and they just wait for someone else to do it.”
Trophy Wives aren’t waiting any longer. Their set during Friday’s show with Toxic Shock, Forced Entry, and The Anxiety Junkies should be a punk refresher on what it means to do what you want, when you want it — no matter the sound, the experience, or the gender.