For the founding members of Vancouver’s instrumental prog-rock outfit Trophy Wife, the quality of their music was never in doubt in their minds, but doubters and naysayers have dogged them from nearly the beginning.
Boasting members born in all different countries, they’ve essentially written off the desire to be conventional or mainstream in the current, front-man centric, homogenous rock and roll climate. But over the last four years, the number of people telling them to resign and laughably urging them to “get famous” by getting a singer has been dwarfed by the number of people hooked on the band’s intense, instrumental vibe. At first, even they were skeptical, right up until the moment they hit the stage for the first time in 2005.
“We played an open mic night at the Media Club on a Monday,” recalls bassist Darryl Greer. “We had 15 minutes on stage, and we were only doing it as an experiment to see if this stuff would fly. We were amazed at the crowd’s reaction. They loved it.”
It should have come as no surprise. The first song they played graces the band’s debut album as its opening song, entitled “Spiral Society.” From the moment guitar player Louie Anyos ripped into the track’s blistering opening riff along with drummer Pablo Stolowicz’s powerful latin-infused drum beat, people were hooked, and the band was convinced that they were onto something.
Rightly or not, the band’s sound has been described as “acid caribbean music” and compared to the likes of Rush (minus Geddy Lee’s shrills), Dream Theatre, Santana and Mahavishnu Orchestra, but it’s hard to pin down their mix of rock, funk, metal and blues set to sassy latin rhythms.
Trophy Wife essentially grew out of a chance encounter. Born in Budapest, Hungary but raised in Surrey, B.C., guitarist Anyos and Uruguay native Stolowicz had been jamming for a few months back in 2005, but weren’t having much luck finding a bass player or singer. Years earlier, when the Vancouver-born bass player was just 17, Greer had met and jammed with Stolowicz, but they didn’t keep in touch. They didn’t meet again until one day when he walked into a record store Stolowicz managed.
“Pablo recognized me and told me about this amazing guitar player,” Greer says. “I went out to jam with them once, and I heard Louie play one note and said ‘I’m in.’”
Eventually, they added keyboard player Esteban Carballo who performed with the band for nearly a year and a half before returning to his native Argentina for a job as a commercial airline pilot. Luckily, the band recorded three tracks on their debut album featuring Carballo on the ivories, including the tango-meets-pink-floyd-prog epic “Moving On.”
In early 2009, a few months into recording their new album, the band added percussionist Fernando Torres, who had recently left his home and a human-rights law practice, in his native Lima, Peru and his sound has only brought Trophy Wife more appeal.
Slowly but steadily, the band has made believers out of legions of people who simply didn’t know they would like an instrumental act, that is, until they heard Trophy Wife.