There are many reasons people keep coming back to the Trunk Space, and it's not necessarily because of the music (although that is the biggest reason).
There's the whole sense of community that's developed around the DIY gallery and venue, which has become a wayward home and all-inclusive haven for underground and outsider artists, newbie musicians, colorful oddities, and other misfit toys for those who didn't seem to fit in elsewhere.
The Trunk Space and its co-owners, Stephanie Carrico and JRC, have developed such a loyalty among friends and fans that there are about 20 people who have its street address (1506) tattooed on their bodies.
It's one of many unique Trunk Space-related stories that we heard while assembling our recently published oral history of the Grand Avenue venue. We caught up with many of the musicians and artists over the past 10 years who have made their way through Trunk Space's now-infamous red door to play at the space, attend a show, or just hang out.
And while we included as many stories and quotes as we could in the piece, there was a lot that we (naturally) had to leave out. What follows are many Trunk Space-related anecdotes and tales that we recorded and are now sharing as B-sides of sorts, including yarns from Andrew Jackson Jihad's Ben Gallaty on a special party bus, as well as stores from former Valley resident (and Trunk Space regular) Brodie Foster Hubbard, and musician Liam Murtagh, whose wedding officiated by JRC in the space.
Oh, yeah, and we even have a tale about the venue's infamous neighbor who's been a nemesis of sorts and has constantly called the cops because of Trunk Space's perceived "wickedness."
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Ben Gallaty (Andrew Jackson Jihad): There's a point in time when there was a lot of ASU kids and people who were new to Phoenix, and they came in this party bus and parked it right next to Trunk Space and they all went to Bikini Lounge. Knowing that, Sean [Bonnette] and a few other friends, I can't remember who was all there were just talking about the party bus guy and I think they just walked on to the party bus and acted like they were supposed to be there.
I mean, I think they tried to, and the party bus driver pulled a knife on them and said the perfect line: 'Don't party near my party bus!" Someone even did a block print of that and it had the actual quote. I missed that one, though. I wasn't there.
Ryan Avery (Fathers Day): The lady that owns the junkyard behind the Trunk Space goes through waves of trying to get Beatrice Moore's businesses shutdown because she doesn't like Beatrice and so during that time she was really coo-coo and would drive past the Trunk Space really slowly and take photos of anything, even if there was just a big group of people hanging out in the parking lot. She would take photos and be like, "You guys are doing something wicked here!"
I remember in the first three or four years of the Trunk Space being active, they used to have shows run a lot longer. Most shows would run until one or two in the morning and it seems like once people are awake past a certain hour everyone just gets more loosey-goosey and slaphappy. I have a lot of weird, fun memories of that time from performing in front of 12 people at four in the morning and just feeling like it was one of the greatest things ever. In the recent years, Steph and JRC have really cracked down on trying to get shows out of there before midnight.
Phil Buckman (I Hate You When You're Pregnant): "Location is a huge part of the appeal for a venue like Trunk Space. I will not lie, I LOVE going to shows there, due to it's close proximity to the Bikini Lounge! I also think that Trunk Space exhibits art that other galleries would shy away from. In Arizona, there's a tendency to favor that overwhelming Southwest theme (turquoise, cow skulls, Sonoran sunsets, etc.), but Phoenix has some great artists that really speak to the weird urban environment. Trunk Space caters to that other side. One time, while playing, I asked if I could play the antique piano, which looked of the cusp of ruin. They were happy to let this big drunk guy put his grimy fingers all over it!
Liam Murtagh (Liam and the Ladies) on the weirdest thing he's seen at Trunk Space: I could say not necessarily the weirdest but the most shocking was seeing this band. They are known for being super-outrageous, but they had a dude on tour with them whose only job in the band was just to be real fucking gross, and he literally got a grocery bag and took a shit in it while the band was playing and just tied it up. Pretty much everybody left at that point. Everyone thought he was joking at first, but then he actually put weight in the bag and everyone was like, "Oh, you weren't joking at all. Oh, that's disgusting."
Erin Caldwell (Dogbreth) on JRC and Stephanie Carrico: Whenever we play a tour kickoff at the Trunk Space, Steph and JRC put together a sweet collection of snacks and bottled water for us to take along. It's gestures like this that make TS more than a venue, but a valuable support for those taking risks for the things they love.
Brodie Foster Hubbard (former Valley resident/musician): Ryan McKee and Ron Babcock used to run a group called Modest Proposal. I was a part of promoting events and writing for the zine. We had a sketch night there once where there was a prop gun. Somebody saw it through the windows and thought there was a hostage situation. The police came. I think JRC was just wandering outside at the exact wrong moment and got pushed up against a wall and frisked.
Once, there was a band I booked -- who shall remain nameless -- who, for whatever reason, had drawn very poorly that night. The members were being very obnoxious and JRC was really annoyed. He did not want them to play, and I did not want to cause a rift by telling them they couldn't. So I went up to them, gave them money from my own wallet, and said, "The Trunk Space is paying you NOT to play tonight." They were thrilled. It was worth it to them for the sake of the story (and the money they wouldn't have got otherwise).
Zach Burba (iji): I have a billion memories at the Trunk Space that, at this point, seem unreal. I was introduced to so many people that are now major parts of my life and music just by chance that we were both playing one night. Maybe the biggest example of this was getting to know my best friend and longest musical collaborator, Tristan Jemsek. We just started talking about music one night and never stopped. Here we are, 10 years later, living across the country but still playing together all the time.
Abe Gil (Treasure Mammal): Whenever Mark Erickson was assisting in our Treasure Mammal performances it was always special. For one show he thought it would be awesome if he held a bag Golden Crisp cereal up to a fan so it blow all over the crowd, but instead it just got all over the floor and made the whole floor extremely sticky and difficult to dance on.
In another instance, Mark thought that it would be funny if he fell asleep when we were setting up and he continued to sleep for the first couple of songs. Eventually, I got everyone at the show to pick him up and force him to crowd surf. It was awesome.
Jason Anderson (singer-songwriter): "I have loved playing shows in Phoenix from the very first one, opening up for Atom and His Package and Sixty Stories at Modified. From that point forward, PHX felt like home, and I was subsequently very loyal to Modified and Leslie Barton. Coming to town truly felt like coming home. There was--and continues to be--something about the Phoenix scene that not only connects deeply with me on an artistic and personal level, but also just makes me happy. I'm not sure how to describe it other than to say that everyone I have met there has been so earnest, passionate, friendly.
It's really as inspiring as it is refreshing, and those nights of seeing and being massively inspired by The Galactic Federation of Love, Golden Boots, French Quarter, Asleep in the Sea, Andrew Jackson Jihad and others are some of my fondest musical memories (to say nothing of much more recent love affairs with groups like Diners, Dogbreth, Iji, Dragons, Where Are All the Buffalo?, Logan Greene, [and] Sinbad).
Needless to say, when Modified started phasing out live music I was profoundly saddened. It was the only place I had ever played in Phoenix and while I had heard nothing but great things about this new(er) venue, Trunk Space, I was honestly somewhat skeptical. All it took, though, literally, was stepping inside and meeting Steph and JRC. Sold. Immediately.
All at once it felt wholly right. Honestly, as someone who has been booking their own tours since 1999, I will not hesitate to name those two as easily--easily--some of the nicest, warmest, most open and supportive and straight up fun promoters I have ever worked with. I feel very lucky to consider them friends and could not be more proud as they celebrate ten years.
Teague Cullen (Foot Ox): Music is a force for a deeper communication. Industrial culture wants to harvest music from the people and sell it back to them as a commodity, and so, It needs some protection. For me, the Trunk Space was my church, a space for a deeper communication, and the kids I met as a result, who shared these experiences, continue to be my best friends on the planet. My favorite thing about the Trunk Space, is that they knew all this, before I did.
Hubbard: I was starting to go through a pretty bad divorce, and there was a tiny bit of overlap between that process and the beginning of what, in hindsight, was definitely a rebound relationship with someone who would perform at the space. There were definitely too many mutual friends for whom this new situation would be kind of a scandal. We kept it hidden for a little while, but of course my ex knew about it and it sealed the deal for us being through.
And then the rebound situation blew up, in part because the new girlfriend went to a Trunk Space game night without me and lied about it! She was later part of a charity auction at Trunk Space, and when the auctioneer's question was posed, "What price is her company worth?" a heckler in the know yelled out, "Brodie's marriage?"
Murtagh: My wife (Emily Spetrino-Murtagh) and I were married there. We had our baby shower there for our older son. Almost every big life event has been at the Trunk Space. Steph and J are the reason we even opened up our first business, which is a little record store. We were looking for a house, actually. We had money to buy a house and it just kept falling through and Steph and J said, "Why don't you just open a business?" We had talked about this idea we had so Trunk Space has been in ways that are not necessarily music related, a huge guiding point in our life.
JRC married us. It was cool because it was literally a one-day-notice thing. Every day, we tried to pick and plan a wedding wasn't working out, so we were just like, "Fuck it, we'll just get married tomorrow." And we called J and he said, "Yeah, I can marry you guys tomorrow at the Trunk Space, but we have tango lessons at 7, so we have to do it early." We had everybody show up at 5:30, and we had the afternoon, and it was just us standing in the middle of the room and the family and friends that could make it out were all standing around us in a circle so it was really awesome."
The Trunk Space's Indie 500 concert series runs nightly through Wednesday, April 9.
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