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The Trash Bags

Jun 11, 2019

By Katherine Turman

Photos by Johan Vipper /// Words by Katherine Turman

“Let’s do some crimes!” spew the Trash Bags with a speedy, Cramps-y punk rock sneer. It’s an offer you wanna take the band up on. In 2019, the quartet symbolizes New York City in a time before $5 lattes; the era when rock stars outnumbered tourists on St. Marks (because: Trash and Vaudeville), back in those late, lamented days when still Richard Hell still played music. 

The Trash Bags’ self-proclaimed “gar-bage rock” doesn’t stink. Short and to the point songs like the aforementioned “Crimes,” along with “Johnny White Stuff,” “Hot Stuff” and ‘Victim” are low-fi finery that will be heard on the band’s upcoming debut—not to mention live, gigging with bands like Billie Joe Armstrong’s The Longshots.  

Trash Bags Singer Chuck Bones and guitarist Elisa Maldonado are co-founders of cult New York clothing label and shop, The Cast, established 2004. The store shares an aesthetic with the band, as evidenced by The Cast’s descriptior: “The Cast embraces their intimate knowledge of New York City’s Blank Generation to give classic American symbols of rebellion a modern twist. Outsiders Welcome.”  

A recent concert review in RockNYC pegged the Trash Bags, calling them “voracious and badass,” raving over their “old-school garage rock ‘n’ roll sound, with deep beach-goth guitar lines and punk accelerations.” Singer Chuck Bones got no small kudos either, referred to as a “killer-looking frontman, who was as tightly wrapped in his black leather jacket and pants as an Elvis Presley come-back.” The band, rounded out by Lyla Vander (drums); and Tito (bass), gave ALICE the low-down. 

Who is in Trash Bags, and where are you all from?  How did you meet and form the band?

Chuck Bones: I’m originally from New Jersey. I moved to New York in 2002 but I used to come to shows here when I was in high school. Elisa and I met here in New York 10 years ago at Motor City Bar (R.I.P.) We always wanted to start a band but then we had two kids and, well you know how that goes.  Lyla is a born and bred New Yorker, from Manhattan. Tito and Elisa are from Southern California. They actually went to their prom together with their boyfriend/girlfriend at the time. Hilarious. Tito lives on the same block as The Cast so we’d see him every day. Elisa and Lyla were playing together in the B-Girls reunion gigs so we all got together and jammed. We’ve been having a blast!

Who came up with the name and why? 

Elisa Maldonado:It’s a term of endearment for friends and our lifestyle in general. It’s slang for party animals! 

What previous bands have you all been in? Who were your influences, musical and otherwise?

CB: I never played in bands but it was something I was always wanted to do. I always loved Iggy, Stiv, The Cramps, Ramones, The Gun Club. The usual. Tito has played before with Sisu,Young Boys, & Vile Existence. Lyla stays pretty busy, she also plays with Chorizo, Roya, and Ice Balloons.

EM: I was in a shitty punk band when I was a teenager, as most are. I put it down for a long time, but always went to shows etc. finally I said fuck this. I wanna play again!

What does the 50/50 male/female makeup of the band bring to the table?

CB: I dig the balance, it’s way more exotic. Keeps things spicy.

What was the sonic goal of the Trash Bags?

EM: To deliver a quick punch in the gut! 

I’ve only found one song, “Too Bad” on soundcloud… will that be on your album? Is it your debut album? 

CB: Yes, “Too Bad” will be on there. We’re gonna be on Muddguts Records, you heard it here first! They’re a killer new record label from Brooklyn. 

Tell me about the lyrics and the writing of “Too Bad”? What’s the process?

CB:Yeah, its kinda dark and swampy, a bit lonely but I think we’ve all been there so we can all relate. Elisa writes mostly everything, I throw some lyrics together for her.

You did a cover of a Gun Club song live… will there be any covers on your album? What other covers do you do live?

CB: We recorded “Sex Beat”  by The Gun Club, but not sure yet if we’re putting it out. We’ve done a few others live before from GG Allin, Misfits, The Undertones, The Sonics a few others. Covers are always a blast to play! Songs you wish you wrote.

How many shows have you played, and do you have touring plans for 2019?

CB: We’ve only maybe done about 25-30 shows but plan on doing a whole lot more this year. 

Are you part of a scene in NYC? Describe the current scene, the major players and vibe of it?

CB: The rock n roll scene here in New York is pretty small. We mostly all know each other. Brooklyn has a ton of fun venues these days. Some of the bands I really like from here are Escape-ism (Ian Svenonius), Daddy Long Legs, Dirty Fences, Beechwood, Isolation Society, & Surfbort. They’re all super fun in their own right. Ian Svenonius is a genius. There’s a bunch more bands coming up right now. 

Are you nostalgic for an earlier time in NY? Talk about your favorite era and characters in the city of yore, and why. 

CB: Oh yeah of course. If you’re into this kind of stuff then you love everything that came before our time. Rock ‘n ‘ roll wasn’t born in New York City but punk rock was. There’ll never be another time like the 70’s/80’s New York punk scene. Everybody from Ramones, Richard Hell, Jim Carroll, Philippe Marcade, there’s too many to name. Everything from the music, the poetry, the shithole streets and venues, the junkie-ism, all of it will never get old to me. I eat that shit up. Elisa and I pay homage to it all by doing The Cast, our clothing label and shop on the Lower East Side. We help celebrate a lot of the local NYC photographers/musicians with book signings here at the shop, people like David Godlis, Marcia Resnick, Philippe Marcade to name a few. 

Who are some of the celebs who have shopped at The Cast? Do you see the shop branching out in any ways, if so, how? 

CB: We’ve made custom leather for a few people like Scarlett Johansson, Madonna, B Akerlund, Boyd Holbrook, Billie Joe, Tre Cool. We’ve even made Triple H custom leathers for the last 3 Wrestlemania’s. 

Do you ever go above 14th street? (ha!)

CB: Haha. Yeah usually only to our factory where we make our jackets in the garment district. We’ll go to museums and whatnot on occasion.

Give us a little “tour” of “your” NYC… what are your favorite places to eat? Fave places to go with kids? Favorite Sunday afternoon activities?

CB: Cafe Mogador, Scarrs Pizza, Punjabi on Houston for food. HOWL Gallery always has cool shit going on. 

To see more Trash Bags, Follow them on Instagram @thetrashbags

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