Someone in the audience at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe last September heckled Sasami Ashworth during her opening set for The Breeders.
Defiant, she declared into the mic, “I like how this front row is like Yelp.” And after every song for the rest of her set, she called out the bullies.
In the lobby after the show, a drunken man confronted her in the lobby.
“He just came over to the merch table and threw all my merch on the ground,” she recalled. “Security had to kick him out.”
The road can be tough for opening acts, Ashworth — who goes by her first name — lamented; people aren’t usually there to watch the opener.
“That’s kind of the hardest gig to do is open for a band,” Ashworth said. “If you can win over a headliner’s crowd it’s always a good time.”
Since that show last fall, Ashworth released her debut eponymous album for Domino Recording Company. She is now playing gigs around the country to promote the record.
Ashworth wasn’t planning to make an album and tour behind it. She said she just wanted to make music for fun and get away from playing the synthesizer and get back to her “electric guitar roots.”
“I wanted to make an album I would improve with,” she said. “I didn’t want to just write basic guitar parts. I wanted to write parts that were challenging to me so that by the time I have to tour it for two years, I don’t get tired of it.”
For inspiration, she turned to the sounds of Stereolab, My Bloody Valentine, post-punk and Krautrock. She focused on the narrative with just a guitar and vocal track echoing Liz Phair’s “Girly Sound” demos for the single “Free,” which she described as “a personal relationship that didn’t go well and kind of just reclaiming my power by realizing that, actually, maybe the other person bailing on me was the best thing that could’ve happened.”
“Freedom is not even a consolation prize but like the ultimate prize,” she said.
Ashworth said she felt a sense of freedom when she recorded the album. She hired people and friends to record with her and said the experience felt like “being a conductor.”
“I think the album is best listened to on acid,” she joked. “Or ice cream. Your choice.”