Words and Photos by Max Stewart
The Record Company is a Rock N’ Roll response to the selfie generation. Hard hitting, earnest blues-inspired tunes that don’t give a damn about outward perception or your Snapchat story. I first saw the band open for John Mayer, and then caught them play a ferocious headlining gig at Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club. Both shows proved that this band has the heart, the songs, and the sweat-drenched soul to make a lasting name for themselves. In a time when mainstream Rock bands are few and far between, The Record Company certainly have the attitude and musical potential to be the next big Blues-Rock band á la The Black Keys.
I got to catch up with the band’s Singer and Guitarist Chris Vos, where we talked everything from the 9:30 Club to Metallica to band chemistry to Bob Dylan.
I saw The Record Company open for John Mayer at the Verizon Center in D.C. and was completely floored by your performance. I am a big advocate for any band that keeps Rock N’ Roll alive and well, and you guys are no doubt doing that and clearly take pride in being a Rock band in 2017. What is it about the magic of Rock N’ Roll that makes it so special to you?
Thank you so much for the kind words, I’m very glad you enjoyed the show. The whole John Mayer tour was a great experience, we learned and grew a lot. To answer your question, it’s the same magic in Rock N’ Roll that I hear in any music when it’s played from the heart. Music is an escape from the trials of life, an elevation of our minds and hearts up and over, or directly through, both the good and bad experiences of our lives. That’s why music played loud is so fun; total sensory and spiritual engagement.
The Record Company has taken the Blues formula and added layers of raw energy and some punk sensibilities, which I think manifests itself on stage. How would you describe The Record Company’s sound to someone unfamiliar?
I suppose I’d describe our sound as Rock N’ Roll that cares as much about the Roll as it does the Rock. The Roll is where all the swing is, it’s the thing that makes you dance all night or retreat to the bedroom.
You mentioned that D.C. is a special place to the band as you played your first headlining gig to a packed house at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hotel on H Street last year. And your most recent 9:30 Club show a month ago was a ton of fun and some folks that I brought to the show were absolutely “converted.” What about that 9:30 Club show made it ‘one of the best shows we’ve f**ckin’ played’, in your opinion?
All our shows in D.C. have had that unexplainable “something” to them. The show at the 9:30 Club was one of the most memorable because the energy in the room just kept circling back and forth until it was nearly overwhelming. That’s the kind of stuff you dream about as a kid practicing away all day with those same dreams floating around every note. Plus 9:30 gave us sweet cupcakes, so that gave us the sugar needed to fly off the handle.
It is clear you and Alex Stiff (Bass, Backing Vocals) and Mark Cazorla (Drums, Backing Vocals) have a special chemistry and you all pour every ounce of energy into your live performance. To truly appreciate your band, I have told my friends you must see your live show. With that, there is nothing quite like a power trio that manages to have a monstrous sound. Almost makes them more appealing than a cacophonous huge band; less is more. What is it about the chemistry of you and two other guys that just clicks, especially in a live environment?
For whatever reason, playing music together just felt right from day one. The experience of playing together seems to work like any other relationship in life. It just like making a good friend or relationship in any part of life, somehow the conversation comes easy and the good times are aplenty whenever those friends are around. The same goes for a musical relationship or conversation. We look at every performance as one less time not one more time. It’s a finite number of times you get to do this, so make it count and play your guts out.
You play multiple instruments, including guitars, lap steel, pedal steel, and harmonica. Do you enjoy being able to bounce around throughout the show and switch instruments or do you find it challenging?
I love changing instruments throughout the night during a set. I love being in the groove on an instrument and then next song being involved in a totally different feel with a totally different type of instrument. For me it keeps things engaging and exciting to play. We being a three piece band, one of the ways to diversify the sound is to change the instrumentation. Seeing as we love bass and drums so much it just leaves my spot onstage to be the changing element.
I read in an interview that you guys were inspired to perform together by a John Lee Hooker album, Hooker ‘N Heat. Nothing really beats some of those older Blues cats. Any other formative Blues albums that you guys spin on the road that may have been inspirational to you wanting to start a band?
Muddy Waters’ “Hard Again” record was the first time I heard a dobro and it changed my life. I needed to play slide after hearing that. Everything from The Rolling Stones to The Stooges to Howlin’ Wolf to The Beastie Boys to The Grateful Dead to any and all Jimi Hendrix etc… we love it. Hendrix was playing in a three piece most of his career so that always means a lot to us.
The Record Company is getting a ton of recognition and praise since your debut release, Give It Back to You. The album was nominated for a Grammy for “Best Contemporary Blues Album” and you have been able to play with the likes of Buddy Guy. What has been the most unreal moment that made you step back and go, ‘OK, wow. This is happening.’
Releasing the record was a crazy night as you didn’t know what that future was going to be. We are very thankful for the last two years. Us hitting number 1 on a Billboard Chart, hearing we were nominated for a Grammy, walking onto stage at Madison Square Garden in support of John Mayer, all were amongst the experiences we never saw coming. So we are grateful for them, we don’t want to waste them, we want to enjoy them. We all played empty rooms for a long long time in many different bands just like all musicians do, so we know this is a special time and we are thankful to everyone for the opportunity to do what we love.
You get to hop in the Delorean and go back in time for one concert… Who are you going to see?
Hands down my favorite question I have ever been asked. I am going to be a chicken and answer it with a couple things. Going back and seeing Robert Johnson playing on a street corner, seeing Jimi Hendrix play New Year’s Eve at The Fillmore, seeing Muddy Waters in Chicago, or The Beatles at The Cavern, or the Ramones at CBGB, or Patsy Cline at the Grand Ole’ Opry. To be in the audience and see Elvis in 1954, or Bob Dylan at Newport Folk Festival. Too many to count, great question.
What is something that fans would be surprised to know about you?
The first song I ever learned to play on guitar was “Seek and Destroy” by Metallica.