As Genuine as the Vinyl You Grew Up On (Or Wish You Did)
At the AMFM Festival, Friday June 14
By Lisa Morgan
I am fairly confident that my publisher, bless her heart, doesn’t much like it when I quote other publications in my articles. But out of respect for some fantastic writers out there who truly honor worthy music with fabulous verbiage, and out of deep respect for this phenomenal, very new, but well-seasoned band, I must. Time Out LA has this to say of The Record Company: “The band’s sound is raw, definitely bluesy and reminiscent of some of the best acts of the 50’s and 60’s – like if John Lee Hooker and the Stooges had a well-behaved love child.” Tympanogram says, “It’s familiar in all the right ways. The Record Company has something that will soothe even the most tortured soul.” And Buzzbands LA says, “Anchored by Vos’ true-blues wail, the Record Company’s take on the timeless genre is unvarnished and affecting.” All of these are truthful and accurate statements, but still somewhat fall short of the big picture of what this band brings to the present day turntable.
They simply, honestly and humbly describe themselves as “a band, born out of love for Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, The Stooges, The Stones, The Kinks” and other kindred souls. I think everybody who loves music, and definitely anyone who plays music is somehow born with a love for these greats. But then, there are those special few, who channel something that is bigger, brighter and fresher than the rest when they come together, create and play their own music. They somehow, bring their own essence into a classic foundation that revives the starving musical senses within your soul, causing you to walk away newly inspired, shouting out loud, fist in the air, “Rock and Roll is alive and well!” THAT, my friends, is what this band is all about.
The Record Company is a power trio that defines its power more by its deeply, honest delivery than by its thundering amplifiers. It is fronted by lead singer Chris Vos, offering up vocals that seem to come from the deepest parts of soul town along with guitars, lap steel, pedal steel and harmonica. Vos was born to a very musical family on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Grandpa, a farmer, sang and played old country gospel. Mom was a big Motown fan and loved her oldies including Chuck Berry and Doo-Wop. Dad enjoyed a steady diet of straight forward rock and roll with CCR and The Boss. Vos, marinated in these influences, picked up a guitar at 12 and by 14, started playing in bands developing his own tastes for Muddy Waters, Hendrix, Nirvana, and Metallica. “As a singer, I’ve always admired Ray Charles, Sam Cook, Patsy Cline and Sarah Vaughan – singers who draw a passion from deep within. I will love John Fogerty’s music until the day I die. Jimmy Reed is some of the most important music in my life – I own every single song you could possibly own from that guy. I love people who sing from a real place inside themselves. From the very beginning, I knew that whatever it was inside me that needed to come out, that was my well spring to draw from.”
Vos and his wife Valerie made the scary move to LA, she with her dream of living in a big city and Chris with his desire to perform. Playing pedal steel, Vos got work immediately but found himself longing to sing his own songs. Following in the example of Guns and Roses’, Duff McKagan, who came to LA responding to a want ad, Vos posted his list of influences on Craig’s list. That post connected him with Alex Stiff (bass, guitars, vocals) who then connected Chris with his Bucknell University brother; Marc Cazorla (drums, piano, vocals). The three formed a friendship months before forming a band. “It happened when we were sitting in a room together, listening to John Lee Hooker’s, Hooker ‘n Heat, a double album that was a live in studio performance with the band, Canned Heat. We said to ourselves, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be really great to have a band that draws inspiration from that!’ Our first day in the studio – the first time we played together ever, we recorded “Unnamed”.
The band members, though recently formed, have all played quite a while. “We’ve all been around and made the conscious decision to fall on the knife for original music a long time ago. Original music is a beautiful thing but can also a very complicated and tragic thing to try and do. I’ve seen 49 states because of my guitar, but you have to dig deep and you are gambling with time. If you pursue music after a certain age, you are simply surrendering to the call.” Vos laughs. “Then you go broke and have to form a music school,” referring to a time in Wisconsin prior to his move to LA.
“I’m a huge Nat King Cole fan. I’m a huge Rolling Stones fan. I don’t subscribe to ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll.’ I don’t care about that. I care about music…music that speaks to me. I couldn’t care less about glitz and glamor. I come from a simple, hardworking background. All I’ve ever wanted to do is work hard and play music that I can be proud of.”
The Record Company definitely has music that they can be proud of and they know they’ve got something special. They’ve only released 6 original songs, but have a whole arsenal that they play live and are releasing with the utmost of discretion. They are currently in the midst of making decisions regarding future releases – if they’ll be doing that independently or on a label. We, here in the Coachella Valley, will have the pleasure of witnessing this band live and personal at the AMFM Festival, June 13-16th in Cathedral City. Make sure you’re there to experience this. Meanwhile, get a taste of what is sure to be a standard name in contemporary rock and roll at the following links:
Purchase you tickets to the AMFM Festival at http://amfmfest.com/