Grammy Flashback Interview & Performance: The Record Company

Lyndsey Parker

With the 59th annual Grammy Awards set to air on CBS on Sunday, Feb. 12, we’re looking back at some of the nominated artists who’ve performed for Yahoo Music. Today, we go back to the day that rising L.A. neo-blues band the Record Company came to our studio. They’re up this year for Best Contemporary Blues Album, for Give It Back to You.

photo: Lisa Dragani

Blues-rock is having a moment right now, with artists like Gary Clark Jr., Alabama Shakes, Chris Stapleton, and of course the Black Keys introducing a whole new generation to real roots music and authentic analog instrumentation. Los Angeles power trio the Record Company, who released their debut album Give It Back to You on Concord Music last year, fit right into that scene with their swampy, sweaty sound — but they eschew the idea that they’re part of some revival moment or are limited to a certain retro genre.

“We’re influenced by everything from early electric blues, early punk, early country, gospel music,” says singer/guitarist/harmonica virtuoso Chris Vos. Vos even reveals that the first album he ever bought was ZZ Top’s Eliminator, while drummer/pianist Marc Cazorla recalls his first musical purchase being a 7-inch of Waylon Jennings’s Dukes of Hazzard theme song. (Bassist/guitarist Alex Stiff’s first album was by Wham!, but that influence is, suffice to say, non-existent in the Record Company’s sound – other than the fact that they can write a damn good hook.)

“I’d just like to have a career built on the honesty and integrity of my heroes, whether it’s Patsy Cline or Iggy Pop,” says Vos, when asked if there any classic artists whose careers he’d like to emulate. “Anybody who has integrity and has lasted a long time, I admire them. I would love to have any ability to do this till my dying day with these two guys [Stiff and Cazorla].”

Starting with casual hangouts listening to John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat’s joint album, which turned into living room jam sessions, and then led to actual recording sessions and gigs, these close friends have evolved into a real, tight band the old-fashioned way. (Despite their name, they’re no record company creation!) And since leaving their living room, they’ve shared bills with everyone from Social Distortion to Grace Potter to even Buddy Guy and the late, great B.B. King.

“The doors are open to everyone, man,” says Vos of the audiences the band attracts. “If you’re 16, come with your 60-year-old grandpa and come party. We see all sorts of people [at our gigs]. We see people who like the Grateful Dead and are there in a tie-dyed T-shirt, standing next to some kid in a Mohawk, standing next to some dude who saw us play with Buddy Guy. It’s just rock ’n’ roll.”

Reflecting on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to open for B.B. King, Stiff recalls: “I think when we initially heard we were going to do it, we all just couldn’t believe it. It was one of those bucket-list things that you just can’t believe. How did this even happen? We started this band playing in a living room — and now we’re opening for B.B. King?”  

The Record Company are surely headed for even bigger rooms and stages now that their debut album is out, so Yahoo Music was thrilled to have this rising band recently grace our private studio with an intimate but rollicking set. Check out the performances here, and you’ll be in good company, indeed.