Rock ‘n’ roll soul train The Record Company headlines Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series Friday
Every band starts out with no listeners.
Chris Vox, from the raw, rootsy, rock ‘n’ roll soul train the Record Company, reminisces about the early days.
“There’s an excitement within the band that people care enough to give your band a few seconds or to go to a show a friend said would be worth your while,” Vos said during a break in the recording studio earlier this month. “Since the beginning, we wanted to make music we believed in, and now, we attribute our success to a lot of people who gave us a few seconds of their time. For that, I can’t even explain how thankful we are.”
After connecting through a Craigslist ad looking to start a band, Vos, on guitar, lead vocals and harmonica; Alex Stiff, on bass, guitar and vocals; and Marc Cazorla, on drums, piano and vocals, bonded over the late-night spinning of a crackling vinyl copy of John Lee Hooker’s album “Hooker N’ Heat,” and the next day, the Record Company was formed.
This Friday, the Los Angeles rock trio will be back in Steamboat Springs to headline the Free Summer Concert Series show at Howelsen Amphitheater. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., and opener Brent Cowles takes the stage at 6 p.m. followed by The Record Company.
“In my mind, if someone asked what we do, it’s rock ‘n’ roll but the roll is the soul and the rock — well, we all know what the rock is,” Vos said.
Growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Vos said there was something “earth-shakingly powerful” when music from his mom and dad’s Motown, Beatles or Springsteen records would resound through the silence of the rural setting.
“My grandfather was the first person I saw perform live,” Vos said. “He would play an accordion or his harmonica and sing country songs. It was such a huge moment in my life to see him perform live. It was my introduction to the magic of a human being sitting down and creating something out of thin air. I was so young at that time, but it was such a clean and crisp moment that is one of my earliest and most powerful memories.”
Vos said the music “caught him right away,” and there’s even a childhood video of him in diapers holding onto a chair singing into a baseball bat as a microphone.
“Every performance we do is not one more time, it’s one less time we get to do that,” said Vos, remembering a quote from Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. “There this sense of urgency with that realization, and that’s what keeps the magic alive. Even if we are sick and tired, broken, far away from home and haven’t seen loved ones in awhile, that’s when light is switched, and remembering this is such a special opportunity that needs to be treasured and to always keep that child in the living room singing into a baseball bat, alive.”
With a love for blues and all things rock ‘n’ roll, the Record Company’s sound is built upon its ambidextrous instrumentation, with layers of guitar, bass and drums and deftly incorporated harmonica, dobro slide, lap slide, pedal steel, piano and anything else that might serve the music.
“I like to think that the space between my ears is smaller than the space around me,” Vos said. “We strive to create music with the idea of living in the moment, because that’s the only real moment.”
Since forming in 2011, The Record Company released its Concord Records debut album “Give It Back to You” in 2016, which has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the “Best Contemporary Blues Album” category.
This year, the group has released the rocking new single, “Baby, I’m Broken” and is touring as the opening act for John Mayer’s arena tour, along with a few tour shows in Europe and Australia. The band also has played alongside or collaborated with the likes of Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Dawes, B.B. King, Kurt Vile, Mavis Staples, Social Distortion and Blackberry Smoke.
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