Don't call the Record Company a blues band. "There's a preciousness to the term 'blues artist,' says Chris Vos, the band's dreamy lead singer (cool it ladies, he's married). "We tip our hat to the greats—Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed—and carry a lot of the blues in our music; but we've got too much respect for the genre to lump ourselves into it. We're more similar to an early rock 'n' roll band." The band's sound is raw, definitely bluesy and reminiscent of some of the best acts of the '50s and '60s—like if John Lee Hooker and the Stooges had a well-behaved love child. Vos and his wife Valerie moved to Silver Lake
from Milwaukee in 2010, and it wasn't long before he found friends in bass player Alex Stiff (single, raised in Wayne, PA) and drummer Marc Cazorla (also single, originally from Elmira, NY). The three bonded over blues, BBQs and beers, and by late 2011 they were playing music together. Less than a year later, and they've already toured (with the Whigs), snagged Lucky Brand as a sponsor, and will begin a month-long residency at the Satellite
on November 5. We dug their sound so much, we invited them to headline Time Out's launch party
. More recently, we invited ourselves into Stiff and Cazorla's Los Feliz
home to get the nitty gritty on life in LA for a down-home blues
bluesy rock band.
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Time Out Los Angeles: When did the light bulb go on that you three should make a go at this whole being-a-band thing?
Chris Vos: We'd become really close friends, listening to records and drinking beers every Friday night—it was all music all the time with us. Still is. One night last October, we were listening to John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat's Hooker & Heat album, and just realized—we all love this music, why don't we do something like this, kind of raw like this, together? So I went home, wrote a couple songs, brought 'em back to the guys, they made 'em better, and we actually recorded the first day we played together.
Marc Cazorla: We said screw it, let's just hang some mics up in the living room and see what this sounds like.
Chris Vos: The song 'Born Unnamed' from our EP, we recorded that first day. And I remember thinking halfway through the song that it just felt right. It felt exactly how I wanted it to feel, like having a really good, easy conversation with someone. We were all just being exactly who we were, and it worked.
Alex Stiff: Sometimes before shows, like on tour, we'll say to each other, 'Guys, we hung some mics up in the living room and now we're in Canada.'
Time Out Los Angeles: What are your favorite places to play in LA?
Marc Cazorla: You begin to feel guilty asking your friends to come see you play at clubs with expensive drinks and $10 covers. When we play at High-Fidelity record shop it's free, they have beer and wine for people, and you get randoms walking by and popping in. It's really grassroots and old school—we like that.
Chris Vos: The Satellite is awesome of course. Harvard & Stone was one of the first places that let us play. We once played on the 30-yard line of the Rose Bowl for a committee banquet. And we played your launch party—I'm still shocked that no one fell in that pool. I kept seeing high heels one inch from the edge.
Time Out Los Angeles: There were a few close calls, for sure. What would you have done if someone had fallen in?
Chris Vos: I probably would have jumped in to save them—we all would have. Though I'd have to take off my boots first. Man, a water rescue would have been a great story: "Entire band jumps in pool to rescue party-goer!"
Time Out Los Angeles: Ha! Luckily you guys were able to stay dry. So, what about when you're not playing music/collectively saving lives? Any favorite spots to hang in LA?
Chris Vos: When we do go out on the town, it's usually not far. Ye Rustic Inn is pretty much a staple for us. If you want to find the Record Company, you probably have a good chance at the Rustic. I also love LACMA. Staring at a 700-year old piece of art? That blows my head off completely.
Alex Stiff: I love going to Griffith Park with Seger [Stiff's two-year old lab mix]. You get to the top and there are such great views of the city. And for food, Village Pizzeria in Larchmont is great, and Larchmont Deli has the best sandwich in town.
Chris Vos: Oh! There's a little food truck that parks outside the Von's in Echo Park... Taco Zone! Man, I love that one. Those two little ladies in there just doling out the best Mexican food ever.
Marc Cazorla: I don't go to Hollywood that much, but I'll go for the egg rolls at Genghis Cohen. They're the best. And I just got a new camera, so I've been going downtown a lot to take pictures, in Chinatown and Little Tokyo. It's like another world over there—it really lends itself to good photographs.
Chris Vos: LA is such an engaging city. I never go anywhere and think "Well, this is boring."
Time Out Los Angeles: You have a record collection in here that puts whole shops to shame—over 1,100 titles. What's the story there?
Alex Stiff: A lot of people watch sports on weekends—I like going to record stores. Originally the collection started with just Beatles albums, but it's grown into an obsession. Amoeba is the best, in terms of pricing and selection, just their whole vibe. Even being on tour and checking out shops in other cities, I still think Amoeba is the best. I like to hunt for good deals—I don't have the money to buy $50 first pressings—and these are meant to be played, not looked at.
Chris Vos: It's like our old guitars. What's the point if you can't play 'em? They may be beat up, but they sound great and that's what matters. We've always sat around listening to records—it's kind of what brought us together. Other than that, our story is always pretty much the same: We played some songs, we drank some beers, we had some laughs, we went to bed. Wake up and repeat.
The Record Company will begin a Monday-night residency at the Satellite on November 5. Their self-released EP, "Superdead," as well as two 7" singles (one self-released, one by Turntable Kitchen out of San Francisco), are available on the band's website.