Support acts aren’t supposed to succeed like this. It might be Blackberry Smoke’s London audience at tonight’s gig, and it might be early, but they’re already on their feet, clapping along to songs they’ve never heard before.
As the set froths to a giddy climax, the band’s frontman, caught in the moment, deliriously raises his acoustic guitar above his head and threatens to bring it crashing to the stage. He thinks better of it, sheepishly lowers it to regulation height, and departs to a roar.
“I’d like to sit here and pretend to you that it didn’t just drop my jaw,” says a delighted Chris Vos, frontman of that support act, The Record Company. “But it was like that the whole time we were in the UK: Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Newcastle. They were all jaw-dropping.”
The Record Company formed in 2011, brought together by Craigslist and bonding over late-night blues-’n’-booze sessions on bass player Alex Stiff’s back porch in Los Angeles. Now they’re getting ready to release their debut album, Give It Back To You. The trio are rooted in acoustic influences, and ignore the crank-the-amp tendencies of so many contemporary blues-influenced acts. “If you listen to early rock’n’roll records, they kick ass without necessarily trying to,” says Vos. “They’re just doing it. We were trying to go for something like that: a groove, and a sound that will wake you up; where you could play it with a full drum kit and an electric guitar and really mash the heck out of it, but we went the other way.”
The end result feels a bit like an unplugged Rolling Stones, if the Stones were from late-60s Detroit instead of early-60s London, with some sparse, Morphine-style bass holding down a groovy bottom end.
In 2012 they released two singles via Turntable Kitchen, a website that aims to introduce food lovers to great music by pairing limited-edition vinyl releases with recipe cards and seasonal ingredients. So if The Record Company’s music brings to mind salty caramel ice cream, buckwheat shortcakes and strawberry chamomile syrup, you know why.
Like so many of LA’s musician population, none of the band are from California. “Marc [Cazorla, drums] grew up in upstate New York, Alex grew up in Philadelphia, and I grew up on a farm. You bring all that with you. But I’m a proud Wisconsinite, and I’m proud of my background. I’m proud my dad’s still farming and my brother’s still farming and my grandfather’s still farming. That stuff will never leave me. But yes, we’re an LA band.”
After The Record Company’s success on the Blackberry Smoke tour, the band are looking beyond the City Of Angels. “Based on how wonderfully things went – and how surprisingly – in Europe, we’re definitely looking to come back to the UK as fast as possible after the record comes out. No question about it.”
FOR FANS OF: Canned Heat, Hooker ‘N Heat
“We formed the band over John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat’s album Hooker ‘N Heat,” says The Record Company’s frontman Chris Vos. “It totally blew our minds. We’re not trying to be anything on that record – that is beyond what you can be – but you can use it as inspiration to write good songs.”