The backyard of The Record Company's Los Feliz house is the kind of place where you want to sit and stay a while. Birds are chirping, a lawnmower whirs in the distance and a dog slumps happily on the grass. There's not much smog, so the downtown skyline is visible. The idyllic spot is perfect for laid-back BBQs, long nights spent sipping beer and the band's good-time blues.
Marc Cazorla, Chris Vos and Alex Wood, the three members of The Record Company, are lounging on the back porch drinking iced coffee, explaining how three transplants from the northeast and midwest ended up making bluesy music in L.A. that would sound more at home in a sweaty, backwoods Mississippi juke joint. Their first track, "Don't Let Me Get Lonely," features Vos' surprisingly rich vocals over an infectious jumble of handclaps, driving bass and a tinny harmonica.
"We would hang out and get drunk here on Friday and Saturday nights," Vos says in his husky voice. "Al would put his speaker in the window and we'd listen to old blues and early rock n' roll. We were just getting drunk one night and were like, 'Why don't we just play that? That's what we wanna do.'"
Cazorla and Wood, both 35, met in college in Pennsylvania while playing in a "college frat party blues jam band," Wood says. Wood, who plays bass, headed for L.A. after school. He kept in touch with Cazorla, a keyboardist and drummer who had detoured to Nashville. Eventually, he moved to L.A. and became roommates with Wood.
Vos, 36, is a burly teddy bear who grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. On a whim, he and his wife moved to L.A. in the spring of 2010. Though he found work as a musician, he was lonely for his old circle of musician pals. About six months after moving, he placed an ad on Craigslist in hopes of building a similar community here.
"I was so fucking depressed, thinking, 'Why did I uproot myself to come somewhere where I have no musician friends?'" Vos says. It was set to expire while he was out of town, and he asked his wife to refresh it. Being in marketing, she wrote a "very lovingly fraudulent" ad about his accomplishments. Wood, who had never answered an ad before, was impressed and called.
He invited Vos to come over and listen to records. The three became close friends; in fact, the trio's camaraderie is downright brotherly. When Vos, obviously tender-hearted, wraps up a monologue on the group by saying, "I just feel blessed we all found each other out here," Cazorla quips, "I could go play some music on the piano to accompany this."
Finally, after a year of drinking in the backyard and listening to other people's records, the guys decided to play a little themselves. Wood says they knew immediately they were on to something special. "We've all had minor successes in the bands we've been in, but this felt right the first day." So much so that they ended up recording right then and there. "That's how fast we knew what our sound should be," Vos adds.
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The band posted music January 1st, and began attracting attention instantly. Tonight, they begin a month-long residency at Harvard & Stone.
"We'll actually put on stuff we've recorded and it sounds cool while we're hanging out. It fits. It's just fucking easy. It's just kinda a good time," Cazorla says. Now if only they'd invite us over.
The Record Company begins its Harvard & Stone month-long Tuesday night residency tonight. Free, 5221 Hollywood Blvd.