“I could talk quite a bit about how complicated and difficult the pandemic was and how much it changed all of our lives,” The Record Company’s Chris Vos begins. “But, in regards to record-making: when we didn’t know what to do or what was going to happen next, we were able to get into a mentality of solely focusing on the writing process.”
For The Record Company—a punk-meets-blues-meets-modern-rock outfit from Los Angeles—the disruption of the pandemic serendipitously offered something they’ve never had in excess before: time.
“When you’re in a band, you tour… but it’s two different mindsets,” drummer Marc Cazorla tells American Songwriter. “On tour, you’re focused on the details, like making sure you have a second bag ready to go for all the dates, and you stay in that mindset the whole time. Then, you’ll come home on a break and try to write some songs for the album, but you’ve kinda got to recalibrate first. When the break ends, you’re back out to Chicago or something like that and you’ve gotta get back in the touring mindset. This time around though, that wasn’t the case.”
With the extra time and space, the trio hunkered down, linked up with more collaborators than they ever had before, and ended up writing just shy of 20 demos for a new record. Now, that album is finally out—on October 8, the band unveiled Play Loud, a collection of 12-songs that constitutes their most explorative work to date.
“We were thinking about how to expand our sound and try something bigger, so we started working with some outside songwriters and it all blossomed from there,” bassist Alex Stiff says. “We didn’t really want to do what we had already done in the past—I produced the first two records, but volunteered not to produce this one. We wanted to meet new people and expand our sound… and I think it’s the best record we’ve made.”
With a gritty, hi-fi swagger, Play Loud lives up to its name, offering sizzling alt romps, irresistibly bluesy hooks, and explosive bursts of rock’n’roll. Songs like the lead single, “How High,” show off just how big of a difference the new, “expanded” approach to record-making made.
“With our producer Dave Sardy [Oasis, Wolfmother, Modest Mouse, LCD Soundsystem], we went further than we have before on stuff,” Vos explains. “We were also impacted with COVID—“How High” was something we started before the pandemic, but we didn’t get that chorus until the last day of cutting vocals in the studio. I realized that, because of everything, the lyrics were hitting me even harder than they did before COVID. I felt them deeper.”
Yet, for all the experimentation—including synths, ‘70s and ‘80s-inspired instrumentation, and all sorts of creative arrangements—the foundation of Play Loud is still built around The Record Company doing what they do best.
“We had more things and tools available to us than ever before, but at its core, we still recorded the guitar, drums and bass live,” Cazorla says. “From there, we were able to build on that sound and try things, like, ‘Hey, what if we put this Yamaha mini keyboard on this part here?’ It was cool, we never got to do that before.”
Now, with the record out and a cross-country tour underway, the band is overjoyed at the chance to share this next chapter with their audience. Looking back on how far they’ve come since the end of 2019, Cazorla commented on just how beautiful and surreal the full-circle moments of a career in music can be.
“Just the other night, we got to hear ‘How High’ used in the opening night of NFL football,” he says with a tinge of wonder. “I was like, ‘Wow, I remember the first day we started writing that song… now, it’s on TV for the opening night of football while they’re showing Tom Brady, but it still feels like just our little song we made. It’s pretty cool. So, now we’re going to hit the road again and keep sharing it. Right now, we have a lot to be excited about.”
The Record Company’s new album Play Loud is out now—watch the music video for “Gotta Be Movin'” below: