Coming to Milwaukee
When: Thursday, Oct. 6
Where: Pabst Theater
Tickets: Buy tickets here
Where they’re from: LA by way of Milwaukee
Their song 88Nine is playing: “Off the Ground” (watch video below)
RIYL: John Lee Hooker, blues rock, The Rolling Stones
5 questions with The Record Company
Frontman Chris Vos had a rich musical life in Milwaukee, performing with his brother in bands Invade Rome and Freshwater Collins, among others. After moving to Los Angeles for his wife’s career, he found greater success on a national scale with his band The Record Company.
Radio Milwaukee spoke with him back in March on the making the move, how the LA music scene compares to Milwaukee, and his excitement for his homecoming show at Turner Hall earlier this year.
1. How did you get started in music?
It depends on what era of it you wanted to speak of. I remember when my parents bought me a whiffle ball bat when I was still in diapers. My mom has pictures of me using it as a microphone, singing to her records. I don’t know if you’d say that was when I started playing music, but it shows from a really young age that I really loved it.
I didn’t start playing music until I was a freshman in high school, when I finally got my first guitar. I grew up on a farm and there weren’t a lot of guitars around or people who played. I wanted one and when I left eighth grade, I was kind of obsessing about playing guitar and they said, “We’ll help you buy one.” It was a going into high school / leaving eighth grade graduation present. That was the way it went down.
2. What were your early influences? Your mom’s record collection?
Yeah. Ma and dad’s records. Mom was a Motown lady and she also liked a lot of other stuff that was really cool. My grandpa liked Nat King Cole and Patsy Cline, which, as I got older, became way more important to me. It was great to have that at an early age.
My grandpa Don was more of a country guy. He was always singing Willie Nelson songs and Johnny Cash. My dad was a rock ‘n’ roller. CCR, The Boss, all that kind of stuff.
Were your family members musicians or just had good taste?
They were all musicians. My brother Brian and I played together for years in bands around town [Milwaukee]. My brother Mark Vos still plays around town. Brian and I were in Invade Rome and Freshwater Collins together. That’s one of the things I miss the most, playing music with family.
For me this is a really big deal, I’m very excited. It brings back a lot of memories.
3. What do you think of, when you think of coming to Milwaukee with The Record Company?
This gig is really is special to me — it means a lot. I actually haven’t come back and played a proper club gig in Milwaukee since I left. I played Summerfest, which is a festival, and that’s great. As far as a show in the city of Milwaukee, I haven’t done that in six years and I used to do that all the time. For me this is a really big deal, I’m very excited. It brings back a lot of memories. I’ve heard from so many friends, it kind of makes your heart ache. It makes you feel so good. I think it will be a friend and family reunion, which is great.
4. What took you out of Milwaukee?
[My wife] had the opportunity to take a really great job in LA. My entire family was in Wisconsin. My band that I loved like brothers were in Wisconsin. My football team that I live and die with – they are in Wisconsin. It was a tough decision, but for crying out loud I just looked at her and said, “Yeah. If you want to do that, let’s do it.” I didn’t know how it would work out for me. I just thought I would play as best I can, as often as I can and work really hard to get back involved with the scene.
It’s weird to be part of a community of musicians and then all of a sudden, nobody knows who you are at all. It’s a big town and everybody’s got dreams here that they’re really going after, so it’s quite an environment. It’s really engaging; I really do love it out here quite a bit. No snow and good people. I’ve heard about what people have to say about LA’s reputation, but in my experience is it’s a lot of hard-working, great people. The bands work hard and they care – just like Milwaukee bands.
5. How does the LA music scene differ from Milwaukee?
You’re in the middle of LA. There is a huge film industry here, a huge television industry. The music industry has gotten smaller, but a lot of it is still here. That’s the difference. You have opportunities and you get seen a little faster because you’re right in the same neighborhood. I could be drinking at the pub and have a conversation with the guy who is doing something that could relate to my band and all of a sudden you’ve got your song on a television show.
Has that happened?
Yeah. We’ve had a lot of stuff get on television. It’s a good way to get out there. A majority of those bookings come through an agent, whom you also meet. There are people and promoters here, just like Milwaukee, who really want to get bands heard. It’s really not that much different. It’s just really big and there’s no way to know everybody.
LA is divided. The scene on the east side of town, where I am, is completely different than the scene over by Venice or Hollywood. It’s like if you parked five or six different major music scenes next to each other. You know each other, but you don’t. You might do really well on one side of town and then you go all the way to the other side of town and maybe your band doesn’t draw so well over there. It’s really strange. You can be doing unbelievably when you first start out on one side of town, and then on the other side it’s like no one’s even heard of you because it’s so big.
Just like there are Bay View bands and Riverwest bands, but those bands are probably more aware of each other. Out here, it takes a little longer to find out who is similar to you, doing what you’re doing, so you can do show swaps and trades. Like, “Okay, we’ll come over to Venice and open for you guys and you guys can come over to the The Satellite and play with us and you’ll have a great crowd because we do really well over here. And we can get our name around over by you.”
I’m so excited to be in this band with two really great guys, it’s just really been great.