185 Clingman Ave. Asheville, NC 28801
At 2pm on December 19, 2022 — the dreaded final day of the year in the music business — The Record Company got a telephone call from the, um, record company. It was the head of the label, who’d been sitting on their new demos for months, while the band sat in limbo. It was a scene out of a movie about the bad luck bands sometimes have with big record labels: a pleasant “hello” led to a Charlie Brown’s teacher murmur that amounted to “you’re dropped from the label, Happy Christmas, fellas.”
Apparently, the label was going “in a different direction” — Hollywood code for “The Record Company’s many radio hits and Grammy nomination are no guarantee that you’re going to push further into their idea of mainstream, or that you’re great at TikTok.”
“It was tough to swallow,” says bassist Alex Stiff, “because we had already set out to write the most stripped-back and raw record we’d done in years, and they had demos of this new music, and ultimately dropped us. Combine that with some new economic realities, a canceled tour, and we really felt like everything was crashing down at once.”
On The 4th Album, The Record Company see that rejection as a rite of renewal, a way to cleanse themselves, to start over. They head back to their roots: creating the raw, self-produced, blues-based music that in past years earned them multiple Billboard #1 AAA songs, a Grammy nomination, and brought them from playing small clubs to arena tours supporting John Mayer and Bob Seger.
These “roots” would include half-working dumpster guitars, no-name drum sets from garage sales, no click tracks or studio tricks, all recorded in the bass player’s living room. “Almost every band you love at some point tends to drift away from that raw spark that made them unique in the first place,” says drummer Marc Cazorla. “They search for bigger sounds, bigger budgets, more expensive instruments, producers, mixers, etc. We’ve been subject to that as well, but now we’ve come back full circle to what matters most: making raw, honest music that moves peoples’ souls.”
The band titled the new collection “The 4th Album” to signify the start of a new chapter. When the needle drops, we hear TRC lead singer Chris Vos spit out an offhanded quip: “I ain’t ever givin’ up,” an impromptu line that is an instant touchstone for anyone who’s ever seen their dreams fading, and then been able to regain hope. That line quickly became a call-to-arms for the band and a rock-solid theme for this album.
The 4th Album finds the band at peace with themselves operating as outsiders in an ever- changing musical landscape. “You’re not going to find us posting goofy videos, salad recipes, or telling the internet what every song is about,” says Chris. “We’ve had some ups and downs, but we’ve managed to find a way through it, and put it all back into the music.”
When Jesse Ahern walks onstage, he looks like a regular guy-albeit one with a six string strapped across his body and an anchor tattoo under his right eye. As he tears through his set, easily rousing brand new crowds to shout his choruses back in his face, it’s clear Jesse could be everybody’s friend.