THE COMPANY BAND: "A Sound Investment"
Interview by Dr. Abner Mality

America's faith in its corporate institutions has been badly shaken as of late. Once honorable giants of finance such as Goldman Sachs, Lehman Bros. and AIG have been revealed as a bunch of rat bastards who like to take your hard earned money and throw it into a hole. One could certainly be forgiven for giving up on all major corporations. However, my financial investigations (as well as sonic) have lead me to one entity in which you can wholeheartedly put your trust : THE COMPANY BAND!

The Company Band is a rock-solid investment if you're looking for a company that can produce gritty high-powered rock n' roll. Its board of directors is made up of top professionals with proven track records: Neil Fallon of Clutch Inc., Brad Davis of Fu Manchu Enterprises, Jess Margera of CKY Ltd, Rev. James Rota of Fireball Ministry Mfg and hot shot independent Dave Bone. This group of seasoned entrepreneurs has just put out their first full-length CD, also titled "The Company Band", to great acclaim. The market is bearish for the Company Band and the advice is "buy" all the way!

I ventured into Company Band headquarters to meet with Mr. Margera, who took time out of his busy schedule to give me the background, mission statement and future prospects for the Company Band. The resulting discussion was one of the most fruitful and entertaining I've had and I herewith present a detailed report on that meeting....

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Was "The Company Band" the first name you guys came up with? Or did you kick around a bunch of others first?

JESS MARGERA: You know, it's funny, it seems like it took forever to come up with a name! We were just jammin' out songs and throwing names out here and there and nothing really stuck. Whatever we came up with, it seems there was already a band with that name. Then Neil shouted out "Company Band!" and we just went from there. We were like, oh my God, there's so many possibilities with that name!

WC: Visually, you can come up with a lot of clever stuff associated with it. You've already got a logo like a dollar bill...

JM: You know, we actually took that cover image from a bunch of old stock certificates like Enron and Rockefeller (laughs).

WC: It looks really cool when you see all the detail on it...

JM: Yeah, I just got the vinyl and it looks even cooler on that!

WC: There's also a lot of wordplay you can come up with, like "our stock is rising" and "invest in the Company Band".

JM: That was kinda the idea when we came up with it. When you buy the record, it's kinda like you're buying stock in The Company Band.

WC: When you guys started the band, did you have any particular idea of how you wanted it to sound?

JM: There was absolutely no pre-planning in trying to come with the sound. It just happened. My other band CKY was on tour with Fireball Ministry for what seemed like a year at least. Me and Jim had a lot of the same music tastes and we would swap Ipod stuff. After a few months, we were like, man, we oughtta record something together, even if its just a couple of songs for fun. And that's when Jim told me about his buddy Dave Bone whom he's been writing with for a long time. But he never really had the time to get the project together. When I came along asking for stuff to put drums to, he was like, "perfect"! Then we were kicking around five or six songs and I thought it might be cool to have Neil show up on a couple as a "guest appearance" type thing. He liked what he heard so much that he wanted be in on all of it. We were really excited about that, because we were all big Clutch fans.

WC: The band seems to be a perfect bridge between oldschool classic rock and the more modern version of that. Would you agree?

JM: Yeah, definitely. Jim and Dave bring a little bit of metal to the table whereas Neil is about old school rock and classic rock. It's pretty cool to have those two styles blending together.

WC: I hear some Hammond organ in the background of a couple of tunes. There's almost like a Deep Purple influence.

JM: We're all huge Deep Purple fans so it only makes sense that some of that would work its way in there. (chuckles)

WC: Have you ever thought of adding a keyboardist?

JM: We did an EP a couple of years ago that had some songs with organ on them and it turned out really awesome. This time around, we really just wanted to have a raw, live sound. Most of the tracks were recorded pretty much live. I would say the drums and the bass for sure were totally live. A lot of the guitars were cut live, too. It was really important for us to have that live feel....that it sounds like a real band, you know.

WC: The drums don't sound like they come out of a computer...

JM: Exactly. And every record is now starting to sound the same because of that. Everybody uses ProTools, touch-ups and stuff. (chuckles) I think Jim put it the best the other day when he said by doing things this way, we take the "Lady Gaga" out of it, you know! (laughter) That's the best way I've heard it described.

WC: That's one of the most quotable lines I've heard in a long time! When you guys right the songs, how does that happen? Is it all done by committee or do you say that this song is gonna belong to this guy and this song is gonna belong to that guy?

JM: It's really funny the way it all comes together. We're all kind of far away from each other. The L.A. guys get together and work out a rough idea and then they send the track to me. I put some drum ideas over it, then Neil works out his lyrics. Once we've got something that sounds pretty solid, that we're pretty happy with, then we get together for real in a room and iron it out live and see how it floats.

WC: It is almost by committee...

JM: It's pretty cool the way it comes together. I don't really work like that in my other band CKY.

WC: When I first heard the record, I didn't know much about it, but I thought it was some of the catchiest stuff to come down the pike in a long time. And it's not just one or two songs...every track has got its own hook.

JM: Yeah, I know. Thanks for the compliment. It's one of those records that doesn't get old. You know, there's records you pop in and you're really psyched on it for a week or two and then it kind of fizzles out. But this is one that kind of sticks with you for a while. We finished the record in early summertime and I've been blasting it nonstop since then.

WC: It's been in regular rotation for me. I think it can cross a lot of lines, if you know what I mean. Now the lyrics on this record are off the hook. (Jess chuckles) Does Neil share his inspiration for some of these? That song "Djinn and Pentatonic"...that's one of the worst puns I've heard in my entire life! (laughter) The song is as cool as hell but I'm trying to figure out what it's about!

JM: That's the funny thing with Neil, you never know what you're gonna get with him. You don't know if you're gonna get something about zombies or maybe the corporate embezzlement schemes going on! (laughs) That's the interesting part about it, just seeing what the hell he's going to write about. He's got such a crazy way of putting things.

WC: There's so many great lines, like the part in "Zombie Barricades" where he yells "Are you fucking kidding me?"

JM: And the one about the chicks that work at Hot Topic...

WC: That song "Hot Topic Woman" is so universal! Everybody can relate to that song because it is so true! (laughter) If the radio or music business was like it was in the 80's or even the 90's, that song would be at the top of every chart. It's a perfect hard rock radio tune.

JM: Yeah, I agree. That riff is so simple, but there's something about it, it's almost got a kind of Zeppelin feel to it. Like something off "Presence"...

WC: Are you guys frustrated with the state of the music business today? When I was growing up, the FM rock radio stations would have gone crazy over something like this. But that doesn't seem to exist anymore.

JM: Yeah, I'm pretty frustrated about it. It's pretty cool that recording a record is so easy now and inexpensive and anybody can do it with a computer program. That's really convenient for a lot of people but at the same time, I feel that it's brought down the value of recorded music. Before, when a record came out that was kick ass, it was an amazing experience. But today there's so many bands and so much music that it's all diluted. When I was in high school, my buddy would hand me a CD and say, wow, man, check this out! This is gold! And now CD's are like, oh, whatever...

WC: The only purpose to have a CD out is so you can tour and sell a lot of shirts...

JM: Exactly. It seems like music is more passive, people are passive about it. People just put it on and it's become the soundtrack to just another activity.

WC: Somebody on some message board mentioned that years ago people would bring huge banners to rock shows. Banners that they would work on for a month. You'd go to a show and people would run by with their banners. I remember that myself. I don't think the arena rock show is gonna be around much longer.

JM: Yeah, it's a shame, man. Seems like everybody is on "Guitar Hero". If you're in a band and you're not on "Guitar Hero", you pay a horrible price. (chuckles) Every kid is frickin' in front of that TV playing video games all day long. We had video games when we were younger and they were pretty cool but then get the fuck out of your house and do something!

WC: You get sucked into Facebook and Myspace and after a while, you can feel these things just sucking your soul right out of your body.

JM: You know, I fell into that for a while. When "Grand Theft Auto" came out, I thought that game was amazing and I just played it non-stop. It started to affect my work!(laughs) I'd be in my basement and I should be recording some drum tracks for this song somebody sent me and I'd be playing video games! I just had to put the Playstation away for a while. I don't know how I feel about it. There's a lot of cool video games but technology's gone berserk...

WC: I'm so old school, I like stuff you can do with one button and one joystick. This supercomplicated stuff I can't even follow. I'm still into Qbert and Centipede...(laughter)

JM: When I was a kid, you'd get the vinyl and put that on and just stare at the record cover. And that was awesome! It sucks that kids don't have any idea what that's like.

WC: It will never be what it was, but there does seem to be a strong market for collector vinyl.

JM: I know, it's definitely coming back. People who buy music are starting to buy vinyl again because of the artwork. (A little girl's voice is in the background and Jess takes care of some domestic matters for a minute or two)

WC: What do you think that each member of the band brings to the table that's unique?

JM: Man, that's the understatement of the year. (laughs) For me personally, these guys are my favorite players. If you were to ask me 10 years ago what my dream band would be, it would be this band. I've been listening to Fu Manchu for ages and Clutch is one of my favorite bands ever. Fireball Ministry...their second record is probably one of my favorite rock records ever. So to be jamming with these guys is pretty crazy. I can't even think about it too much because I get starstruck!

WC: It's a rare thing. Even in the music business, that doesn't happen too much.

JM: It's crazy how it all came together. Everybody is a master of their craft. I feel kinda like, "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!" (laughs)

WC: It's a great record, including your stuff. It's a relief to hear something that sounds like a real band...

JM: Thanks, I appreciate that.

WC: Has the response to the debut met your expectations?

JM: You know, I wish I could say I'm paying attention but I'm really not! (laughs) If people like it, great! I love to hear that. But this one's something that I did for me. I think that's true for all of us. We all had fun, we had a blast doing this record. It was something we all kind of needed to do. I've been in CKY for coming up on 15 years now and it's kinda cool to break away from it and do something else. It kind of reinvented playing drums for me. I don't want to say I was getting bored with things, but it was like, oh yeah, time to go to work. When this project came together, it was fun, it was a breath of fresh air.

WC: Has The Company Band had an opportunity to play live much?

JM: We did a handful of shows last year and man, it was amazing. Those were some of the favorite shows I've ever played. We played at my brother Bam's venue here in Pennsylvania, it's a 500 seater that was completely sold out and people were just crazy.

WC: That size is perfect for this type of music.

JM: Exactly! It's a really cool venue, there's not a bad seat in the house, even if you're in the balcony or in a corner. We had a blast. We're trying to figure out when we can get together early next year at some point.

WC: So future shows are a definite possibility?

JM: Yeah, it's so tricky with everybody's crazy tour schedules with their other bands. I'm sure some kind of window is going to open up for us. As soon as we all get a minute, we're definitely going to get something going, even if it's only a handful of shows again.

WC That might work in your favor. It builds up more anticipation if the band doesn't play that often.

JM: Yeah, I kind of like that. It's a pretty special thing when we all get together, because you just don't know when it's going to happen again. That's one thing I've found when I've been touring a lot. If you hit the same area two or three times a year, it's like, oh yeah, I'll just see 'em the next time around! But with Company Band, you don't have that, This might be our last show for a good year, year and a half.

WC: I understand exactly what you're saying. I see bands finish one tour, grab a couple of different bands, and then they're back in the same town a couple of months later.

JM: Exactly! I find myself doing that sometimes. A band that I like will come through the area, but I find myself saying, you know, man, I gotta do this. I'll just catch you the next time!

WC: I know musicians don't like putting labels on their music, but if you had to come up with a label for Company Band's sound, what would it be?

JM: I hate to be really vague but it's just pure rock. It's as rock as it gets.(laughter)

WC: It sounds like a combination of all the members' main bands, but there's some classic rock in there, I detect an early 90's kind of vibe, almost like Soundgarden...

JM: You know, it's funny, I heard that, too! I do kinda here some heavier earlier 90's type stuff.

WC: One thing that I really noticed was the laid back blues tune you played, "All's Well In Milton Keynes".

JM: That slide guitar on the end of that tune, it just sounds kinda David Gilmour.

WC: Even though the music is laid back and peaceful, the song kind of has an ominous feel to it. The lyrics describe peaceful things but there's something that makes you kinda uneasy when you listen to it....

JM: That song was done at the tail end of the session. We did all the drums and bass and everything. We had some extra time before we had to catch planes, so it was like, let's just jam and do something. We had that riff floating around and I did that tom thing along with it. It turned out to be one of my favorite tracks on the record.

WC: Usually a song like that seems like filler to me..."let's put in a slow one because we have to"...but I didn't get that feeling from that track at all. It worked out really cool.

JM: Yeah, and it's quite a departure from the way Neil usually sings. I was pleasantly surprised with that one. Sometimes when you try to go outside the box, you get mixed results but that song definitely floats along really nice.

WC: If you could ask any 3 people, live or dead, to dinner, who would they be?

JM: Syd Barrett, number one. George Carlin, number two. And probably Bill Hicks, number three! That would be a pretty interesting dinner! (chuckles)

WC: I don't know how much breakable stuff you'd like to have handy. Also, what was the last CD or album you got just because you wanted to check it out?

JM: Somebody put a real crappy MP3 of Graveyard in my mailbox. I listened to it and it was, Oh my God, I gotta go get the real thing! I probably wound up buying 25 copies of it just so I could hand them out to people. It's like you gotta listen to this! My good friends that appreciate good music, I've been handing that out to them? Have you heard these guys at all?

WC: Is that the Swedish band?

JM: Yeah. Oh man, it's amazing! Their vinyl's all over the places...I think it's on Tee Pee Records.

WC: What was the last gig or concert you checked out just because you wanted to see it?

JM: I caught Karma To Burn at this really tiny joint a couple of towns away from me. It was the most random place you could ever hope to see a show. This town is like a ghost town with a crappy strip club and a beat up looking shopping center.and that's the town they played in, called Springfiddy, Pennsylvania! (laughs) I checked out Karma To Burn and they were amazing. They just got back together, they had broke up for the last eight years or so.

WC: I think they must did that show as a "test run". If it didn't go well, not that many people would notice.

JM: Yeah, exactly. They seemed to be getting along just fine. There was a lot of bitter feelings when they broke up.

WC: I'd think they'd be a great band for Company Band to play with.

JM: Karma just opened a bunch of CKY shows recently and it went over great. The CKY fans are younger and more impressionable and it's really cool to just throw a kick-ass rock band in front of them. and see what their reaction is

WC: Is there any sort of Spinal Tap moment in your career you'd like to share with the readers?

JM: (laughing) Oh God, that's one of my favorite movies of all time. Yeah, there is. We were doing a radio interview at WSOU and we were like, let's go to the phones! It was me and a couple other guys from CKY. The first two questions were about the band and then the third guy calls in and asks for the sports scores for the Seton Hall game. Hey dudes, what was the score of the game last night? (laughter) The DJ goes, we'll talk about that later, man, I got CKY in the studio right now!

WC: Any last words or messages?

JM: Not really! Just thanks for the opportunity and hope you check out the record because it's one of those you just can't ignore!