Wednesday 11 October 2017

LABEL INTENSIVE: Introducing Kansas City's finest, this is The Company

The Company is a specialist DIY label based out of Kansas City, whose vision for the label was to put the spotlight on the heavy scene in the local area. Guided by the long term mentor, Steve STB, The Company founder Josh Wilkinson known for his design work for boutique stoner doom label  STB Records  took a leapt of faith and would release the debut from local boys Keef Mountain on vinyl, thus the label was born and with it, another top class label issuing albums lauded by the underground scene but seemingly ignored by the big boys. 

Now with five vinyl releases behind them, I took the opportunity to fire some questions at them, in order to get low down on this unique and high class label. "Welcome to The Company".

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

My name is Joshua Wilkinson. I have lived in the Kansas City Metropolitan area for 95% of my life, the other 5% being Omaha, NE. I have an associates degree in Graphic Design, and currently daylight as an employee for a Large Format print shop here in KC. I’ve done design work some of the following bands: Hossferatü, Merlin, Druglord, Red Wizard, Crown of Thornz, Bright Curse, Eternal Black, Custom Black, Olde, Sinister Haze, Goya, Ancient Warlocks, Joel Grind, Doctor Doom, Fistula, Year of the Cobra, Geezer, and The Watchers, just to name a “few”. I also handle the majority of design, and marketing for my label.

What inspired you to start a record label?

I started realizing how many good bands there were in KC, and I felt like they needed to be heard outside of the midwest. Originally the idea was to do a single 7” or Flexi to sell on The Companys website to draw attention to my design services. I never had any intention to start a label; I just wanted to sell something different that other designers weren't offering. I approached my favorite KC band, Keef Mountain, and they were into the idea completely. As some of you may know, I handle most of the design work over at STB Records, so when I mentioned the idea to Steve from STB, he was the one who pushed me to go the full distance and release a full length. I invited the Keef boys over to my house, I laid my plan out to them, and they jumped aboard. So that was the beginning of The Company as a record label.

What are some of the difficulties you have faced and currently face?

Money and time. I can confidently say those are the only 2 road blocks I’ve faced in my short experience. I could always use another 8 hours in my day. With my day job, my main design and label hours are limited to the evenings and weekends, but I’m always working things over in my head, or communicating throughout the day regarding design and label stuff. It never gets “shut off”.

What would you describe as The Company’s 'vision' or 'philosophy'?

My main vision was to put a spotlight on KC and its incredibly talented heavy scene. The metal scene, the punks, the unbelievable Hardcore scene we have out here, whatever. I personally am more into the “stoner” side of things so I chose to focus first and foremost on those bands because I feel like I can market them honestly, because I’m also a fan. I would never release an album that I personally wouldn't listen to. This is strictly a labor of love.

Are there other labels that have inspired you? Other labels you think people should look into?

STB and Poisoned Mind Records, hands down. Steve from STB has been my mentor since day 1. He took a huge chance on me, took me on as his lead designer without ever having met me, and really taught me a lot along the way. He pushed me, made me challenge myself a lot, and taught me a great deal about the business along the way. Same with Tom from Poisoned Mind, he’s my bud! (What up Tommy!) I used to do most of their design work as well, so Tom and I used to (and still do) bounce ideas off each other all the time. Those guys are both huge inspirations to me, and great friends. On a much bigger, much different level, I’m incredibly inspired by Relapse Records of course. I’m mostly inspired by their ability to market a vast array of genres and stay relevant for so many years. That’s something I’d like to see The Company do, is sorta branch out and reach a broader audience.

Tell us about some of The Company’s earlier releases you think people may have slept on?

If you’re not listening to Hyborian yet, I would very highly recommend checking them out. They’ve put out such a phenomenally talented and extremely well written record. They recorded the whole thing themselves in their practice space. It’s a true DIY recording but if you didn't know any better you'd think it was recorded in a giant studio. It’s massive. I get nothing but positive comments about them. They're some of the hardest working dudes in the game and some of the most talented people I’m privileged to call friends.. Mark my words: They are going to go far in this business. I Love those dudes like brothers.

Keef Mountain, our first release, is one of my favorite bands, and 2 of my favorite people on earth. The Company, as a label, wouldn’t exist if it weren't for them. The album itself fucking RULES! If you like Sleep, or the Melvins, then you’ll very likely be into this album. It’s a fun record. Another one that was completely recorded DIY by Alex Tunks (Inner Altar, Blindside USA) in a bar basement. The cavernous surrounding gives it a huge sound.

A lot of people know Curse the Son, but I don't think a lot of people realized we released the album, because a lot of them we’re expecting it to be released by STB. That’s another album I recommend. They're the only band on the label who isn't from the midwest, but they're part of my STB family, and the album is so god damn good, I had to push myself to do that one. It’s reminiscent of Electric Wizard style stoner/doom, but to me there’s a big Seattle/grunge influence to the record, especially the vocals. I always say it’s like If Alice in Chains had started a Sabbath worship band.

What upcoming releases are you most excited about?

I’m really excited about Snowchilds ‘Age of Change’ which was well received when it was released digitally so I’m pumped on that one. Snowchild is from Wichita, KS which is a couple hours south of KC. For those that aren't aware, Kozmik Artifactz will also be doing a pressing of that album as well with different colors and packaging so stay tuned for that. Kozmik always has bad ass releases! After that I’m co-releasing Youngblood Supercults exceptional new album “The Great American Death Rattle” with DHU Records. Another midwestern band, YBSC hails from Topeka, KS. The albums great, and has a lot of emotion felt on the recording. The addition of Brad Morris on bass and his contribution to the song writing made a huge impact on their sound, for the better of course. I swear to god I get goosebumps everytime I hear Davids voice. That guys a true vocalist. Weston brings “stoned and steady” drumming, and Bailey just fuckin’ shreds it! So other than that, we’ve also got plans to work with some other great KC area bands, Inner Altar being the one I’m most excited for.

Tell us about some of the newer bands on The Company roster.

One of my favorite bands in the world, Inner Altar, just got done demoing their new album, so hopefully we’ll get a full length from them in the near future. Inner Altar features members of Keef Mountain, Blindside USA, No Class, Altered Beast, and Blood Shaman. They're kinda like Demon Head, or early Witchcraft with a KC twist. Their two first tapes are some of my favorite music ever written. Check them out.

Gnarly Davidson has been part of The Company crüe for a while now but I don't think they got the attention they deserve. They hail from Lawrence, KS and are a three piece who play LOUD fuzzy stoner metal. We re-released a tape they recorded on the fourth of July. They recorded one side sober, and then re-recorded side b after they had gotten drunk. We’ve still got some of those tapes available. I hope to work with them again in the future, they rule.

If you could have released any record past or present, what would it be and why?

Inner Altar: “Vol 1” + “Vol 2”… Did I mention I love Inner Altar?

What does the future of The Company look like, from your perspective?

I’d like to see it become as big as possible. Its hard running this thing while maintaining a steady day job, but I bust my ass so I hope it pays off someday. I would at the very least like to look back and say that I was part of not only KCs music scene, but the whole Stoner/Doom community in general.

The End