The title of the first album by The Company Stores, is more a declaration of musical identity than of their arrival on the music scene. Rollin In’, produced and engineered by Don Dixon, is a musical stew that subtly brings out the flavors of many different styles and genres, yet creates a taste completely its own. Smoothly blending elements of Appalachian folk, Delta blues, Rock, Bluegrass, and even Hip-Hop, the band has come to recognize that their musical identity is really a lack of identity. “We are skin changers.” tells drummer John Query. “We always have our base skeleton, but are always switching different musical skins.”
The five members, ranging in age from their mid-20s to early 30s, have chiseled away what they do best together on the road and in the studio, and Rollin In’ is the first culmination of their efforts. They have even created a new musical genre for new fans inquiring about their sound; Hill Hop. “We feel like it’s a “short and sweet” way for people to understand what we do.” explains front woman and vocalist Casey Litz. The title song—featuring percussive beat box and djembe, rumbling bass, and a plethora of different lead instruments including electric guitar, harmonica, trumpet, and even jaw-harp, not to mention Casey’s blend of bluesy vocals mixes with rap—is the poster child for what is “Hill Hop”. “We threw everything and the kitchen sink into that one.” said Joe Cevallos when speaking about the title track.
The diversity continues throughout the album, from the eerie, yet sexy opening track “Bottom Out”, to the upbeat, popgrass sounds of “Pocket Change”, to the heavy guitar licks in “No Middle Name”, to the smooth blues feels in “Dear Universe”. The album finally ends on the old timey folk and gospel feel of “Barbara’s Song”, which is about the guitarist Matthew Marks’ grandmother, and his experiences with using music to fight against her struggle with the mental disease, Dementia. “Barbara’s Song is both a true story of how I discovered that through old familiar music, I could reach my grandmother again when I thought all hope was lost, and also a way for me relay to listeners the musical influence she had in my life. So in a way, it was her that wrote the song through me.” explains Matthew.
The band was founded in Charleston, WV at the end of 2012 by Casey and Matthew, with drummer John Q quickly joining after hearing them at an open mic at a local tavern. The remaining members Joe Cevallos and Grant Jacobs joined afterward, completing the package. They have been performing across the Eastern U.S. for almost two years, and are looking forward to touring to promote their first album.
The name “The Company Stores” is a throwback to the old coal mines of West Virginia. It refers to system set up by coal companies during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where they paid the miners in “scrip” or “coal money” that was only good at the “company store”. This form of indentured servitude kept miners and their families in bondage to the coal companies, and was a classic case of the rich and powerful exploiting the poor. This name not only shows the bands heritage, but also the gritty, yet hopeful feel of their music and the meaning behind many of their songs about the struggles of the common man.