The Winner is: The Company
By Greg Hartman
In the early morning of January 29, 2017, three bands stood on the stage of Mesa Theater. The Battle of the Bands featured 9 acts, ranging in experience from their first public performance to an experienced band trying to book more gigs in the region. In the end, three bands remained: The Company, a progressive rock band from Grand Junction; Primal J and the Neanderthals, a rock band from Eagle; and The Black Gusto, a newly formed punk band. The three were selected by a mix of judge and audience voting, with a final audience volume vote to decide.
After two rounds of a near-tie, it was down to The Black Gusto and The Company. Left to make the final call, the judges sided with the band who had the most audience write in votes- The Company. Noticeably shocked and excited, the band celebrated on stage and received their cash prize, an opening slot for a national headliner, and a promise of an interview and story in March’s Grand Valley Live magazine. While the band was excited, anyone tracking the band’s progress could see that they were on the right path.
The Company started when Derek Felix felt the need to play live music again. He wrote a few acoustic songs and got in touch with long-time friend and guitarist Michael Lawrie. After getting the feel of the new content, they decided to go with a full band and brought in their friend and drummer Dustin Huisjen and recruited Michael’s co-worker Ben Hartman on guitar. Derek moved to bass and the four worked on completing the songs that would be on their first album, Crimson Grove.
The album was a bit rushed, but the band was eager to share their sound and get on stage. Recorded in Crimson Studios (also known as Ben’s garage), the album is a progressive rock opus with a theme of the world facing catastrophe. Artwork featuring a C contained with an O was created and the band began two years of occasional gigs and continued practice. They have performed four times at Mesa Theater, with the most recent being their reward gig opening for metal band Hail Sagan. The band also always performs wearing suits and hopes to eventually have their fans do the same, keeping with their band name.
The chemistry that the four have built in that time is now showing with an ambitious second album project with a galactic theme. The group find a balance between rock and metal with a constant push and pull of their ideas. Michael is a metal fan, while Derek has a vision to stick closer to a progressive rock approach. The push and pull, along musical contributions from Ben and tempo corrections from Dustin, has lead to a new batch of ambitious and fun songs. The first few were debuted during the Battle of the Bands, with full video accompaniment featuring interplanetary video. The successful win at Mesa Theater was no fluke, the band is fulfilling their potential.
The band hopes to have an EP out in the next few months and the album be released late 2017. Their next live performance is at 7:00, March 10 at Thunderstruck Valley along with Suckafish and Augmented. If you want to support the band, they encourage fans to come wearing suits.