Metal Skull: Interview with James A. Rota of The Company Band: Hostile Takeover

Also of California stoner purveyors Fireball Ministry, guitarist James A. Rota operates as one-fifth of riffy supergroup The Company Band. Alongside fellow guitarist/principal songwriter Dave Bone, Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon, CKY drummer Jess Margera and Fu Manchu bassist Brad Davis, Rota brings his unique musical personality to the fore in the band, who have just released their first, self-titled full-length via Restricted Release. An album full of high-grade southern licks and beer-drinkin’ good times, The Company Band captures the essence of its component parts, but with the development of a strong band dynamic and intricately live feel, is able to make them into something more than they could be while separate. It rocks, is what I’m getting at.

Rota, cheerfully and accommodatingly, checked in for the following phoner to talk about the album, what’s up with Fireball and the industry at large.

Are you comfortable with the term supergroup?

Sure. I would use it. I think that it is a super group (laughs). It’s a super group of dudes (laughs), so yeah. Everybody in this band is a fan of everybody else’s band in some way or another, so in a way it is a supergroup. All of us are getting to do something we really love to do and do together.

How was it for you guys writing this record coming off the EP? Did you know what you wanted to do musically?

Well, you know, in Fireball, for me, I’ll do a bulk of the writing. I’ll come up with a lot of the ideas and take it to the guys and we all put our own thing on it and turn it into a Fireball song. It was cool for me because Dave is the guy in this band, in The Company Band, that pretty much comes up with the ideas, and then we all get to go in on it. For me personally, it’s been refreshing and a cool thing to have a different approach to writing the songs, but once those ideas get flowing, it’s pretty cool because everybody has such a distinctive thing about them, the way they do it, from Neil to Jess and Brad to me and Dave, everybody’s got their own flavor to throw in there. It comes together pretty quick once we just sit down and do it. Dave and I and Brad are even already starting to come up with some new songs and this one hasn’t even come out yet. It’s pretty darn fun.

In terms of getting that stuff to the other side of the country for Jess and Neil, do you guys send files back and forth?

Oh yeah. We fully utilize the digital distribution methods that have been given to us. I’ll tell you that the band couldn’t exist without the internet, in more ways than one. I think it’s awesome that we can do that. Dave and I or Brad and Dave can come up with something in a rehearsal room and make a recording of it, then slap it up and email it around to everybody like four hours later. That’s crazy. It really helps get everybody amped and involved.

How is it playing with these people who you’ve been friends with, as opposed a personal relationship, having band relationships with these guys?

Well, you know, it’s funny. When you’re in a band with a bunch of people, it’s kind of like having three girlfriends. You have that kind of relationship where it’s kind of inevitable that some of the same drama and some of the same parts of knowing people so well in an intimate way that is at times unnatural because you spend 24 hours a day with them in closed quarters. I think with The Company Band, the vibe that’s always been from the beginning is that everyone’s just hanging out and having a good time. It’s kind of a different monster.