Between being a band, helping manage a record label/recording studio and maintaining a full-time day job, time management is crucial. Maybe that’s why Josh Griffin and Jonathan Eldridge — the two-man crew behind Oklahoma City blues-rock outfit The Trading Co. — have taken to writing songs and playing shows at the same time.
“We’ve done that more than I care to admit,” drummer Eldridge said, laughing. “People are none the wiser. They just assume they’ve never heard that song before. They don’t know that I’m making up the words right then and there. Next thing you know, we are writing a song on the stage.”
It’s more than mere multitasking; the exercise plays into the duo’s goal for each show to be different from the last.
“More and more, they come to our shows not necessarily knowing what they are going to get,” guitarist Griffin said. “That element of surprise … it’s so valuable.
Most of the time, you see a band so much, it feels like if you’ve seen one show, you’ve seen them all. We didn’t want to be like that.”
Longtime friends, Eldridge and Griffin formed The Trading Co. in 2009, modeling their sound after The Black Crowes and The Band, just before The Black Keys helped bring garage blues back to the forefront of American music.
When it came time to record a demo, a series of fortuitous connections led The Trading Co. away from an established studio and toward The Kamals’ Zak Kaczka, who combined his equipment with what Eldridge and Griffin had to form the early beginnings of Old Dog Records.
“From the first day we walked in, we all realized how comfortable and well this worked,” Eldridge said. “We decided right then and there we were going to do this.”
The working relationship has helped both The Trading Co. and The Kamals — as well as their cohorts in The Black Jack Gypsys — emerge and build a modern blues-rock scene in Central Oklahoma. The studio/label Old Dog has allowed each band to record and release music whenever it wants, as The Trading Co. did on its debut full-length disc, which came out in December digitally and on vinyl.
“It’s a lot easier to make an album when you’ve got everything there,” Eldridge said. “Doing it ourselves, I’m pretty proud of that.”
Friday’s show at Opolis will show not only how supportive the acts are of each other, but how each pushes the other. All the guys behind Old Dog might be friends, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be the best.
“It’s a tricky line. It builds competition, but it’s healthy competition. I’d do anything to help those guys, but in the same breath, you kind of want to beat them,” Eldridge said with a laugh. “You are never satisfied with what you’ve done. It’s a built-in support system and barometer to see if you are doing what you should be doing.”