The Arizona desert sprawls across the South West like an infinite, barren sea – its elusive, empty landscape adorned in starry skies and cacti laced with just enough mystery to inspire far-reaching dreams in its inhabitants. Brought about by the majesty of Arizona and a childhood devoted to rock and roll, Phoenix’s resident Britrock-inspired band The Technicolors is on the verge of spreading their name from throughout the desert to across stadium marquees. Though the band has been living in a stasis for quite some time, they are finally set to release their debut album, and with time, surely live out the rock fantasy that fuels their dark, grandiose sound and entire being as a band since their inception. // BS – Brennan Smiley.
The band first came into fruition after Brennan had been supporting other live bands. Brennan, is this where you saw The Technicolors going since forming the band? Did you always have a sense that this project was going to be the one or has it exceeded your expectations?
BS – This is the only band I’ve ever been in, so I don’t think I was thinking about it that way. I was a guitar player first, so singing and writing songs was (and is) still fairly new to me. I had just written some songs, and never loved the idea of being a solo artist, so I wanted to be in a band. And there you go.
When the band first formed, it really felt like Brennan’s brainchild though it’s evolved to really feel like a four-piece band. In what ways have you fostered a sort of brotherhood in the band?
BS – I think being in a band has taught us all how to truly open our minds – to each other, to others, to exist in this strange way, face to face with four other people, in different environments everyday. You have to learn how to exist in the simplest way; an empathetic way towards not just your brothers but towards everyone you come into contact with. We all really respect each other.
The Phoenix music scene often seems overlooked, but there is so much going on there, especially with 8123. What has your experience been being a part of this scene and the 8123 family?
BS – To be honest it’s been really hard. Yes, there are some great pockets/subcultures of music and art happening (some of the best), but it seems as though a lot of artists/musicians deal in extremes, either fame-hungry and on a never ending search for internet stardom, creating things for the wrong reasons, or are so fed up with what I just described that they’re unwilling to engage at all. This dynamic exists everywhere, we just really feel it being a British-influenced rock and roll band in the desert. We’ve always wanted to contribute to our community the best we can by attempting to create things that are challenging and also good/executed well. We don’t always succeed, but we know what music and the opportunity to keep creating it means to us, and the responsibility that we take on with that – to put the music first and create stuff we dig, no matter how anyone feels – to trust ourselves.
It feels like it’s been a long time coming for your official debut to come out. How do you feel now that it will finally be released?
BS – Like Kevin Costner at the end of Field of Dreams.
In what ways do you think you’ve grown as musicians and individuals since the band’s fruition and how can we see this growth on the upcoming album?
BS – I like to think we’ve grown more trusting of each other as musicians and humans. The way we recorded this record – mostly live, using tape machines and analogue things – pulled out a lot of our personalities into the music in ways that it wouldn’t have if we were doing it all digitally. So, we had to trust each other, as musicians, as tasteful creators, as friends.
The music you’ve released thus far is really based in a garage/Brit rock sound. Does your next release diverge from this in any way or is this the kind of music you feel most connected to?
BS – I think the new record builds on that. We grew up loving the all the hi-hat bands of the early 2000s and so much more that didn’t fall under any specific genre. We wanted to write songs that sound like the desert we live in and some that sound like where we dream they will take us, as well as some that sound like some undefined place in between. That’s a theme for us that will always stay the same, and always yield different results.
Your rock sound is also a very big sound in terms of how dynamic it is and the way it feels as if it could fill an arena. Where does the drive to create a sound and feeling like this come from?
BS – Probably growing up falling asleep to Zeppelin DVDs with my Les Paul on my chest, sometimes nearly choking me (that thing is heavy), ‘cause I was trying to learn Jimmy’s live solos. So, that’s where my good grades went. But I’m not sure actually. We’ve always liked dynamics, and have always been on the hunt to create something that’s larger than life, but still has the tension of someone singing to you in your bedroom for the first time.
There’s a bit of a sense of danger and mystery in your music. Where does the inspiration for this come from? Can we expect this feeling in your upcoming release?
BS – I’m a big Portishead fan, maybe that’s where the danger comes from – that or The Goonies. But yes, there are dangerous moments littered throughout this thing. Way may have even found the pirate ship.
A lot of your lyricism explores relationships, whether they be the dissolution of one or the exciting start of something new. What experiences have lent to the lyricism of your upcoming album? What sort of space does writing lyrics provided for you?
BS – I don’t like to talk about lyrics, at least not right after we put stuff out. We want anyone listening to use their imaginations, but I’ll say that a lot of this record is about living in a dry, barren place, and what some of our experiences on the road have looked like from that perspective, as well as where we would like to go.
I’m personally a huge indie rock fan and think there will always be a place for it, but for a band that is so based in rock and even has a bit of a nostalgic sound, I’m curious, where do you see the state of rock music today? In what ways might you organically be keeping it alive?
BS – I think we hope to be the antithesis of numbers and content, and hope to move thoughts, emotions, art, [and] beauty (not the Instagram kind) forward. It seems like everyone is scared to take a chance and do something different or that isn’t already popular or follow some kind of sequence that’s already been put into place, because if you fail, there’s a higher risk of people mocking it or something. I don’t know. We like being surrounded by and influenced by people that aren’t afraid to step out and try something new; be it cool, lame, thoughtful, quiet, who aren’t afraid to be seen “trying hard” to get better and create good and beautiful things. Rock n’ roll was never dead – it’s just had a bad haircut the last few years.
What are your hopes for the project going forward?
BS – We want to be the first band on the moon. Just haven’t found the right director yet.