An Interview with The Technicolors

Phoenix based band The Technicolors bring life into rock music with their new album Metaphysical, that was released this summer.  They haven’t been on tour in almost two years, but it definitely doesn’t feel that way.  Experiencing their music live is a completely different feeling from listening to it recorded.  Although you can hear it through your headphones, the heavy guitars and bass at their live performances bring a positive energy to the crowd that you have to see for yourself.  Fresh off of tour, Brennan Smiley (vocals/guitar), Mike “Nico” Nicolette (bass), Sean Silverman (guitar), and Austin Scates (drums) made a stop in Dallas, TX before heading to Phoenix for the holidays.  I got the chance to talk to the guys about what it was like playing their new album for the first time on tour and how this album was different from other music they have put out in the past. 

Hailey: You just finished with The Wrecks, how was performing some of your new songs for the first time on tour?

Brennan: I think it felt very new and awesome.  It feels like we’re still just scratching the surface of a lot of our new stuff.  A lot of things caught us off guard in a good way.  Just to see people come back to shows.  Also, our band is geared heavily towards playing live, so we tend to go a bit crazy.  We spent a lot of time off the road, and I think that was a good way just to get everyone back in a good healthy mental state.

H: So, you think you’ll be on the road again soon?

Sean: I sure hope so, that’s the plan.

Austin: There’s definitely some things that are being looked at with the new year, spring time, and summer.

H: What have you all been jamming to on the road that’s new?

S: We’ve been listening to the new LCD Soundsystem, the new Horrors.  Let’s see what’s new?  The new War on Drugs record earlier on.  There’s this band called Cymbals Eat Guitars that’s really sweet, New Queens of the Stone Age record.  There’s a bunch of rock records that popped up this year.  It’s kind of cool.  It always seems to happen at the same time.

B: When I drive, I listen to podcasts.

S: It’s better for staying up.

H:  I should try that sometime then.  Who is your go to person when you’re listening to podcasts?

Nico: Mark Maron.

S:  It’s called the WTF podcasts.  He’s just a comedian that interviews a lot of celebrities and artists.  We listen to Radio Lab which is really cool.  It just kind of helps you not think about anything.  When you hear a song you’re just thinking about, ‘well that song was four minutes.’  Whereas the podcasts, it’s an hour and you’re like, ‘oh wow’.  I don’t really feel like an idiot after an hour of just zoning out.  I’m like, ‘oh I may have learned something.’

H: I usually try to play really old songs that hype me up, but then that never works because, like you said, I’m thinking about ‘oh that was four minutes.’

B:  I have a hard time listening to new music on the road.  For some reason at times, I don’t know about you guys, but there’s certain specific times and places that I love hearing stuff that I never heard before and I’m really moved by it.  But for some reason on the road, I can never drive and put on a random thing.  I got to go back to the old stuff that I know too well that I’ve heard too many times.  Well like, [Nico and I] were just listening to this.  I was driving and Nico was in front, and we just threw on record.  It’s like a side project with Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl on drums, John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin on bass.  We used to listen to it kind of like the same thing, both of us up front driving on tour all the time.  We haven’t listened to it in like three or four years, so we were blasting that coming right into Texas today.

H: What’s been your favorite song to perform so far, and are you performing any new ones tonight that you didn’t play on tour?

S: I’ve really enjoyed playing “Sweat” live because it’s taken on a different life than the recorded version.  Every night it’s been a little different, and I kind of thought it would turn into that.  We’re gonna play “Congratulations, You’re a Doll” tonight which we haven’t been playing on the tour since we had a pretty short set.  I think we get a kick out of the fact that the set is split down the middle between new and old now.  The response to the new songs has been so great that I don’t get scared about all this new material.  I think it’s pretty cool that it became one big pile of stuff for people to get into.

H:  I was looking through old interviews that you did Brennan in 2015, and when did you start writing Metaphysical?  I don’t know if this is just a saying you like, but I saw you say that you guys had ‘a couple tricks up your sleeve’, and I was wondering if it was referencing to the new music?

B: I probably use that reference way too many times.  We started writing early 2016, like January.  We had a two-week period where Sean and I would lock ourselves in a room and come up with the weirdest song titles we could, and would see what’d happen.  Then we demoed out twenty-five songs or something, and that got cut up into eighteen that we all liked.  One day we went into the studio and just the four of us…

A: We just played for twelve hours.

H: Just one day?

S: Yeah, it was crazy.

B: It was so fun.  It was very quick and no one knew what was going on.  We had ideas and would be like ‘DO THAT’, hopefully it sounds cool.  We ended up with the framework of to what would be our record.  Then we recorded it, like actually recorded it last summer, and finished it in fall.  We spent a lot of time figuring out how to release it, which is easier said than done when you’re an independent band, but also worth it.  We don’t have the resources that you might have with a label or some sort of institutional thing that gives you resources.  It makes you search harder for them and make your own.  It also teaches you that you’re capable of more than what you might have thought you would be.  At the end of the day, even if you have those things happening, there’s still people.  It’s still people like me, and Sean, Nico, and Austin.  Who’s to say we can’t do that stuff?  Even though it took longer, now we’ve hit this point, and we’re very convinced what we did was worth it and meaningful.

H: Was Metaphysical a lot harder than the other EPs you’ve put out?  What was different in the way you went about this album?

S:  It was difficult because we were putting ourselves in the situation that we didn’t have a target necessarily.  We were just creating without a center vision initially.

B:  We were aimless for a while.

S:  Yeah, we were just a little aimless.  When you’re in that phase for a little while, it’s hard to go like ‘oh there’s the light at the end of the tunnel, we’re gonna shoot for that.’  We had things beyond our control that made that even more difficult.  It started as an EP and then we were like we have seven songs that we really like, we can just do four more and then it’ll be a record.  We really had like fifteen more songs.  We had all these demos, and then that pushed the record back because then we had to go and find time to record those songs.  Everything kept moving it further and further, and then by the time you get to the goal you’re like ‘well what did we just do?’  Then all the sudden you’re like well now we have a record.  Now, we have to figure out what to do with it versus normally you go make a record, here’s the chunk of time we do it, and this is what happens.  We didn’t really have that result.  Because of that, everything took these little increments of time to refine what it is we enjoyed about being around each other, creating art together, what the art means to us, why we’re doing it, why it matters that we’re independent right now.  I think it’s important because we are trying to refine what it is that excites us.  Sometimes when you have a lot of those external influences, you never get to try things.  You just have to do what’s in this tunnel because that’s the only choice.  We see so many young bands that get the instant hype thing and then a year later you don’t hear from them because they break up because they can’t stand each other, or it’s just a shaky foundation.  Where it’s like here, we’ve gone through all the bullshit together, and so it makes us care more about every time we do something.  There’s a deeper redeeming quality to us performing it than just the performance.  We just actually enjoy it more than on one level of just ‘oh we played the big song of the night, and people seemed to like it, that was cool.’  There’s something else there that we’re trying to shoot for.  We’re getting every centimeter closer each time we make ourselves vulnerable.

H:  How would you describe your live show to people that haven’t seen it?

B: I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t describe it.

H:  You just have to go see it?

B:  Or don’t.

*Everyone bursts into laughter*

 B:  Show up and close your eyes.

S:  We should try that.

B:  We’ve tried to answer that question so many times, that it’s just like, come to the gig.  Come get away from the regular old routine, and come to a show.

H: So, since you weren’t home this week, what did you guys miss about Thanksgiving that you normally have at home.

N:  Absolutely nothing.

A:  It was really great.  I would say just missing the girlfriend.

N: Being with my wife and dog would’ve been nice.

S: IN the Cracker Barrel.

N:  Yeah not at home, in the Cracker Barrel.

B:  Yeah, I would just say missing the family.

S:  I’ve probably had like five Thanksgivings on the road now.  It always works because the way that fall tours usually go through November, I almost always miss Thanksgiving.  There’s pros and cons I guess, we made the best of it for sure.

H:  Okay one last question before I let you go, I saw you guys were recording stuff while you were in Nashville this week…what’s that about?

B:  It’s a top secret mission, something special for the holidays we’re working on.

S: Soon very soon.

Go listen to Metaphysical if you haven’t already, click here


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