In an acoustic setting, the listener can really tell where the backbone of the song is and the intricacy of the song itself.
I got a chance to sit down with Brennan Smiley, frontman of Brit-style rock band The Technicolors, before their acoustic set on The Long and Winding Roadshow in Scottsdale at Pub Rock. Smiley spoke about the acoustic aspect of a song and the process of writing a song.
Infectious Magazine: Your sound seems to rely on the electronic side of the music, how do you adapt your songs to be playable in an acoustic setting?
Brennan Smiley: You know I think when I started writing song, it was all acoustic. So I just tried to get back into that headspace because beneath everything, the songs are still there; the songs that you write before all of the sounds. I think that is always a challenge, more of a dynamic challenge because you’re used to relying on a band or a loud thing behind you backing you up; you kind of just have to let the song speak for itself. I just kind of have to get back into the headspace where you were when you first wrote the songs.
IM: So kind of getting back to the roots?
BS: Yeah, you just kind of fall back and look at the thing that made you like the song in the first place.
IM: How did you get introduced to the 8123 company?
We just had friends in that world and we were going through some stuff as band just really trying to figure out that next step and what we were trying to do and it just kind of naturally happened just through being in Phoenix and being friends.
IM: In an interview you did last year, you mentioned that you have a handful of covers that you can pull out when you need to. What is on that list?
BS: We do a cover of Wicked Games by Chris Isaac, we have to play it. It was a song I loved growing up that I didn’t know I loved. We haven’t done a cover thing in a while. We do a song called “Read My mind” by The Killers, we have done a ton, man. We;’ve got a cars tune, a tune from the Who that we do sometimes. It’s a lot; I’m probably missing like a thousand of them but just because we haven’t done them in so long. But we went through a phase where we just wanted to learn a ton of songs just to have them in our pocket. And as a band it helps to learn other people’s songs.
IM: Your songs “Divide” and “Alive Ever After” both have great musical qualities, but their lyrics are both very poetic and deep. How do you come up with melodies to go with your words?
BS: Everyone does it different with their own process. For me, it starts with the melody and the melody kind of inspires what I’m saying, most of the time like for those two songs that is how it was. A lot of the times I have to be inspired by the way the music sounds at first. Because when you play something instrumental everything has a different tone. Most of the time for me it starts with the tone and what is the tone saying. But then other times, if you have an idea like “oh I want to write a song about this”. You kind of have to mix and match. For me, I like to go for the melody first and let that come out with what we’re doing and lyrically try to follow what it is doing.
IM: In reviews of your album, a lot of writers say that your album is unexpected and takes the listen to places that they didn’t see coming. Was this intentional?
I think the intentional part about that record is that we just wanted to have fun and capture the moment that we were in. when you go into a recording process with that in mind, anything can happen. You can have an album where all of the songs sound the same or you can have an album where everything song sounds different and every single song sounds like it doesn’t belong. I think we probably have a little bit of both going on in that one. Everyone that listens to that one kind of has a different “oh I felt like this and this and this” and I love hearing about it and it is usually a little bit different. Like I said, part of it is intentional and part of it is being open to capturing what’s going on. You listen back a few months later and think “oh that’s cool or that’s funny.”
IM: Within the past five years, a lot of concert venues have shut their doors due to various circumstances, forcing musicians to find other places to perform. How do you think this will affect musicians and the music scene in the long run?
BS: I think the places that close, there is a reason they close. They were music venues that didn’t fit, not to their fault, it’s just that Arizona is so spread out culturally, you know lots of venues that are cool but in the middle of this town where a show going crowd isn’t going to be there or it isn’t easy for them to get there. So when there is a show, you really have to plan your night around being in that area. The cool thing is with all of the venues closing, that there are new things happening; a lot of it is happening downtown. Which is a great start because I feel like there is finally like a place that has that energy and its turning into that hub for the music scene of Arizona and we’ve never really had that before which is why I think for the longest time it felt like our music scene was so spread out, not that it can’t be someday, but I feel like it needs to start somewhere. There are a few key venues downtown that are doing a lot for not just music culture, but the bands that play there.
IM: Is there anything else you want to add?
BS: Yeah! Check out our new single! It just came out a few weeks ago. It’s called “Please Don’t Say You Told Me So.”
To purchase a CD, buy concert tickets or keep up with the latest new on The Technicolors, go here.