The birth of Technicolor Tone Factory

In a college music scene dominated by DJs, Boulder band stands out

P.J. Nutting | Boulder Weekly

On any given night in Boulder, you can find DJ sets and the sounds of electronica leaking out the doors of bars around town. For musicians in their early 20s, the peer pressure and demand to go digital is enormous, and that’s exactly why the persistent militia of kids who stick by their instruments seem all the more heroic.

The most recent and exciting success story on this front is Technicolor Tone Factory, a quintet of Boulderites who are now emerging as a powerful reminder that the synergy of musicians is something a single performer can never replace, the direct channeling of energy that results from intuitive communication and a practiced set.

“The whole idea of a band is to be way tight,” says bassist Zach Jackson. “Like you’re all breathing the same breath.”

“We’re never going to be electronic,” says drummer Brian LeFever. “But we can try.”

Electronic influences shine through in the band’s versions of Daft Punk’s “Something About Us” and Pretty Lights’ “Finally Moving.”

“We try to show people that you can accomplish that kind of music and that kind of sound; you can do that with a band as well,” says guitarist Jarrod Guaderrama.

There are a lot of things a band can do, and that’s what TTF’s infancy is all about exploring. “Funky Grass” builds a fast-paced bluegrass jam and the classic bass line into surprising funk; “Riffaround” mixes light, jazzy blues into dark heavy metal; “DNA” changes from an ambient ballad into a dancey, upbeat reggae groove.

“When we first started, Brian was really adamant that we focused on nailing one specific genre,” Guaderrama says. “But Technicolor has turned into something more where we try to encompass all the ideas of music, all the concepts.

Not only blend it together but take people on an emotional roller coaster, where you transition smoothly between the genres. You try to make the music breathe so it can build up to another concept.”

For a band that only has one released studio track and a meager handful of homemade videos for promotion, they have connected with a Boulder audience. Whether it was their first gig opening for GODLAZER at the Sushi Spot in April (“They packed the Sushi Spot harder than I’ve ever seen it packed. It was wall-to-wall,” says GODLAZER’s Chris Caligaris), or their Fox Theatre debut opening for The Magic Beans that had the audience buzzing, they have demonstrated they have the synergy to impact a crowd and make them groove.

“The expectation of the band has to be relatively high in order to bring the people,” Guaderrama says, “so that’s what we try to give out and I guess that’s why we’ve had such great interactions with people like The Magic Beans, Eminence Ensemble, In Due Time, West Water Outlaws. They’re constantly trying to step up the level and we are, too. With the few bands that are in Boulder, we’re all trying to book it as much as we can.”

With their upcoming show with Hot Soup cancelled as a result of venue issues, they are backed off from their three-nights-a-week schedule to reassess their buzz level, lay low and charge up for a big winter push. They will collaborate once again with West Water Outlaws for a Dec. 2 show at Cervantes, and after finalizing their first EP in January the band will embark on an “I-25 Tour” with shows in Colorado Springs, Albuquerque, El Paso, and Las Cruces.

“Recording this three-song release is gonna be huge for us,” LeFever says.

“We have some recordings from the Fox and a few from Zach’s house, but we need to have some documented music, which is why January is huge for us.”

“It’s mostly for our fans,” LeFever adds. “They’ve been dying for recordings for a long time, and we didn’t really have the resources or cash flow to do that.”

The band will get a chance to capture their live feel in a single-track recording session at Coupe Studios in Boulder.

“The whole point of recording in a studio like that is to capture the live feel,” Jackson says. “It’s not like single-tracking everything, it’s recording in one room all together, really nailing it on how we sound live and trying to get that energy into a recording.”


On the Bill:

Technicolor Tone Factory opens for West Water Outlaws at Cervantes’ Other Side on Friday, Dec. 2. Doors at 8 p.m. Whiskey King Coalition also plays. Tickets are $8. 2637 Welton St., Denver, 303-297-1772.