It's safe to say there has been some fairly disheartening news about our state in the past few years. For all the racial and political tension we've seen, there still are certain kinds of people who remain optimistic about our future.
The artistic community, for one, thinks there's room to recover. After all, Waylon Jennings once thought Arizona held the key to a "far brighter day."
That's the idea that The Color Group founders James McInnes and Jeff Taylor ran with for their upcoming local music compilation, appropriately named for the Jennings lyric. Far Brighter Day, to be released August 21 on vinyl, is packed with local originals that either have been created for the comp or mastered to fit in, including songs from Sister Cities, Future Loves Past, What Laura Says, Wooden Indian, Kinch, Dry River Yacht Club, and more.
Up on the Sun: Is there a theme behind the compilation? The name would suggest there is.
Taylor: All things music in Arizona. We may not be natives of the state, but the local music scene that we grew up experiencing has certainly taught us much of what we know and love today, and this is our opportunity to give back to that. The phrase "far brighter day" is taken from a Waylon Jennings lyric, from a song called "Hey Willie." We felt the verse was a great ode to Arizona. "Hey, Willie, let's pack up and catch us a slow train / And head back to Phoenix, to a far brighter day / Where stars were for shining in the Arizona sky / And music meant more than fortune or fame."
Where did the inspiration for Far Brighter Day come from?
McInnes: Our admiration and respect for the artists we've gotten to know and work with over the past few years. We feel as though this is our opportunity to take the arts and music that we currently have in Arizona and share it with the nation. The possibility of attracting more artists and different mindsets to the state is quite an exciting one for us.
Obviously, there have been plenty of local compilations in years past. What makes this one different?
McInnes: This is The Color Group's take on the local comp. We are proud to say that we are collaborating with Ami Johnson of Queen Bee, as well as Stinkweeds, SilverPlatter, and Yucca Tap Room on the release. We're printing it on 12-inch vinyl, and we plan on this being the first in a series of compilation records that highlight the different musicians around Arizona who have contributed some enrichment to our own lives, as well as those of many others. This record is focused mostly on Phoenix and Tempe bands, but we are not limiting ourselves to a specific genre, and certainly not limiting our perspective of the scene to the Valley exclusively.
"The phrase "far brighter day" is taken from a Waylon Jennings lyric, from a song called "Hey Willie." We felt the verse was a great ode to Arizona. "Hey Willie, let's pack up and catch us a slow train/and head back to Phoenix, to a far brighter day / Where stars were for shining in the Arizona sky / And music meant more than fortune or fame."
Did you let the artists have free rein or did you have an artistic perspective you wanted them to work with?
Taylor: We completely left it up to the artists. The whole point of this compilation is to show people what it is that we love and appreciate about the scene here, and picking the artists on the first comp was about as much artistic control as we wanted to claim. We wanted to leave the rest up to the artists. The compilation has some previously unreleased material from a few bands, and some songs that have been released but not yet printed on vinyl.
How did you go about choosing the artists that would be on the compilation?
McInnes: They are all musicians that we have respected and enjoyed for a long time. Some of them we have worked very closely with; some of them we have not really worked with directly at all. Regardless, we enjoy what they do and the music they make, and that is why we picked them. It wasn't easy, but we were comforted by the fact that we are giving ourselves no "finale" to this series of local comps, as well as no real limitations for genre or city.
Obviously, the Arizona flag is plastered on the flyers you have up on your Facebook page and elsewhere. Do you feel like these artists are indicative of the Phoenix and Arizona music scenes as a whole? McInnes: We do, but we know that we are simply skimming the surface with the compilation. There is tons of talent in this state, and we're doing everything we can to get it some more attention.