The Bright Light Social Hour Interview

Jack O'Brien of The Bright Lights Social Hour

Jack O’Brien of The Bright Light Social Hour

April 21 2015 – Very few things are as exciting as finding something new you love. Much like archaeologists that dig to find hidden treasures, we here at T-Mak World really enjoy trying to find new bands that we love. Once we find such bands, we approach our favorites to request interviews. Today we set our focus on a band from Austin, Texas named The Bright Light Social Hour.

The band is not exactly new for us – we caught and reviewed them 2 times before in Toronto (once at Yonge and Dundas Square and once opening up for Umphrey’s McGee at The Danforth Music Hall) and once in Austin at a private party (read here, here and here respectively). Those 3 shows in 2012 earned them a spot on our year end Top 10 Indie Bands of 2012 list (read here). We also have  review of the show referenced in this interview available here.

We got the opportunity to interview Jack O’Brien, and got further insight about The Bright Light Social Hour.

Hey Jack, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Let’s start off with the obligatory introductions. Who’s in the band and what instrument does everyone rock?

TBLSH: I play bass and sing. Curtis Roush plays guitar and sings. Edward Braillif plays synths and guitar, and Jo (Mirasole) plays drummie drums.

How about the history of the band, when did you get started and how did it happen?

TBLSH: Curt and I met in college, found Jo on Craiglist, and Jo met Edward DJing.

Who are some of your musical influences?

TBLSH: Miles Davis, Sly and the Family Stone, The Flaming Lips, Disclosure, Black Merda.

So based on the above how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?

TBLSH: future southern cosmic soul

Your second album just came out entitled Space Is Still The Place – tell us about that album (overall experience in making it, producer, recording location, etc)?

TBLSH: We made it entirely ourselves, produced, engineered, everything. Jo and Curt really did all the engineering, and Jo, Curt and I “produced” it, i.e. making all the creative and creative-technical decisions. We recorded it at our home studio in Austin, then mixed it with Chris Coady in NYC. We probably spent over 200 days working on it, getting every sound exactly right. One day we went to every vintage guitar shop in Austin, recorded samples of 27 different vintage amplifiers, went home and did a blind test to choose which amp to do the record with (a 1964 Vox AC30 won if you’re curious). We basically did that for everything, every microphone, every microphone position, every pre-amp, etc., even which strings sounded best on the bass.

What is your favorite single line of lyrics the band has written and why?

TBLSH: Probably the opening line of the record, “space is still the place.” I think it says it all. Keep moving forward, there’s so much out there to explore, so much progress to be made, it’s really exciting.

We recently saw you at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto and were floored at how packed the place was on a Wednesday night. How do you think word of the band has gotten to so many people in a market so far away from home?

TBLSH: Toronto has always been a home away from home for us. We were really surprised by the turn out, being that we haven’t played Toronto since 2012. I think a lot of it has to do with my late brother, Alex, who was our manager. He spent a lot of time in Toronto, had a girlfriend up there, touched a lot of people up there, and he was always reppin. We have a lot of love for your city.

Imagine that you were asked to be the opener for any band’s world tour (both current and historical). Which band and tour would be your dream opening gig? 

TBLSH: James Brown. Hands down.

What is the future of the music industry? With the concept of the album and physical CD’s facing extinction, how will we be consuming music in 10 years? Are the economics feasible for emerging artists?

TBLSH: In 10 years, I can imagine a much more advanced version of the paradigm we’ve already started, with anyone, anywhere in the world, able to instantly access any piece of music, from any time, at any time. I think the user experience will be much improved, and higher quality audio than we have now. And in parts of the word where internet access is limited now. Who knows, maybe music will be more interactive, like personally curated DJ sets that use cognitive computing technology and data like your mood, environment, who you’re with, what kind of system you’re listening on, etc. to cater a very dialed-in listening experience. We’ve already seen attempts at that kinda thing. And yeah, I think it’ll be economically workable for artists. The beautiful thing about expanding the ease of finding new music is that opportunities arise, possibly from very far away places or people, that artists may never have found themselves in touch with, audiences they would never have connected to. If the music is good, and it resonates, it will spread and be shared at a rate higher than ever. And I think we’ll continue to see a growing middle class of musicians, who aren’t killing it but because they can reach people around the world, can find the opportunities to make enough to get by.

Where can people purchase or listen to your music?

TBLSH: Spotify, iTunes, our website, record stores, the usual.

At the end of the year we published our picks for top 10 albums of 2014. Lists like those are always a reflection of personal tastes so tell us if you were making the list what are some albums you would you have had on it? {Note – Space Is Still The Place is a heavily favourite candidate for inclusion on our Top 10 Albums of 2015!)

TBLSH: For me personally, it’d be: Electric Würms – Musik, die Schwer du Twerk; Silk Rhodes – Silk Rhodes; Spoon – They Want My Soul; Wye Oak – Shriek; D’Angelo – Black Messiah; Madlib / Freddie Gibbs – Piñata; Leon Vynehall – Music for the Uninvited; Mac DeMarco – Salad Days; Caribou – Our Love; Flying Lotus – You’re Dead

Any closing remarks for our readers in Toronto? 

TBLSH: reppin the 6 harder than Drake <3

Screw Drake, we prefer some kick ass reppin the 6 harder than RUSH! LOL… Thanks Jack, keep doing what you are doing – your music is both inspirational and uplifting. Toronto welcomes you with open arms.

The Bright Light Social Hour Interview by Terry Makedon

T-Mak World: Toronto’s Site For Music, Movies and Culture

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