Hangin’ Ooot with The Bright Light Social Hour


bright_light_social_hour_Santiago_CalderónThe Bright Light Social Hour are currently in the process of recording their sophomore album which is expected to be complete by next summer. In the video below, they tell me about the equipment on loan from a fisherman that they’re using to build their personal studio in Austin, as well as how they intend to get any work done in the studio, given a hectic summer schedule that has them playing at major festivals such as Summer Camp, Wakarusa, All Good, FloydFest, Lollapalooza, and more.

When I caught up with them at The Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores Alabama I could tell the band had been inspired by Canadian culture on trips north during their extensive two-year tour.  Throughout their 2:30 p.m. set on Saturday the members of Bright Light Social Hour frequently announced the festival’s name using the long “u” that Canadians’ accents are characterized by. When we recorded an into for the video below (that was ultimately omitted), the band collectively greeted viewers from “The Hang Ooot!”

Photo by Brendon Riha, RS Digital

Photo by Brendon Riha, RS Digital

Later on stage, bassist and vocalist Jack O’Brien shouted to the audience during their set, “If you were Canadian, we’d be at The Hang Ooot!”

When I asked him about the Canadian music scene, he said he was most amazed by the contrast of what’s popular there as compared to in The United States.

“It’s different. I was really surprised to see that what’s really big in Canada is really different from what’s big down here. We haven’t heard of some of Canada’s biggest bands and they haven’t heard of a lot of our biggest bands. I was really surprised by that. They seem to be more careful listeners. I think we just have so many big publicity companies jamming so much music and pop culture down our throats here. I think they’re a little backed off on that, so they seem to be more proactive about seeking their music out.”

Guitarist and vocalist Curtis Roush chimed in, “And maybe something about having to burrow in their homes for six months out of the year. There’s a real appreciation when bands come up and play for them that maybe we in The States take a little more for granted.”

Watch the video below for the full interview and read on for the band’s responses to three questions about the music that has come to inspire the sound of their band today.

What’s the first album you ever bought for yourself or was given by someone else?

  • JACK O’BRIEN (bass/vocals): Boyz II Men, Cooleyhighharmony
  • JO MIRASOLE (drums): The first album I ever had given to me was in 6th grade. There was a game I really liked called Jet Grind Radio. It had a bunch of really good Japanese music. My aunt worked at a design firm and got one of her co-workers to design a CD for me with a printed label and a cover in a jewel case for my birthday.
  • CURTIS ROUSH (guitar/vocals): I had a cassette tape of Ace of Base I think I purchased from a local music store.
  • SHREDD (keys/vocals): I remember getting a Doors record when I was a kid but at the time that I got it I didn’t know who The Doors were. So my aunt took it back and bought me an ACDC record. (all laugh) I regret not keeping The Doors record, but at the same time ACDC are pretty fucking awesome.

What’s the first concert you attended?

  • ROUSH: My mom took me to go see Aerosmith when I was in 6th grade.
  • MOJO: That must have been cool, then, to see everything come full circle and to play on the same stage as them at a festival [at Festival d'été de Québec in Québec City].
  • ROUSH: I wanted to tell them that but they were unavailable for comment.
  • SHREDD: My first show was a big festival in Austin. The only three bands I remember are Godzilla Motor Company, Orgy, and The Offspring. I was 13, so it was the coolest thing in the world since I had never been to a show before.
  • O’BRIEN: I think the earliest show I saw was Bonnie Raitt at Antones, the famous blues club in Austin.
  • MIRASOLE: The first show I went to go see that I picked was Finch and Underoath playing together. It blew my mind. I’d never heard a live sound system before and I didn’t know you could feel music and not just use your ears. I was so depressed for two weeks after it because we didn’t own any subwoofers at all in any of our cars or our house.
  • SHREDD: Was that at Emo’s Outdoor [in Austin]?
  • MIRASOLE: Yeah- it was!

When you look back to your formative years, what album did you constantly listen to and run ragged from listening so much?

  • O’BRIEN: Mine was Red Hot Chili Peppers – One Hot Minute. That was what really got me into bass and grooves. I asked my dad for an electric bass and he got me a violin. So I learned to play it, but it wasn’t as cool. The next Christmas I asked for an electric bass again and he got me an electric guitar. So I learned that, too. And then finally when I was 13, somebody left a bass at my house and I finally got started on it.
  • ROUSH:  Pretty much every year since 8th grade I’ll go through a few weeks of just being totally obsessed with Dark Side Of The Moon. I just have to listen to it every day or every couple of days. That’s stayed with me. I probably love it just as much now- maybe more- than when I first heard it.
  • SHREDD: I don’t feel like I started listening to good music until I was in high school and that was old hardcore stuff. I think the record I listened to the most was probably Hopesfall – No Wings To Speak Of.
  • MIRASOLE: For me, the first record by The Strokes, Is This It, was the first record that I heard that didn’t have really awesome musicians on it. It taught me that you didn’t have to play a thousand notes a minute to make good music. I think that’s probably the most important lesson I ever learned as a kid.