Hailing from the deep south of Austin Texas, and making their Victoria debut at this past Rifflandia Festival, where they had two highly talked about performances, The Bright Light Social Hour had us in huge anticipation for their return.
After getting to know the guys during an interview, and while taking in a few shows with them during Rifflandia, it was time to play some catch up to see what’s changed with the band since last September. We all sat down to dinner at Fiamo to catch up before their sold out show at Lucky Bar on March 13th (hosted by Atomique Productions). After some drunken banter and before running on stage, we got down to chatting about the last few months, and where the guys find their groove.
So, the first time I met you guys was at Rifflandia back in September, and I was wondering if you could divulge a little bit in what has changed, and what life has been like for the band since then?
Jack: We’ve become a very different thing.
Yeah, definitely a change!
Jo: Jack, Curtis and I have never been closer, I’d say. We’ve found this strange synergy where writing music becomes this thing that happens without having to really think, and that’s really nice. Also, I’ve found that Jack and Curt entered this new found love of synthesizers, and I think the turning point was when we got a Moog Voyager. They (Jack and Curtis) connected with it so much as an instrument that it started to pull their heads into synthesists and has become a beautiful thing.
Is that was you guys feel as well, that you’ve evolved as musicians?
Jack: Working with the synthesizer really cracked open my brain and allowed me to think about more. I wanted to write music that spoke to the core of who somebody is. By being introduced to this whole new frontier of music and what it can mean, and what it can be, really allowed us to get into this whole untouched universe and this way to express our music that we had never really thought of. It caused us to be really new and different.
That’s really cool, because you (Jack) and Curtis have played together since college, so that’s totally evolved then.
Jack: The first time we started playing 8 years ago, I showed up at the first practice with this MS2000 synthesizer that I had picked up for super cheap. We certainly developed an esthetic that was more vintage based. I don’t think it makes much sense to make music that sounds like another era, it’s better to take the best things from every era and focus on the day of the now.
Do you guys mind me bringing up a bit about AJ and the change in the band with the addition of Edward, and his tie to Jo?
Jack: I think that has probably been the main difference since we last saw you. I think as we became more close, we became much more interested in what we thought of as the new frontier with the band, and he was a lot more interested in discovering his own.
Jo was saying to me at dinner that you guys have been writing so much more and being more of a collective.
Jack: Yeah he (AJ) is the kind of guy that needs to be doing his own thing with his own band. The rest of us have this real psychic connection, where Jo will mouth bass parts to me, and i’ll tell Curtis to play, or sing a certain way, then he will come up with drum beats for Jo. We all have our hands up each others skirts and that’s what works for us.
Curt: We love it that way! Some people get very defensive about their instruments, like, ‘I’m the guitar player, I’m the expert’, but that’s not mentality what we find interesting or intellectually satisfying. It’s a lot more interesting to have a drummers perspective on guitar, and a guitarist perspective on drums.
Jack: Then you get a collective piece.
Jo: We don’t nurture four different sovereign nations, we prefer a collective democracy .. collective direct democracy!
Jack: So yeah, I think it was something that unfortunately worked, and facilitated the band without him (AJ) there.
What’s it been like for you (Edward) to kind of come into a band that’s established, toured, done SXSW etc.?
Edward: It’s pretty overwhelming, and very humbling as a musician overall, but it’s fun. This has been a huge learning experience to play with musicians of a caliber that you really respect and it pushes you as a person. To have them want my opinion on something, or having something to bring to the table is great, and hopefully what I have to bring is something different and progressive forward instead of a staggering place. It’s a great experience.
It seems to be that way, Jo was pretty stoked on you during dinner conversations.
Edward: Jo and I are always stoked on each other.
So you guys met working at a music shop together?
Jo: Yeah they hired him (Edward) as a guitar teacher and that’s when we found ourselves really bored all the time and wanting to learn about electronic music and DJing. So we began experimenting with that. Since both of us came from a drum and guitar background, we used that time.. all that empty, empty time to kind of learn about stuff that ended up being our primary passions.
Edward: I think we’ve all secretly liked electronic music for a long time but it wasn’t cool to like it 10 years ago.
Well you yourself, Edward have a residency in Austin as a DJ and you (Jo) DJ as well.
Jo: Yeah, I tend to join him sometimes also, but he’s the primary residency holder.
Edward: I hold a couple residencies at two local places in Austin, if you ever want to hear good house music!!
Does that seem to influence your sound with Bright Light Social Hour?
Edward: That’s for sure part of it. DJing draws a lot of influence because it’s a different perspective than the traditional Bright Light sound and vibe. So being a part of a scene that is totally, [I say] ‘alien’, to what we usually produce definitely brings in a different perspective.
More psychedelic / rock?
Edward: Yeah, yeah! To incorporate more electronic elements within the electronic flow of how people react to dance music as opposed to the more rock dance side.
Edward: Yeah, ready to party!
Jack: The hillbilly side of it! Ultimately all these things resonate at the core of us, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to put them all together. Because they are all pieces that fit.
Jo: Yeah southern music is more concerned with the body – where (southern) bands have been a little slower and definitely involves your body more. House music exists to be the same, it is there to move your body. They have a lot more in common than people think when you take a look at it.
Edward: It’s all about having the right groove. If the groove isn’t there its not house music, and its not southern music to me. The groove is what makes you move, not how hard you play, or different. It’s all about the groove!
So what southern music influences your sound, what do you guys like to listen to?
Jack: The core of it is old blues music. Delta blues, which is an interpretation of a mix of a lot things, slave music, gospel etc. Influences for me are of course a lot of southern rock, like Allman Brothers and ZZ Top. It is music about prioritizing our physical body connection.
Curtis: Southern music is almost always behind the beat. It’s in the soul. Blues, funk, soul, hip hop, even.
What’s it been like to be able to grow with this band?
Jack: There’s definitely growing pains once and awhile, but you get past them, it feels good. You get used to it, and if you’re not growing you’re not a true artist, you need to evolve. You gotta crack your skulls open and dig deeper, make something new.
You’ve even grown your hair with the band!
Jack: We’re just so consumed with the band that we haven’t had time to cut it!