By Jacob Katel
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Case in point: Austin's Bright Light Social Hour combines its Southern roots with good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll, tossing off songs that make you wanna lean back, close your eyes, and smile.
The six-time Austin Music Award-winning band will perform at the Stage this Thursday. So New Times chatted with the boys of Bright Light Social Hour about facial hair, the Austin music scene, and rocking out in Miami.
170 NE 38th St.
Miami, FL 33137
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: Midtown/Wynwood/Design District
New Times: How did Bright Light Social Hour come together?
Jack O'Brien (bass and vocals): We've all just been music lovers our whole lives. Curt and I met at university here in Texas. We started a hardcore experimental group, very different from what we're doing now. We named it Bright Light Social Hour. The name conveyed what we wanted — a communal, optimistic kind of feel. And then Joe [Mirasole, drums] we found on Craigslist. A.J. was a friend growing up. The four of us have been playing together for four years.
How would you describe your music?
O'Brien: I think we're the worst people to ask. But I would say it's kind of centered on rock 'n' roll with a Southern feel to it. We also mix in a lot of influences from soul and funk to get something that's forward-looking and new to us.
How did you guys get from hardcore to soulful, funky rock 'n' roll?
Curt Roush (guitar and vocals): I think we've always liked diverse kinds of music. We were raised by parents who liked classic rock. Then we got into soul, funk, electronic, and dance. I think we grew a desire to synthesize this music. It was something we could all get behind. It moved us away from louder, scruffy hardcore stuff.
You describe your song "Shanty" as pairing Southern rock with hard disco. How does that happen?
O'Brien: I think it's just what we were all listening to at the time and what we were all into. We were listening to a lot of Allman Brothers at the time. Our drummer is a DJ, so the arrangement was a lot of disco and pulse. It was very natural.
What influence has the Austin scene had on Bright Light Social Hour?
A.J. Vincent (keyboard and vocals): We're all from Austin. Growing up, when you're 8 years old, you're in a blues bar with your parents. And you're just always around it and you become accustomed to having live music around you all the time. Playing it is our comfort zone.
You've already played a few Miami gigs in the recent past. What have your Magic City experiences been like?
O'Brien: We'd never played outside of Texas until we were invited to the Miami Music Festival back in November. We love it. It's incredible. People have told us repeatedly that Miami music is centered around clubs, so they don't get their fair share of rock 'n' roll and people love it.
Vincent: You spend forever getting down there, and then all of a sudden you pop into this huge oasis. We have a great time in Miami, and the people are superenthusiastic and awesome. You get to go into a city, play a show, and party with the people until sunrise and then leave.
What's with the long hair and facial hair?
O'Brien: A.J. was growing his out and we saw how much fun he was having onstage. So we wanted to join in.
Vincent: I always had this thing. When music was doing well, I would grow it out. And when it wasn't, I would cut it. So when Bright Light Social Hour started doing well, I started growing it out.
Roush: Facial hair is really fun to have. It's kind of a fun thing to constantly have a beard and mustache, to constantly have hair coming out of your face.