If you can't love Texas for anything else (and definitely not basketball), be thankful that the Lonestar State puts out some really great music.
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 Awards winners will be at The Stage next Thursday. And recently, Crossfade got the chance to chat with Bright Light Social Hour about facial hair, the Austin music scene, and rocking out in Miami.
Crossfade: Why Bright Light Social Hour? How did it happen?
Jack O'Brien (bassist/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 community, optimistic kind of feel. Joe we found on Craigslist, AJ was a friend growing up. The four of us have been playing together for four years.
How did you guys get from hardcore experimental to the music you're playing now
Curt Roush (guitarist/vocals): I think we've always liked a diverse kind 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.
How does the Austin music scene influence you guys?
A.J. Vincent (keyboard/vocals): We're all from Austin. Growing up, when you're eight 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.
How would you describe your music?
O'Brien: I think that 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.
You guys describe "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 and pulse was a lot of disco and pulse. It was very natural.
Vincent: As kind of a side note, if you've seen the "Shanty" music video,
there's a point when there are some crazy lights at that show. The
lights are just perfect for the lights of that song. It's just like the
best example of what we mean by funky disco with that song.
I have to ask. Is the long hair and facial hair meant to match?
O'Brien: All of that is also quite natural. I've always had a beard and mustache going on.
Vincent: I've been shaving lately!
O'Brien: A.J. was growing his out and we saw how much fun he was having on stage. 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. Headbanging on stage is really fun.
O'Brien: It's definitely nothng we've ever thought about or talked about. I'm
playing music most of the time, so I've also stopped going to the barber.
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.
Vincent: Curtis is a beard sculptor. He's really good.
Roush: I was featured on a blog called Fuck Yeah Beards last week. [The photo] is particularly unflattering. I look like Forest Gump.
O'Brien: He looks exactly like Forrest when he runs for three years and stops shaving.
You guys start your tour in a few days. What have your experiences in Miami been like?
O'Brien: We'd never played outside of Texas until we were invited to the Miami Music Festival back in November. In May, we did our first tour. In
September and October, we'll be doing a big big East Coast tour.
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 then
party with the people until sunrise and then leave.
What's next for you guys?
O'Brien: We're currently working on new music and planning to record in the next year. So it's all a matter of what can we fit in between touring and
South by Southwest. We'll be playing some of our new music in Miami.
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Mostly completed songs that we're going to be testing out out there.
Bright Light Social Hour. Thursday, August 4. The Stage, 170 NE 38th St., Miami. Call 305-576-9577 or visit thestagemiami.com.