Feature: Interview with The Bright Light Social Hour

For the majority of the past year I have been touting Austin’s The Bright Light Social Hour as one of my favorite bands of the past 5 years. I was afforded the chance to chat with them on the phone the other day leading up to their stop in Fort Worth this Friday night and while transcribing the audio, I learned a couple of things about myself. 1) I do not type very quickly, and have now listened to this 20 minute interview at least 15 times. 2) I need to strike the following phrases from my vernacular: I gotcha; That’s cool; Rockin’ rockin’. Regardless, I enjoyed chatting with the band; they were entertaining as ever, and I plan to spread the gospel of The Bright Light Social Hour for a long time to come.

The Synaptic – We originally met last year during Dia de los Toadies, I met Curtis. And you guys were the highlight of the day as far as I was concerned. I came up to the side of the stage during your set and ran into several of the other musicians watching and one of the Toadies asked me what I knew about you guys. All I could say was “That they’re awesome”. Since then you guys have released your full length debut and a live EP as well as taking to the road heavily this year and snatching up a few Austin Music Awards. That had to be validating with Austin being such a music town.

TBLSH – It was awesome, it caught us by surprise – it was killer. It was exciting to be appreciated by the hometown, it takes a lot for them to take notice so it was really great, kind of like Austin giving us the tip of the hat and giving us the ability to move on to more national things it kinda made us realize we’ve done some solid work here and we could focus on some other things now.

The Synaptic – There is so much going on with the debut record. I’ve often compared you guys to a modern day 70’s prog-lite act, with hints of classic rock and funk infused. Is this accurate, or am I missing something?

TBLSH – We try to take some of our favorite elements from the best of classic rock, old soul and funk and rock, but we also a huge influence is modern day dance and house. We take a lot of tips on arrangement from that for sure. Our drummer Joe is a DJ and so that we have that sort of pulsing dance feel comes from that a lot of that music. We’re also starting to drift a little more psychedelic than we used to and we were talking about our recent writing that we’re getting a little darker and a little more out there which is nice. It’s been nice to work in a different direction,

The Synaptic – So far your work ethic appears to be fiercely DIY. Do you like being so hands on with everything? What’s in the big picture for The Bright Light Social Hour?

TBLSH – I feel like we’re always going to be hands on, and knowing what’s going on with the band and being super-involved but we’re just kind of working everything up to a threshold point to where we can’t handle this job anymore and we need to bring someone in to step it up. It’s exactly like growing a small business like a family diner. You need to keep growing the business.  We like being in charge of what’s going on. We’re bringing in some help with PR, management, financial help, those types of things. But we like being in charge of what’s going on and knowing the aspects of the business.

The Synaptic – How have the tours been?

TBLSH – They’ve been amazing. We just got back from a week and a half run to Florida and all the crowds were larger than expected. It was a really good turnout. The month-long tour we did before was a good tome, and we’re fixing to gear up for another 2 ½ month trip in the fall, we’re getting along really well, loved it, love being on the road meeting new friends and having fun with it. The hard thing about touring is a lot of markets take several trips before you start seeing results, and in just two visits we’ve seen our shows pickup quite a lot.

The Synaptic – Are you finding some contemporaries out there… likeminded acts? It seems like you guys might be difficult to pair up with other bands.

TBLSH – Occasionally in Austin yeah. I’d say it’s about the same as here. Sometimes you’re paired up fairly well and other times it’s a totally different style of music, bit it’s cool. One thing we really enjoyed playing with London Foals. Out of all the bands we played with they stuck out to us and were probably our favorite band we played with on the road.

The Synaptic – Has it been rough being a Texas band and just hitting the road, virtually unknown or has social networking played a hand in helping with other regions?

TBLSH – Absolutely. It helps keep us in touch with people every time we go we’re meeting new people, and promotion with Facebook we’re getting to know people we’ve met they’re helping promote. It’s great we have an up to the minute interaction with the people coming to see you and building relationships with people. Facebook helps a ton, Twitter does too.

The Synaptic – Florida seems to be popular with you guys, have they been receptive?

TBLSH – Tampa has become our largest market outside of Austin, closely followed by Miami. We’ve kept going back and they’re booking us great shows,

The Synaptic – It also seems you’re getting popular with the festivals and conferences, recently playing Antiwarpt in St Pete and with CMJ and MPMF shows on the horizon. Do you prepare for these types of shows differently than a headliner?

TBLSH – I don’t think so, I think every show has the same sort of mission statement for us it get up and play as hard as we can and give the audience the best time we can give them, doesn’t make a difference where it is, what the club or the size.

The Synaptic – Which do like better, being in front of a receptive audience or the challenge of winning over another unsuspecting crowd?

TBLSH – That’s a great question. We really love both, we feel very at home with the festival crowd, especially daytime outdoors. But yes, sometimes it can be a little harder to win over a crowd, it can be a challenge with winning over a crowd, and we’ve always been able to do in a way that is satisfactory to us. We love festival crowds but at the same time I like a big time Texas show where everybody knows the word and that’s incredible too. Sometimes were fit for crowds that already know us, and sometimes we’re fit for a crowd that does know us, it’s nice to go f*cking sh*t wild on a crowd that knows everything and it can make you go a little bit crazier in those situations and scream along with the crowd.

The Synaptic – I’ve known a couple of bands in the past who actually thrived better in the support role instead of a headliner, bands who seemed to take the challenge of a new audience head on better than they do as the main attraction.

TBLSH – It’s a challenge and brings out a fierceness in you. I don’t think we really know any boundaries with that sort of thing. We played this show in Austin, Blues on the Green, to 10,000 people The next day we were like “Let’s do 12,000” or push it even further. I always want to keep it and taking it further and further. . I don’t think there’s a perfect sized crowd.

The Synaptic – The last time you guys were in town there was some new material… have you been writing on the road and testing stuff out and when can we expect another record?

TBLSH – The last month or so, and leading up to this next trip and the upcoming months will be writing new stuff and road testing a bit. We want to write a surplus of music and whittle it down the best stuff for the next record. We’re definitely still quite a ways away from recording. But with our touring schedule it’s probably going to be at the earliest a year off, possibly even mid 2013.

The Synaptic – You guys have that seemingly difficult combination to find, crazy talented musicians who make fun music and generally have a good time, like with your videos. Who’s the mastermind behind Jack’s Moustache and The Vagina Dialogues?

TBLSH – Most of the time that’s Jack. Like Jack’s moustache took a life of its own as he was growing it out. The beginning of characterizing behind Jack’s Moustache came from when our producer on the last record, Danny Wright sent us an e-mail addressed from Danny’s moustache to Jack’s moustache in that sort of online language, LOL and etc. about how Danny’s moustache was looking forward to working with Jack’s moustache, taking a life of its own. When it came time to coming up with fundraising ideas for the record we just sort jokingly thought of putting Jack’s Moustache in charge of it. Vagina Dialogues was Jack’s idea too.

The Synaptic – Could there be a Bright Light Social Hour movie in the works?

TBLSH – Well hey, I think we’ve just birthed the idea right there. We’ve been kind of loosely talking about doing some sort of horror or a like a thriller or a zombie movie I think. (None of us have recollection of this conversation.) That’s an interesting idea. I will say most band movies are sub-par in terms of acting and that sort of thing. I’m not sure if it’s something we’d be confident taking on. Even in The Song Remains the Same which is one of the better band movies of all time is still pretty f*cking sh*tty in some parts. The short ones are a lot more manageable to work with in the internet format. Chances are there will be a little more of that in different forms. Documentaries as well, we’ve been working with some footage from the last tour and should be out before the next tour.

The Synaptic – Well we’re all definitely looking forward to the show on Friday night!

TBLSH – So are we, we’ve been looking forward to playing Lola’s for a while, and it should be a good show!

The Bright Light Social Hour plays Lola’s Saloon in Fort Worth tonight with My Wooden Leg and Vox and the Hound.

~ by thesynaptic on August 12, 2011.

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