The Bright Light Social Hour had six wins at this year’s Austin Music Awards. Could an independent band from central Texas be the beacon of hope we have been waiting for? Any live footage of the band will answer that. These guys are the beacon, the island and the ocean it sits within.
We spoke with Jack O’Brien (bassist/vocals) before the band’s April 25 gig at Cafe du Nord.
You say that The Bright Light Social Hour was formed out of a university art-rock collective. Were other members involved at first and you then pared down to the 4 current members? How was the name born?
There were 4 members from the beginning, but the lineup rotated and went in and out of hiatus until the current lineup formed about 4 years ago. The name was actually still born, resurrected by love.
You recently had six wins at the Austin Music Awards including Band of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year (“Detroit” from your self-titled debut). Did you feel you were on a steady path to that moment or was it surprising to find you were so loved and supported in a city literally crawling with other bands?
It really came as a huge surprise for us. Austin has no shortage of talented musicians and bands so it really meant a lot to get the nod in such a big way.
Are you all HUGE Friday Night Lights fans?
We just love hearing Explosions in the Sky every episode.
You are in the middle of a giant US & Canada tour. What things go on in your chariot—which you fondly refer to as Vaniel Day Lewis—aside from facial hair grooming and hamstring stretches to prepare for the show that night?
Most of the time is spent on our laptops churning out emails and staying on top of the business. Jo rigged up a sweet DJ setup so he can do live mixes from the back bench through the van stereo. I also spend a lot of time editing video footage from the road to post on YouTube.
What are some bands, new or old, that you are currently listening to in Vaniel Day Lewis?
On this tour, we’ve been listening to Modeselektor, Pallbearer, Canned Heat, Sepalcure, High on Fire and Willie Nelson ,to name a few.
You are currently self-releasing your albums. Are you looking for label representation or do you prefer keeping the control (and the financials) close to home?
Everyday that the band grows, remaining independent seems more feasible, but we are definitely interested in label representation given the right terms . As much as we fancy controlling all aspects of the business and fundraising, the reality is releasing future albums of the caliber and reach we desire would be possible, but challenging without label financing and distribution.
What are your thoughts on the supposed decline of the music industry?
The industry as a whole is certainly not declining. As the paths between artist and listener become more direct, many facets of the music industry are quickly becoming obsolete, but innovation and growth in new areas are increasing more than ever.
Do you feel that bands need to be more creative these days to survive?
How has your approach changed over the years?
Our approach is constantly in a state of refinement, but I’d say the biggest change since our start has been the heavy emphasis placed on touring. Online promotion is always becoming more important, but there’s no replacement for getting your hands dirty and connecting with fans through live performance and personal interaction.
The Bright Light Social Hour play Wednesday, April 25 at Café du Nord. Doors are at 7pm and the show is at 8pm. Allofasudden and HIJK provide support. Tickets are $10 and the show is 21+.