By: Jailene Adorno
The Bright Light Social Hour is a band from Austin, Texas that prides itself in their funk, psychedelic sound. With their new album out and tour in full swing, they stopped by the WERS station for Live Music Week. Their newest album Space is Still the Place was released in March of this year and features their single “Infinite Cities.”
They took a step in a different direction with Space is Still the Place. Their previous album, which was self-titled and released back in 2010, had more a rock and roll sound. However, this new album has a more funk and psychedelic rock tone, making it feel like it’s coming straight from the 60s. They decided to experiment more with their music by using synthesizers to create a sound that takes you into outer space.
Their new album was inspired by their experiences while they were touring. A lot of the people that they met and stayed with really made an impression on them.
“It really gave us this insight into like how young people in this country are living right now,” said bassist Jack O’Brien. “It’s just interesting to see the same kind of struggle day in and day out and seeing into these people’s lives.”
O’Brien also spoke about how some people are really just struggling to get by. It was something that he and his band mates could really relate to. They find it interesting how while one may feel isolated, they’re not really alone in that sentiment because there are so many people out there who feel the same exact way. While touring, they often talk about outer space and the cosmos. That talk of outer space has really influenced their new sound by giving it this other worldly tone to it.
“Space kind of became this sort of metaphor for this future that we kind of imagined,” he said. The first song that they performed was called, “Sweet Madelene.” It started off with these sweet psychedelic riffs which were then accompanied by dramatic drums that really beckon you to want more. There are some resonating lyrics that are repeated over and over, “Sweet Madelene, you don’t know my name.” It’s in this song that we get a taste of that new funk, psychedelic sound.
Next, they sang “Ghost Dance,” which featured beautiful harmonies from O’Brien and guitarist Curtis Roush as they sang a series of “Na na na na na’s.” The song starts off with O’Brien playing a very funk-infused melody on bass that then launches the rest of the band into the song.
Lastly, they band performed their single “Infinite Cities,” which they recently shot a music video for. The lyrics for “Infinite Cities” really captured the essence of the band with their trance-like sound. The opening lines alone are enough to make you want to hear more, “Standing without places/rotation into phases/neon constellations/echoing the nameless.” So what does “The Bright Light Social Hour” really mean? Curtis Roush explained all.
“In college I had a course on Hinduism and there was a day where we just watched a video featuring this Indian activist Arundhati Roy,” said Roush. “She had a quote something to the effect of ‘the job of an activist is shine a bright light on the darker corners of society and culture.”Roush really liked the quote and found that it was very much applicable to what musicians and artists are usually trying to do with the work that they create. In addition to meeting new people while touring, members of the Bright Light Social Hour have also started to embrace their love of chicken tenders or as they called them “tendies.”
“We have a really serious tendie addiction,” said drummer Joseph Mirasole. Before performing, the Bright Light Social Hour like to get into the zone with Breath of Fire which is a practice of Kundalini Yoga. With Breath of Fire, they take fast breaths through the nose.
“It’s supposed to release like toxins from your lungs,” said O’Brien. “And afterward, you just feel really relaxed.” Check out the Bright Light Social Hour’s tour as they hit up Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Nashville. Be sure to tune in and hear more from your favorite musicians as Live Music Week continues!