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Q&A: THE BRIGHT LIGHT SOCIAL HOUR

The Bright Light Social Hour_photo by Wylie Maercklein.jpg

Upon first glance, the homepage for The Bright Light Social Hour looks very much like a typical band Web site, with well-marked areas devoted to merchandise, tour dates, photos and contact information.

Then there’s something off to the right of the homepage that’s a bit unordinary — the part labeled Jack’s Moustache. It takes viewers to a well-made and funny band video that stars bassist/singer Jack O’Brien‘s stellar ‘stache, which is given its own voice and explains how fans can contribute funds toward the recording of the Austin, Texas-based rock band’s debut album.

That fund drive is over, and The Bright Light Social Hour’s self-titled debut has been available since September 2010. But the clip continues to serve as a great glimpse into the quartet’s broad sound, its lively stage show, collective personality and, obviously, sense of humor. With big wins in March at the annual Austin Music Awards — including band of the year, album of the year and song of the year (“Detroit”) — The Bright Light Social Hour has a future that looks, well, very bright.

Prior to the start of their spring tour, bassist O’Brien, singer/guitarist Curtis Roush and drummer Joseph Mirasole checked in to talk about their attention to sonic detail, the band’s rules while on the road and, of course, a certain mustache.

Medleyville.us: How has life in Austin changed for the band since cleaning up at this year’s Austin Music Awards?
Jack O’Brien: “It’s mainly just been being bothered about when we’re going to be back in Austin playing again. It’s kind of funny because we’re doing all of these out-of-town dates, and we’re just constantly being asked to play in town. We’ll wind up our tour here, so we’re excited about that. But also, more bands and more people here in Austin in the scene have reaching out about working with us, which is awesome.”

Joseph Mirasole: “I feel like it may have had an affect as far as first impressions go to a lot of people who are checking us out … It’s a bit of validity.”

What did using five different studios to record the band’s debut album do for the overall sound?
Curtis Roush: “The record was [mostly] recorded at two studios. We recorded the drums and bass to analog tape at a studio in Austin. We recorded the bulk of the guitars and vocals and a few other things at the home studio of our producer, Danny Reisch.

“The other studios — we were filling in a few critical sounds we were looking for that we didn’t really want to do any other way. We wanted a really nice grand piano, a really nice Hammond organ and Leslie setup, so we found ourselves having to look up local studios and local producers and try to find the instruments and recording situations we needed to fill out the rest of the record. We were fortunate to find a lot of helpful folks who saw to it that we got what we needed.”

What’s the most memorable or interesting feedback you’ve heard about the band’s sound?
O’Brien: “I just got a Facebook message from an old friend who saw us play this festival; it was the first time he’d seen us in a long time. He said, ‘Have I ever told you that ‘Detroit’ is the cock-rockingest song I have ever heard? If this [song] doesn’t get me laid …’ We definitely get feedback on the fun side of the set, the nastiness of it, and that’s cool to hear and always interesting.”

Does the band follow any set rules on the road when it comes to restaurant choices, personal space or anything else?
O’Brien: “If you fart, open the window — that’s the main rule (laughs). Other than that, though, we’re all over each other’s stuff.”

Mirasole: “There’s no personal space at all. Even if we wanted it, we wouldn’t have any, but fortunately none of us has space issues at all.”

Roush: “And the driver of the moment chooses the music.”

Where does Jack’s mustache rank in the history of rock ‘n’ roll?
Roush: “Jack, I don’t know if you’re best qualified to talk about your own moustache. But I would say, personally, that Jack has perhaps the finest moustache in rock ‘n’ roll history. I would put it up against any other moustache.”

O’Brien:Frank Zappa — I’ve always been a huge fan of his ‘stache. I definitely have some length on him, but his is stately.”

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

The Bright Light Social Hour on tour (schedule subject to change):

* May 12: Celtic Irish Pub — Pascagoula, Miss.
* May 13: The 321 Local — Cocoa, Fla.
* May 14: WMNF Tropical Heatwave Festival — Tampa, Fla.
* May 15: Will’s Pub — Orlando, Fla.
* May 16: Bougainvillea’s — Miami
* May 19: Midtown Bar & Grill — Charleston, S.C.
* May 20: Hang Fire — Savannah, Ga.
* May 21: The Max Canada — Athens, Ga.
* May 22: Masquerade — Atlanta
* May 24: The Middle East — Boston
* May 25: The Mercury Lounge — New York
* May 26: Up or on the Rocks — Hartford, Conn.
* May 27: The Saint — Asbury Park, N.J.
* May 28: The Rathaus — Philadelphia
* June 1: The Village Idiot — Toledo, Ohio
* June 2: The MOTR Pub — Cincinnati
* June 4: Fine Line Music Café — Minneapolis
* June 5: The Double Door — Chicago
* June 9: 8.0 Bar — Fort Worth, Texas
* June 10: Warehouse Live — Houston
* June 11: Mohawk — Austin, Texas

Photo by Wylie Maercklein