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Interview: Bright Light Social Hour

October 23, 2016

The Bright Light Social Hour takes the phrase “Keep Austin weird” too literally in the best way. The band started by two former UT students, likes to bend the rules. Their music can’t be placed into one single genre or style but instead brings together a multitude of influences. Anything is fair game, from Americana-style guitar to ethereal disco-inspired sequences. Each song is its own unique version of the band’s idea of a possible progressive southern culture they call “Future South.” The Bright Light Social Hour doesn’t just make music, they make a statement.

The band has been together for 6 years and has 2 albums out: 2010’s eponymous

The Bright Light Social Hour

and 2015’s

Space Is Still the Place

. After listening to both, it’s easy to hear the growth that happened during that 5-year gap between LPs. While the two albums are obviously connected, the sound of their more recent album is cleaner and more mature. Stylistically,

Space Is Still the Place

is more varied and darker. The band is all about moving Southern culture forward, and the update in their music reflects that.

Bill Clinton, enjoying

Space Is Still the Place


One of the more interesting things that The Bright Light Social Hour does is their annual Halloween show. Every year, the guys play a show in full drag in honor of the holiday. This year, the show is at Club Dada in Dallas on October 29


. I’ve never seen their Halloween show, but I never pass up the chance to see a rock band perform in drag. I mean, come on, who would? Tickets for the show can be purchased at



Golden Girls


I got the chance to interview Jack O’Brien, one of the founding members of The Bright Light Social Hour. He plays the bass and does vocals and synth for the band. We talked about everything from acid sweaters to the drag tradition. Check out the interview below!

I think it’s a need to communicate and it being the way that I, and I think the rest of the band, communicates most fully. I think a need to share thoughts and emotions that are a little more abstract than words could portray.

God, what kind of shoes would we be? I feel like all the shoes I’m thinking of are too plain. I’m trying to think of interesting shoes. I think we would be really large high heels, big enough that a man could wear because I think we are all about obscuring boundaries and lines. And we like to cross dress on Halloween.

It started because we discovered that our drummer, Joe, really hated dressing up as a woman. I don’t remember how we found that out, and Curtis and I get a lot of enjoyment from doing that, so finding out Joe didn’t like it made it really exciting for us. And Halloween is Curtis’s birthday, so it was like his birthday gift that we would make Joe dress up with us. We almost always have a show on Halloween so it’s just worked out.

I think listening to each other. What’s really great about our situation, being so collaborative, is that we’re very open to the ideas of others. Sometimes, one of us will bring something and have a really concrete idea of how it will end up but someone else has an idea that completely sends it off the rails and makes it a whole new thing. It’s hard to be really open like that, but we’ve learned how to be really open to each other. But yeah, just being open to the suggestions of each other.

I’m actually gonna say HEB because they have these uncooked flour tortillas that are like the basis of my entire diet. You just put them in the pan, like 30 seconds on each side, and they come out perfect and even better than the ones they bake in the store.

There are a ton. It’s hard to nail down a few, but I’d have to say The Flaming Lips, Marvin Gaye, Chic. Those are some cornerstones I think. I could go on and name hundreds and hundreds of people who we’ve borrowed little things or have blown our minds and changed the way we do things but those are the ones who are more representative right now.

I think this one called Primavera sounds in Barcelona. The lineup is always amazing. I spent a year living in Spain when I was in college and have been dying to get back there and feel like Spain would be a good place for our music.

The best part of touring is definitely playing the shows. It’s kind of fun because, during that time, your whole life is centered around these shows so it feels like everything depends on each show. They become these really important events. And, through the shows, we get to connect with so many amazing people from faraway places who we would have never gotten so meet so I think the best part is performing for and connecting with people.

I would actually have to say late 90s hardcore, particularly this band, The Refused. I just don’t know anybody who still listens to hardcore music, so I can’t play it when anybody else is around or they would get really upset at the screaming vocals but I still love jamming to it super loud in my car.

I have a picture where I’m wearing this sweater that looks like an old 80s Christmas sweater but on acid so like that. I’d say it would be all of the weirdest, most clashing colors with really weird, clashing, acid-inspired designs because I think we are all about putting things together that don’t seem like they would work and trying to make a whole out of it that is something pleasant.

Go like/follow the band!

Article and interview by Sierra Brown. Pictures from The Bright Light Social Hour’s Facebook page.

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