Contrary to popular belief, you sometimes have to leave Texas to experience the bigger things in life (and space). Austin’s The Bright Light Social Hour might have toured more time than they’ve actually spent at home in recent years. And they journey along the waves of outer-space and conquer in-between the dimensions of human existence through their music, but they’ve stayed so grounded. Jack O’Brien recently told The Aquarian Weekly why he, along with Curtis Roush, Joseph Mirasole, and Edward Braillif, tour for the communities. They released Space Is Still The Place last spring, with positive reception. But even more commemorated—their ability to take their shows to their fascinating places inside their music. They’ve shared the stage with Edward And The Magnetic Zeros, went through heartbreaking loss, and met some cool people along the way.
Although they’ve stopped in my home state once, Jack swears, “I dig it.” That’s good enough for me. Hell—he’s also looking forward to visit Quebec City for a second time. And poutine is almost as much an incentive as a New Jersey pizza, except… it’s not. It’s also been three years, and Jack had just found a bass guitar that he fell in love with since his last stolen one. He made peace with this in Oklahoma City. But when TBLSH isn’t traveling and touring (almost never), they are chatting with friends about possibly making visuals to complement future albums. Fans can all agree that their psychedelic music can complement the most altering illustrations. While waiting, you can watch the abundance of live footage online; that is something that the dudes are proud of. They do have plans to write and record more, so don’t think you’ve read the last interview.
Here are some more excerpts from my talk with Jack. Plot twist—it actually starts with him asking a question:
Do you know the name of that rock club in Asbury Park?
Gosh, I can’t remember the name… a little too long. But everyone there was so sweet. And after a couple days of days, we got our butts kicked in New York [City] because of playing a ton of shows and showcasing… staying out all night and handing out $20 bills. Asbury Park [New Jersey] was so friendly and warm. So, the only experience [in New Jersey] was a really good one!
Hope you come around more. Speaking of your shows, I love watching you guys live. I recently watched the one in Stubbs in Austin, and the crowd is always awesome. Is the reception different now that you’re so well-known, when you’re [playing] home?
You know, it has changed in our ticket price (laughs). It definitely cuts out a certain audience, the people like us… working-class artists and musicians and younger people. A lot of them… [it] has gone above their price point. So, any time we can do a free show or something under the radar, we are ALL about that. Austin has always been so warm and cool but it’s been home for a long time. And we have a lot of family, so it will always feel comforting and positive.
As long as it didn’t shake off that home feeling, that’s good.
There a lot of known bands from the town, and then the townspeople are like, “What happened?” “I have to pay this now to see you?…” But for us, it was really gradual, so it’s cool. We see people that have been coming for years and years.
Awesome. So, you know… I think it’s so cool that you record and produce yourselves, basically. You guys seem very connected with the fans, just ground level and this is who we are. This is the message. I wanted to know—do you record in the studio… or a basement? I want to know the environment.
So, it’s a little kind of cabin we rent out on this lake, outside of Austin.
Yeah, it’s super cool, super beautiful. We switch out staying there and somebody is always in there, like 24 hours a day… in there working. And then we try to meet up and camp to work out the music, kind of like a rehearsal stage… our studio. [We] eat a ton of tacos. It’s basically [on] this lake. [There] was this drought going on in Texas where [the lake] was so almost empty. And it looked like a giant crater on the moon. Super… just this… apocalyptic, trippy… I think it actually influenced our music. Now, it’s full of water. Everything is green.
So awesome that you mentioned the crater because I was going to say that I feel your music is influenced by outer space and stars and cool things like that. And you totally just confirmed that. In a cabin? That’s the coolest way to record.
Yeah, we are very fortunate.
I see that you sing about ego a big in the most recent album [Space Is Still The Place]. Where does that come from, or are these coincidences that I’m seeing?
[That’s] something we talk a lot about. All of us are on a journey to be less ego-aware, and ego-serving, and aware of the community and people around us… and the way we can evolve and work toward something better or more interesting in the future. I think if there is going to be any political change in the world around us, that’s going to require a social change. And a big social change is going to require a big personal change. So I think we are trying [to fight] an everyday battle against superficial desires and being greedy, working toward a more communitarian vibe—a more awareness of people around us, and work together.
Do you have any weird pleasures to listen to?
Last night, I was jamming to the new Miley Cyrus record. It’s kind of weird because it’s half guilty pleasure, but half bad-ass. Flaming Lips produced a lot. It was speaking to me. All she talks about is superficial [stuff] but it kind of makes sense. [There’s] a lot of frustrations and losing people and animals around you. And the whole thing is about her dead pets? It’s actually really sad.
I still remember in middle school, my rabbit died before I went in and I will never forget those moments. But anyway, I’m happy you had some time to talk to me because I know you’re so busy and have so much lined up. Before I let you go… I wanted to know if you had any plans after tour, or if you’re going to relax and go with the flow?
We have the [fall] tour, then I’m going to spend some time with my grandma in Mexico. [I’m going to] spend Christmas and New Year’s down there. Then, actually, very soon will announce more tour dates. So, we will be hitting the road again and again. After that, hopefully we will start writing and recording again.
The Bright Light Social Hour will be playing at Underground Arts in Philadelphia, PA on Oct. 28 and at The Bowery Ballroom on Oct. 30. For tickets and information, you can visit their website at thebrightlightsocialhour.com.