On a recent trip to Austin, I met up with the band, The Bright Light Social Hour before the start of their winter tour. In 2011, Paste Magazine named The Bright Light Social Hour as “The Best of What Is Next” and they’ll be playing at Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night. The band is a well-known fixture in the Austin music scene after playing Blues on the Green and sweeping the Austin Music Awards for Band of the Year, Song of the Year (“Detroit”), Album of the Year and Producer of the Year. I chatted with Jack O’Brien (bass and vocals), A. J. Vincent (keyboard and vocal) and Joseph Mirasole (drums) about their allegiance to Austin, their thoughts on New York City and their excitement for the coming year.
Untapped: How does it feel to be playing at the Bowery Ballroom for your New York show?
A. J. : In Austin, you move from one club to another with a bigger capacity and production. In New York, we are taking a step up in the venue ladder.
Jack: Every show we have played in New York has involved opening up for Black Taxi.
Untapped: How is this upcoming New York show going to be different, performance-wise, than your other New York shows?
Jack: This is going to be our first tour with The Agency Group. This is the first show they are booking with us. A year ago was a our first real tour. It will be similar in that we will go back to eating sandwiches. We started being really good about eating homemade sandwiches and oatmeal. And then, over the last year, we went out to all these places and when we came back we were like, “We are out of money.”
Untapped: How did you guys connect with Black Taxi? Had you played together previously before the joint shows?
Jack: We were mutually impressed with each other musically. So anytime they think about coming down here we work it out. Likewise, when we go up there.
Question: Given the fact that you are about to play in front of New Yorkers, what comes to mind when you think about New York?
Jack: Everytime we play in New York we go to Katz’s Deli.
A.J.: The city never stops. Anytime of the day you can be somewhere, doing something. The city is great. It is its almost its own feature. In the morning, when you wake up and go to a deli, every store has Boar’s Head. You can devour a sandwich and travel to Brooklyn.
Jack: We love it. There is so much activity, music, food and people.
Joseph: Walking around Park Slope last time was actually very fun. We had to meet with The Agency Group so we spent an extra day in New York.
Jack: We saw the High Line. It was not blooming. Hopefully, one day we will be able to see the scenery when it is blooming one day.
Untapped: What can New Yorkers expect from your upcoming show?
A.J.: Hair. Sweat flying off of our hair.
Jack: We will be playing some new songs and trying music out that we have been working on. Expect a good time.
Untapped: How would you describe Austin to a New Yorker who has never stepped out of New York?
A.J.: It is not a desert. A lot of people seem to think it is a desert.
Jack: It is green. It is young and healthy. People are very laid back but also they are very ambitious creative minds. They attract a lot of people like that. They attract a lot of energy.
Untapped: Last year, the band performed at over one hundred shows. In terms of your past performances, what city has been the most responsive to your music in terms of reception and energy?
Joseph: Our performance in Austin at Blues on the Green in Zilker Park. You cannot dislike a crowd of 8,000 to 10,000 people. I took a picture from behind my drum set. It was a crowd for as far as the eye can see.
Jack: It was beautiful and the sun was setting.
A.J.: It was the biggest show we had ever played and it felt so natural. We were playing in our hometown. We were very in our element. It was a great show and I do not remember any hitches.
Jack: Awesome production. Awesome stage. Awesome crowd.
Untapped: What local bands are you looking out for in terms of local New York bands?
Jack: In New York, Black Taxi is putting there record out in a couple of weeks. Those are the main guys we are rooting for.
Untapped: What are your favorite Austin destinations?
A.J.: The Greenbelt; however, this last year we had a drought. Hopefully, this year we can swim.
Jack: We practice out on Lake Travis.
Joe: I have definitely enjoyed The Kingdom downtown because it is the only place for pure house music. It has been my number one spot anytime I leave the house.
Untapped: Your music video, “Back and Forth, is incredibly popular. How did the treatment for the video come to surface?
Jack: The director is a guy I knew in high school. He works in Hollywood doing editing and cinemotogroy. He mentioned to a friend that he wanted to come home for the holidays and do a video for a local band. He pitched the idea of being in a room and record the video with one set of walls and go through it a couple of times. Then we would switch the colors around in the editing. While we were recording it, it was hard to imagine how it was going to come out. But, he said, “Just get into it. Play it.” And then, he did several takes and mashed then all together. It was shot in the director’s mom’s garage. We built the set and put the walls together.
Joseph: The entire budget was $300.
Untapped: What are you most enthusiastic about for 2012?
Jack: Touring with The Agency Group.
A.J.: We are just getting started on this tour and it is going to be interesting to see how everything changes and what that will lead to.
Jack: In the past, it was do-it-yourself and we have come a long way. We have some people behind us who maintain a great deal of knowledge in terms of public relations.
Joseph: It was a year of planting seeds.