Musical checks and balances

The Bright Light Social Hour maintain a democratic process for musical decisions

Bright Light Social Hour played at SXSW last week alongside the Sheepdogs
Image supplied by: Supplied
Bright Light Social Hour played at SXSW last week alongside the Sheepdogs

For Austin-based The Bright Light Social Hour, writing their “ass-shaking rock and roll music” is a democratic effort.

The quartet plays off each other’s personalities — some are organizers, idea-givers and others just criticize everything, said the band’s vocalist A.J. Vincent. But for the band, allowing for collective contribution is integral when creating authentic music.

“Everyone contributes to everything,” he said. “The fact that it’s democratic is good because there are checks and balances in the music we are making.”

The band formed in 2006 as an underground “hardcore spunky crazy [band] with screaming and stuff.” But at the hands of democracy, a new style evolved in 2007 when the band changed its lineup, losing member Thomas Choate and eventually Ryan O’Donoghue the following year.

“So far since then, everything we’ve done together has been a little workshop,” Vincent said.

The band’s musical influences are more personal and eclectic than political. For Vincent, musical influences bounce from classic rock to Motown to old-style electronic and even verging on to contemporary indie-rock and electronic music.

This diversity in musical influence is brought together with on-the-road inspiration, crediting days off and time on the bus as their inspiration.

“After being on the road … it’s about different feelings about being away from everything, being in outer-space kind of, but at the same time not hopeless,” Vincent said. “It’s just about feeling out there.”

It’s for this reason that The Bright Light Social Hour is playing in Kingston for the first time. Adventure, for the Texas band, is as much a part of their musical outlook as their democratic construct.

According to Vincent, the band’s preference for playing in old-style theatres echoes this sense of adventure. The natural acoustic quality of these venues allows for a more dynamic and vibrant experience for both the band and their fans.

“A theatre-type [venue] has a naturally acoustically awesome set up,” he said. “In Life, Keith Richard’s autobiography, he talks about how theatres are his favorite places to play just because it sounds so amazing.”

The band’s complementary combination of talent and tenacity led them to win an Austin music competition in 2008 out of 1,500 contestants. From there, the band gained increasing popularity after releasing their self-titled album in 2010.

The band’s popularity after the album release allowed them to broaden their tour destinations, starting in Miami.

“We ended up booking things a whole lot easier and we started going to New York and went out west for the first time,” he said. “Now we’re running into here where we signed up with a Toronto and New York agent and now we’re touring way more with bigger shows.”

As for right now, The Bright Light Social Hour plans to “bounce around” Canada and the United States, expanding their shows and reaching out to audience-members across the continent. Vincent said their ultimate goal is to keep expanding their tour further.

“We hope to just continue playing a bunch of shows, playing at festivals, working and releasing our next album, and hopefully get to see Europe and maybe even Australia.”

The Bright Light Social Hour play the Mansion tonight at 9 p.m.


AJ Vincent, Interview, The Bright Light Social Hour

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