Austin psychedelic rockers The Bright Light Social Hour are strong believers in “Future South” and want to share it with anyone who will listen. The band released their second album “Space is Still the Place” last month via Frenchkiss Records and have been on the road touring since then. Before their Chicago show at the Empty Bottle tonight, bassist and vocalist Jack O’Brien took time to chat about the new album, crashing at strangers’ houses, and “Future South.”
Your new album “Space is Still the Place” encompass something you guys call “Future South.” Can you break down what that means?
Jack O’Brien: Yeah, it was kind of a guiding theme for us during the writing of the album. Musically, it refers to taking from our favorite forms of southern music and finding ways to usher them into the future, incorporating expansive, psychedelic, future-leaning sounds, synthesizers, electronic textures, etc. But it has a political aspect too. Touring so much in the South, we wondered a lot about what the future of this part of the country could look like moving from the back to the front end of American progress, politically, economically, [and] regarding education. We just saw so much struggle among the people of our generation, and that’s not just a southern problem.
What was the recording process for this album like?
Jack: We recorded it all ourselves in the studio we set up out of our practice space outside Austin. The amount of exploration that went into the recording is something we could never have afforded to do in a studio where we were paying day rates and hiring producers/engineers. It was a huge learning process. We’d record one specific bit, drums, for example, a hundred different ways before establishing what we felt was the best sound and vibe for the record. And we had the ability to experiment a lot with textures and effects, like running a lot of the vocals, guitars and synthesizers through a Leslie rotating speaker cabinet or several Moogerfooger analog effects pedals.
For your last tour you guys stayed with people in various cities instead of hotel rooms. Do you plan to do the same for this tour?
Jack: We definitely have been on this tour when we have the opportunity. It’s so incredible to really see into the lives and homes of people we’d never get to know if it wasn’t for the music. Sometime motels are unavoidable; when we’re driving through the middle of nowhere or in desperate need to catch up on sleep, but we plan to stay with peeps when we can.
Does that experience of staying with people have any influence on your music?
Jack: Definitely. It’s so humbling to see how people can be so generous, I mean, to take in a band of traveling people that you probably know very little about, it’s really amazing. And to get a peek into their lives and their struggles, that’s really what a lot of this new record is about. We’ve started a blog about it this tour, documenting some of the people we meet and stay with with a little insight into their stories and struggles. It’s called Future South.
Can you tell me a bit about the new single “Infinite Cities?”
Jack: It’s about moving the way we do, feeling like the world and different cities are moving around you, longing for home but finding a way to feel settled and make a home in the movement.
It’s finally starting to get warm in Chicago. What’s your favorite thing to do in the city when you stop by?
Jack: Our first stops in Chicago always include Chicago Music Exchange and Hot Doug’s. Duck foie gras sausage on fleek!
You can catch The Bright Light Social Hour tonight (April 17) in Chicago at the Empty Bottle. Tickets are still available. They’ll be spending the rest of April and May on the road touring in support of their new album “Space is Still the Place,” available now. Listen to their current single “Infinite Cities” here. Make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.