The story behind Austin’s four-piece The Bright Light Social Hour reads something like that of the fictitious band Spinal Tap.
Consider this: Three of the four Bright Light Social Hour members boast impressive facial hair, with front man Jack O’Brien’s comically large vaudevillian mustache topping them all. The drummer was plucked out of a high school drum line and the band’s ’70s rock ’n’ roll-meets-disco-and-Daft Punk style originated from The Bright Light Social Hour’s initial state as an art-collective/hardcore rock band with screaming vocals to boot.
“At the time, it was a fad we were into that we quickly grew out of,” O’Brien said with a laugh.
“As we got older, we started not planning what we wanted to play, and this is what we have naturally gravitated toward.”
The outfit has gone from Fugazi to Led Zeppelin and My Morning Jacket, with a propulsive, engaging and decidedly retro vibe that has served it well since 2007, when the quartet ditched the yelling for balls-out guitar rock.
Since that time, the band members finished up their studies at various graduate schools and the group became a full-time gig, one that has them committing serious chunks of time and learning every day.
“We’ve learned to be more tasteful,” O’Brien said. “Rather than, ‘Everyone throw in a solo here or crazy drum part there,’ we’ve learned to write for the good of the song, rather than interesting solo parts.”
Much of that maturity — albeit with a steady stream of silliness — made it onto the band’s 2010 self-titled release, buoyed by outrageous (and infectious) tracks such as the rapid-fire “Back and Forth” and goofy “Bare Hands Bare Feet.”
The band is working on a followup, but has no plans for a release date any time soon.
“We’re working on new material, but the approach we take — having four songwriters — makes it a very slow and meticulous process,” O’Brien said.
“So far, the ones we’ve written are a bit darker and thicker. It’s a harder back-beat and groove. I’m not sure where the rest of it will go, so I’m excited to see what comes out of the rest of it.”
Stream the band’s eponymous debut LP below.