Interview: What inspired The Bright Light Social Hour to record a song for political hero Wendy Davis
KV: Set the scene for us, Tuesday night Twitter began to explode with news of something special going on in Austin.
Curtis: We got involved at the last little minute when things were really getting hot. I had been following all week on Twitter and on the news and that night we had gone out to a pot luck, a local tradition, and then things started heating up at the capitol. More and more people were showing up so we decided to check it out. When we got to the capitol we were able to walk right in and it was just an amazing scene. People were chanting and taking footage with their phones and following the whole thing, we were all deeply inspired by it.
KV: What was the crowd like at the capitol?
Jack: We knew one or two people there. What was really cool about the crowd was they were very loud and persistent, not being mob like, just giving good vibes and good energy. There were people of all ages, the majority in their late 20s and 30s, mostly women but otherwise a huge variety of people.
KV: What happened at the end of the night, it seemed like after almost 11 hours Davis actually needed the crowd’s help to bring it home?
Curtis: Her filibuster was brought to an end by some parliamentary tactics. Senators were trying to bring different points of order to hold off the end of the filibuster and at one point it looked like the vote was going to go through but all the folks in the gallery started making so much noise that they were unable to take a vote. It was really the first time I’ve ever heard of anything quite like that.
KV: How did the song come to be?
Jack: It was just the energy of that room, knowing that it was a focal point of something very powerful. We were chanting and bobbing our heads and I looked over to the guys and wondered “Are they thinking what I’m thinking?” And in two seconds we all said “Let’s go do it.” So we jumped in the car, drove out to the studio, got to work, and didn’t stop until it was done.
KV: So can you confirm you were the three giddy young men running and shouting “to The Bat Cave” from the capitol?
Jack: Yes that was us, we remember that guy. That was awesome.
KV: I love the comments on Youtube. Some of them are really amazing, people from all over the world have been inspired by your song. How does that feel knowing that people everywhere are celebrating Davis’ feat through your music?
Curtis: For us it’s something that we have struggled with for a long time, to figure out ways that politics and music can meet. I think it’s so hard to do without coming across as shrill, or alienating, but I think that feeling kind of hit us that night. The inspiration, the passion, it’s just so awesome to be able to finally bring music and politics together in a meaningful way.
KV: You guys wrote “La lucha sigue” on the video page for the Wendy Davis video which translates into “The struggle continues,” what does that mean to you guys exactly?
Curtis: I had an old college professor who was kind of a mentor for me when it comes to political issues and political mentality. He used to write “La lucha sigue” on everything.
Jack: It comes from Zapata right?
Curtis: Yeah! He was a Latin American politics prof. I think that phrase just meant a lot to us.
Jack: The slow persistent march of progress, to be realistic and honest and patient and always moving forward.
KV: How do you see the struggle in Austin now?
Curtis: You know Austin is one of real progressive places in Texas. What’s interesting now is these tendencies are kind of spilling out and really change the shape of what Texas’ politics looks like. I think the issues have brought a lot of diverse groups together and they’re starting to question the political status quo. I hear talk about Wendy Davis being nominated for the Governor’s race. The democrats might really have a chance at making some inroads and change what is otherwise a deeply conservative state. I think it could be what people look back on as a key turning point for the political landscape in Texas, not just Austin.
KV: Other musicians have also come out in support of Wendy Davis, the most vocal being Lil’ B, a rapper in the hip hop group “The Pack”. Do you think that same political momentum will continue to spill over into the musical community as well?
Curtis: We certainly hope so, the more the merrier. We want to bring everyone in to support a cause we are all involved with.
KV: You mentioned earlier that you’ve previously struggled to connect your music and politics, do you see the band trying to work your politics into the music in the future?
Curtis: If we can provide a meaningful reflection that is true to ourselves and true to the music that we are trying to make and also be involved in a political conversation then I think we’re happy to be taking part.
KV: OK, I have to ask. You’re at home in Austin busy recording an album themed “Future South,” how’s it coming along?
Curtis: We’re just tracking it! We just started tracking a couple days ago, drum tracks, bass tracks, we’re moving along fairly quickly now.
KV: And when can we expect to hear some of the new album?
Jack: Early 2014.
KV: I’m looking forward to it. Thanks a lot for recording the video and stopping to talk.
For more on the Wendy Davis filibuster read The American Prospect’s review here.