about

We’re a band that makes music with irrelevant technology.

It’s indie rock or new wave or something with a host of sounds most people can’t explain. Our instruments are guitars, drums, vocals, as well as video game consoles, computers, and synths from the 80s and 90s and some creations of our own.  For a taste, visit our Soundcloud. For more thoughts, keep reading…

I grew up playing drums in punk bands and tinkering with my 386.  In college I developed both of these passions a bit more – I started singing, playing guitar, learning about computer music synthesis, and acquiring a real appreciation for the 90s chipmusic scene.  After eventually getting my computer science degree, I moved to Seattle in 2010 to start a new job.

Here I started building and modifying new and refurbished “instruments” in my free time.  The one that catches everyone’s eyes is my red Play It Loud DMG-01 Game Boy, modified with some fancy lights, a few custom audio outs, and MIDI In and Out.  It’s also the instrument that stands out most uniquely in my music.  But I’ve also built microphones out of old telephones, synths out of Commodore 64 parts, Amiga MIDI controllers, modified Casiotones… the list goes on.  Most musicians wouldn’t consider many of these to be real instruments, but that’s part of what I think makes Bright White Lightning was it is – for me, if it makes sounds that you can control, it’s an instrument.  And the songs I write strive to include as many of these unconventional instruments as possible, paired with punk rock drum and guitar sounds I’ve always loved.

Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve also met a lot of like-minded people who’ve been eager to help tinker and explore and compile knowledge to create something more.  That’s when my bedroom distorted bleep sounds finally evolved into an official music project.  In December 2011, Bright White Lightning played its first show as a 3-piece.

Our first show: Alex (left) on bass and keyboards, Joey (right) on drums and guitar, myself (center) on vocals, Game Boy, and guitar.

I will never forget the guy who stood there dancing to our 40 minute set only to come over at the end, eagerly shake our hands, introduce himself, and ask “so what was the Game Boy for?” I realized then that not everyone will always understand (or care to understand) why the music we play sounds the way it does. But nevertheless, I hope that most people can appreciate at least the musicality of what we do, if not also the esoteric technology behind it as well. For those outside of the chiptune community, our music sounds very “blippy” and for those deeply rooted in the chipscene, it isn’t nearly blippy enough.  But I don’t mind that it’s hard to apply a typical genre label to Bright White Lightning.  My goal is to make the most interesting music I can using whatever unconventional tools are at my disposal.  Guitars and keyboards, Nintendos and Amigas.

A typical weekend night, tinkering away

A typical weekend night, tinkering away

We’ve released two EPs over the past few years, Bad Teeth in 2012 and Dirty Nails in 2014, both with the help of the fantastic folks at Data Airlines. It’s been a pleasure to meet and collaborate the folks releasing music over there – they all have great chops, interesting taste, and have been real helpful in ensuring that we keep writing and producing cool music. Without the support from these folks, I might be playing in a stoner metal band right now or something.

Dirty Nails – our second EP on cassette

It’s February 2016 and after taking a little bit of a break from writing new music, I’m at it again. I’ve got a pretty fulfilling and busy life outside of music, but no matter what I do, I always come back to tinkering, composing, playing, recording, producing. Rinse and repeat. And hopefully it’ll stay this way for many years to come. Expect a new record in 2016.  It’ll be bigger and better than the previous two.

/scott howell

 

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