BRIGHTLIGHT CITY (from l-r): Tom Stock (bass/vocals), Jamie Giarraputo (vocals), Justin Giarraputo (guitar/vocals), Jono Staunton (guitar), Ben Bell (drums)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Armed with a strong sonic combination of elements of rock, indie, and alternative rock, five-piece Brightlight City are an outfit ready to unleash their full potential with debut album, ‘The Harmony & The Chaos‘, which comes out next month, an follows on from their well-received 2017 first EP, ‘Our Future’s Not Dead‘, and the band’s guitarist/vocalist, Justin Giarraputo, recently spoke to me about its recording process, what can be expected from the upcoming release, and much more.
How did the band initially get together?
The short version – the band started with me and my brother Jamie recruiting long-time friend Jono to start writing music with big riffs and even bigger choruses.
After a few members came and went, Jamie heard Ben practicing in a rehearsal studio he used to run and own. Ben then came down and learnt the songs, and he fitted the energy of the band instantly.
Ben then brought Tom into the fold, and the band began to incessantly write, record, and play live.
How did the name Brightlight City come about?
Whilst experimenting with a number of names, we settled on the name Brightlight City, as it seemed to fit our ambitions and passion for our music, with the bright bursting rhythms and hooks, which were underpinned by personal, social, and emotional themes.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
Our approach has been something that we have learnt over the last three-and-a-bit years of playing together. We started trying to write as a band in a small space, which did throw up some great ideas and riffs, but for us, it always hit a wall, as sounds were fighting each other.
We now have found that it is easier to thrash out ideas either individually, or in pairs, then bring it to the rest of the band. We also have invested our time (and money) into our own home studio set-up, which allows us to record and lay down the parts before even bringing the ideas to a rehearsal space.
That way, we can send ideas to each other and work on them in our own time before playing them together and committing them to tape on a recording.
Our album (‘The Harmony & The Chaos‘) was pretty much recorded in our two main home studios (one at Tom’s where we recorded the drums, all of the guitar, bass and keyboard parts plus additional vocals, and at Jamie’s where we recorded the main vocals).
This has worked so successfully that myself and Tom have already written six tracks for a new album/EP, which the others are now working out parts for.
In 2017, the band brought out their debut EP, ‘Our Future’s Not Dead’, to positive reviews, and praise from the likes of Kerrang! magazine. How was the response to that for you all personally?
The response was amazing, when you are so heavily invested in writing and performing your music, it feels great to get a pat on the back (or 4 Ks) from a magazine like Kerrang!
We always come from the standpoint of writing music that has passion, honesty and that we love to listen to.
It was really great to read the reviews and response we had for ‘OFND‘ as we did, and still do believe in and love those songs. However, we are really excited at hearing the response to the album, as we put every single piece of our passion, time, blood, sweat, and tears into creating it.
Standing back and listening to it for us is a journey, but we feel it fits as one cohesive piece to define where the band were, and hopefully carves out the direction we will be following over the next releases.
In May, you will be unveiling your first album, ‘The Harmony & The Chaos’. How was the recording process for that?
The recording process – for us – was great, I really feel we grew as a band, and as a collective. We pushed ourselves as individuals to try and better each guitar line, drum fill, and vocal hook that we wrote.
At times it was exhilarating, other times, you felt like you could barely see the light at the end of the tunnel, but to come through it and have the set of songs we have now, we all feel proud of what we have created.
One of the last choruses we recorded was for a song called ‘Who You Are‘. It has this group end refrain in which Jamie summed up the process beautifully with his lyrics -“Make your way through the dark, finding out who you are.”
And how will the upcoming release differ stylistically to the EP?
Stylistically, we worked on pushing our song writing into some different directions. We tried to think of our favourite styles present in our favourite songs, so huge choruses with huge hooks, making something nice sound discordant, the “quiet/loud /quiet” approach to the unrelenting straight-up punk and hardcore vibes.
There are a number of themes on the album, as not only do we look at current social and political views, but Jamie became quite insular, and looked at how his genetic make-up and how he personally impacts on the world he lives in.
There are moments on every song of this album where the lines sung are soaked in emotion and deeper meaning, and this is something we always strive to create, which is music with a purpose that others can relate to.
One of the album’s tracks, the recently-released ‘Statues & Monuments’, deals frankly with Jamie’s struggles with anxiety and depression. Obviously, you all think it’s good that there are more open discussions on mental health now.
It is a fantastic thing that we now are starting to turn the tide on the stigma attached to mental health. Rather than just brush it under the carpet or tell someone to “man up“, we are starting to realise the importance of what it means to support each other through our personal battles.
If we could all have more compassion for each other, and start to work together for the benefit of the communities we are part of, with love and understanding rather than being judgmental and competitive, the world we inhabit would become a less scary place.
I really feel that there are infrastructures in place within our society to keep everyone in a state of apathy, which only benefit a minority of people. This is why being creative, whether it be in music, art, drama, literature, etc. allows you to escape the confinements of these structures, and you lay a path for others to follow.
It is also really enlightening to know there is something more than what we have been offered, as for us, creating and playing music is like a part of who we are as individuals that has been enhanced by playing together in a band.
We are all great friends and help and talk to each other about our issues and problems, and always attempt to help and solve them. We always make the most of every opportunity, and attempt to make a positive impact on everything we do.
The band have supported such outfits as Rise Against, Blood Youth, and Fizzy Blood. How were they all as experiences?
Every experience we have been through has been incredible, and we are always learning from our peers and contemporaries in music. Rise Against was an unbelievable show, where we were flown out to Quebec City to play a festival they were headlining, and standing side stage and watching them perform was very inspiring and we were thankful for the opportunity given to us.
Playing with bands like Blood Youth, Fizzy Blood, Max Raptor, Young Legionnaire, and Press to MECO has been great, as it has allowed us to meet and gain valuable advice from bands who we look up to on the scene we are now a part of.
Like I said above, we make the most of every opportunity that we are given, as we know it gives us experience, and a chance to gain advice from other bands.
And how is it overall, for everyone in Brightlight City, performing live?
Performing live is something we love, I know that on stage we all put on an energetic, passion-fuelled performance. Off-stage (or just before we go on), we have a number of rituals that we all follow.
We tend to help each other through the nerves (yes, we still get nervous because we care about what we do, and sometimes when you’re on stage, you are at your most vulnerable, but also most open) by talking about films or TV shows we have been watching, books or new stories we have read, and most of the time, we have some fantastic and ridiculous conversations on various subjects.
All this helps to get us focused on putting on the best show we can, as we always live by the adage “play every show like it’s your last“.
What are the band’s plans following the new album coming out?
We have been playing live loads since February, so we will continue playing as much as we can to promote the album. We will also be looking at securing slots on various festivals and support slots on some tours, and in any spare time that we will have, we will also be finishing off new songs for either a future EP release or album two.
We also run our own label (Undead Collective Records) and will be working with the amazing bands we have on our roster on their releases, if you take anything from this article, 1. pre-order / buy our album, and 2. check out the following bands: Loose Tooth, Best Of Enemies, Merrick’s Tusk, and Seasonal.
We are also on the lookout for any music that fits within the alt-rock genre, so have a listen to the bands above, and if you think you would like to submit anything, then get in contact with us.
And lastly, what is your long-term aim?
Our long-term aim is to keep writing, playing, and releasing music. Like I said, we have already written six new songs, which are an even bigger step up from our forthcoming debut album, so we are really excited to see how they turn out.
Alongside that, we also want to support the music scene by building our label into the most popular independent alternative label in the UK. Watch this space, it will happen.
‘THE HARMONY & THE CHAOS’, THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM BRIGHTLIGHT CITY, WILL BE RELEASED ON MAY 17 VIA UNDEAD COLLECTIVE RECORDS.
FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: