Joe Mirasole: drummer, studio engineer, non-practicing Capricorn, really nice guy
Another part of that song I quoted earlier, “Sweet Madelene,” makes a point about Southern progress, something that Austin—where y’all are from—has done a good job with, especially for music. Birmingham is starting to climb that ladder.
[Jack] Definitely, yeah.
What advice would you give to a city like ours who is following in the wake of a city like Austin?
[Edward] Don’t vote for Trump.
Well, clearly. But besides that.
[Curtis] A side question—in the state of Alabama, is Birmingham a blue city, or is it a conservative city, in terms of local government?
It depends on where you are. It’s tricky. The city of Birmingham, as citizens, leans more to the left. But our representation in the state is all red.
[Curtis] It seems with its background, its post-industrial background, you probably have all of these vestiges of worker politics. It’s obviously a very multiracial city, with an interesting past with the Civil Rights movement. It seems like there would be a more progressive culture here than maybe some parts of the south.
We’re trying, yeah. But it’s all about who votes.
[Curtis] Everyone should. It’s kind of annoying. I feel like it’s irresponsible not to. It’s treated as a choice, but I feel like we should culturally shame people who don’t vote, at least a little bit. Just rip em, ya know.
[Jack] Or just make it easier. Make it a tweet. You just send a tweet out—who you want to vote for, and it’s done. But as far as Birmingham and it’s growth–Austin’s rough because it’s been this amazing place with a lot of young, creative people who have moved there, and also a lot of entrepreneurs, with the tech industry there. We all grew up in the area, so we’ve seen it change crazily. There’s a lot of businesses, big hotels—it starts to look like Dallas or something. I don’t know that there’s much you can do about that.
[Curtis] Zoning laws. That’s the one thing. That’s the one thing that everyone ignores in major cities. But it makes the difference. New York and San Francisco are different because of zoning laws.
[Jack] That’s true. And yeah, areas. Areas for the arts, areas for–it’s hard, because you’ve got big condos and big hotels going up in Austin, where ten years ago it was the shitty part of town.
[Curtis] And everyone’s trying to preserve their neighborhood. Like, Oh, don’t build any extra housing or crazy shit in my neighborhood. So then it becomes an issue of short supply. Only the rich people can buy houses when they’re in short supply.
That’s absolutely happening here.
[Jack] Yeah, and you’re probably seeing rent prices climb.
[Curtis] We’re so precious about our neighborhoods and stuff that we won’t build housing, to house all these people that want to come to our city. Which, we should welcome them.
[Jack] You have to understand, if the city’s going to grow, and become something cool, you’ll get a lot of things that come with it that are not as cool. That’s just part of it. People shouldn’t get angry about that. Just embrace it. We’re gonna have big business, we’re gonna have a lot of tourists and stuff. And that’s good, ultimately for everyone.
[Curtis] Locals kind of have it all wrong. They think, “Aw, outsiders are ruining my city. Let’s keep outsiders from coming in,” instead of finding places and infrastructure to put outsiders to make your city more diverse and fun.
Curtis Roush: Locals have it all wrong. They think, “Aw, outsiders are ruining my city. Let’s keep outsiders from coming in,” instead of finding places and infrastructure to put outsiders to make your city more diverse and fun.
Amen. I couldn’t agree more. So, you said you’re in the studio…working on a new album?
[Joe] Yes. There’s a lot of the music we’re writing and continuing to write. We just finished wrapping up…can we talk about it?
[Curtis] We’ve never been told not to talk about.
[Jack] We’re our own bosses! Talk about it!
[Joe] Oh yeah! Cool. We just finished wrapping up a three-song EP that we wrote with another artist from Austin called Israel Nash. It’s about to get mastered this week, actually. We’re gonna put it out in a few months.
[Edward] Joe did all the mixing.
[Joe] We recorded it at our studio, and Israel Nash has a studio out in the Hill Country, that they built out of this crazy…
[Jack] Quonset hut.
[Joe] What is it?
[Jack] Quon-set hut.
[Joe] Yeah, quonset hut. It’s like a really big halfpipe of metal, and then you build a building around it. It looks like a military hanger. It’s a really cool spot they have. It’s 40 minutes from our place, so we did half of it at ours, half at theirs, and we mixed it at our studio. If you’ve never heard of Israel Nash, check him out. He’s like Neil Young, but if Neil Young was way bigger and more of a teddy bear of a man.
[Jack] And did a lot more acid.
Jack O’Brien: “We’re our own bosses!”
I can’t wait to hear it! Thanks for your time today. Who was winning at ping pong back there [in the artist lounge]?
[Joe] Curt’s kind of dominating, but we’re gonna try and actually play a game now. Curt’s apparently a Forest Gump-style ping pong champ.
Alabama’s the right place for that. Are y’all gonna be hanging out the rest of the day?
[Jack] Yeah, the afterparty. Those guys are our super-homies, so we will be hanging with them.
Well then, I’ll see y’all later tonight!
And what a glorious Spaceface show it was. Thanks again to The Bright Light Social Hour for being so easy to talk to. Oh, and Israel Nash: bring it.