I got to sit down and have dinner with John-Keith Culbreth (Songwriter, Piano, Synth, Vocals) and Will Blackburn (Lead Vocals) of the band Stop Light Observations. We met up at hot Italian restaurant in Charleston, SC, Indaco to discuss their new single “Helicopters”. The single is available for free download on their website and also has a great music video.
Here are some highlights of the conversation and meal:
Culbreth: Stop Light Observations (SLO) is 7 people with 7 crazy different musical influences coming together and creating one sound. That sound is evolving every day as our tastes and influences change.
Blackburn: There are obviously some consistencies that make us sound like the same band over time. As we change and as we grow and appreciate different kinds of music I think we have been able to incorporate it very naturally instead of feeling brash like we are changing our sound. I think a lot of bands have a hard time dealing with that. We are going to find out what our fans think of our sound and the new single “Helicopters” and I think they are going to like it. We are still working on how to grow and yet stay the same so that we keep the things that our fans enjoy about SLO while being able to create new music.
Charleston Food Bloggers: So what should we expect from your next couple of songs? How did you evolve over the past 2 years since releasing Radiation?
Blackburn: We took what we learned from Radiation, which is that we have a mixed bag of fans. We have younger crowd that likes our pop undertones, which is great, but we also have an older group of fans that like our Beatles/Zeppelin sound that we work with all the time. So on Helicopters we blend both of those things. I sing in a classic 40s style for the whole first verse then in the second I breakout into a more soul 60s-70s era vibe. The music it has more of a current beat….like a right now kind of sound.
Culbreth: A tomorrow sound maybe….
Blackburn: I have let some people close to me listen to the new songs and I want them to tell me how it feels. I know we are onto something when they can’t describe it. If they say, “It sounds like so-and-so” then we are not being honest enough with the song. If they say, “I don’t know what that is but it’s cool” then I know we could be onto something fantastic. We like to release the next song after Helicopters in 30-60 days. We are collectively choosing our favorite songs to release….ones that just feel right. We are so excited to start sharing more music with our fans.
Culbreth: We focus on just losing ourselves in things. I lose myself when I’m writing and we lose ourselves on stage. Then when the jam is done during recording or on stage we all just look around at each other and are just like, yes!
Blackburn: There isn’t a lot of planning. We have these ideas and then each one of us brings our different sounds to those ideas. We like to try different things. Things that just feel right and live in the moment. Experimenting with sounds and always mixing it up in new ways that we think feels right is one of the things I love the most about Stop Light Obeservations.
Culbreth: It needs to be real. We just want to become the moment. That is art, that is truth.
Charleston Food Bloggers: So I hear you recorded “Helicopters” in a kitchen.
Culbreth: Yeah, our sound engineer Joey’s kitchen in Charleston. There are just so many people like him that have helped move our band forward. From people recording our songs, filming our videos, photography, and marketing….everything. So many great people out there have contributed to helping us share our vision and sound. I graduate from College of Charleston with a degree in business and my mom and dad we like, “Yeah, son we think you should just do the music thing and go all the way with it”. We have so much support…..support we never could have imagined.
I expect a lot of great things from the guys of Stop Light Observations. Charleston needs an anchor band like this for other area bands to gravitate around and create a new Charleston signature sound.
Indaco is also one of my favorite restaurants in town. They always satisfy my taste buds. This is one of the few times where I had room to eat dessert and it was great too. Take a look at the meal I shared with the band below. Don’t forget to download the new Stop Light Observation single, “Helicopters” and visit Indaco for a delicious dinner. Try it all for yourself!