Charleston’s roots-gospel rock collective Stop Light Observations (SLO) has been an ever-evolving project since their middle school days, but their 2013 album Radiation is what put them on the map. Comprised of Will Blackburn, John-Keith Culbreth (Cubby), Louis Duffie, and Luke Withers, the band is prepping to release their new album Toogoodoo on August 26th, and we’ve got both their latest single “Security” – a light, staccato take on the emotion of happiness and what it means to achieve happiness – as well as an exclusive interview with songwriter/piano/synth/vocals extraordinaire Cubby.
How would you describe your band in one word? Explain.
I said this word because we are brothers that have played together since the days where worries didn’t exist and we always give each other a chance in our creativity while holding each other at a high standard, both musically and spiritually. We never say “no”, yet never say “yes”. We love each other deeply and like any true relationship, we fight and get hurt then make up and do it again. Very grateful to have these good people around me.
Tell me about your latest record, “Toogoodoo”.
We wanted to make something extraordinary and honest. That is why we decided we wanted live track our second album, and to perform it in an environment that would exude who we are at our core. When it came time to decide where that location would be, the answer came naturally. Will had been talking about recording an album at this 18th century haunted plantation ever since we were 17 years old. “Toogoodoo Bluff” was a childhood getaway located on the Toogoodoo River in Younges Island, SC where we grew up together. Whether it was swimming in the river, canoeing through the Gullah land sweet grass marshes, or conjuring up a midnight conversation with the ghosts, the band and our friends would go out to Toogoodoo Bluff every chance we could get. It is where we wrote our first song when we were 13 years old, and it is where the band has blossomed some of our fondest memories. After spending two years crafting our sound and patiently waiting for the right setlist of songs, we were ecstatic to finally build our dream studio and record our second album at Toogoodoo Bluff. There was a magnificent magic in the air when we arrived, and when it was all over our expectations were exceeded.
You call your music “middle class blues.” Can you explain that?
In the 1930’s the blues sang the emotional pains of the poor common man’s longing for happiness during a time of a starving culture that he and his community loathed in. Our album ironically sings the emotional pains of the privileged common man’s longing for happiness during a time of a exorbitant cult.
Who is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Definitely the short lived Disco Ballad duo “Supre Greek.” Something about the way Rick James and Barbra Streisand harmonize together in the prophetic poetry and moving beats just make me doodle bug magokey.
Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?
In a giant purple castle outside Pittsburg with a giant gate made a miniature Donald Trump statues that are painted with the finest Chinese glitter. My neighbors will be born again Buddhists who dress in mid Gregorian era tank tops that crave sharing their slightly burnt vegan crabby patties on brioche buns filled with expensive mustards that where given as Easter gifts. They will invite their friends, and I too will do the same, and together we can have psychedelic oyster roasts as we sing old rag time tunes and gaze into the chocolate stars in my gorgeous purple castle….can’t fuckn wait.
If you were a season, what season would you be and why?
Probably Sprinter…is the seasons of 2067 when the world is as hot as a ham and broccoli lean pocket put in the microwave for 2 min and eleven seconds and there are no more winters and only a long drawn out spring. The reason I am Sprinter is probably because I am left handed.
What’s up next for Stop Light Observations?
With all hope a great album release that can connect, summer festivals, and we just started recording our third album. To infinity and beyond.