Lights On was formed in 2008 by several of the busiest musicians in San Diego, all of them involved in multiple projects, including Timothy Hines, Andrew Bernhardt, Brooke Rowland, Robert Netcoh, and Mike Kamoo, who also runs Eartling Recording Studios. Their debut EP Waiting for the Heart to Beat was released in July 2008.
The group was nominated Best Electronic Band at the 2008 San Diego Music Awards and Best Pop Band in 2009. In July 2010, they released their album Here Comes the Ocean.
“The title and record cover were conceived at two different points, but came together conceptually well,” says Timothy Hines. “Sonically, the record has both bright and dark tones about it. But the lyrical content for the most part has a darker undercurrent, topics of apocalypse, death and deception run throughout it. So in effect, the title and the cover art are pretty much literally and visually about a giant tidal wave of destruction looming on the horizon. We are definitely living through some strange times for our generation. Some misfortunes are worse than others, of course, so it all reflects that subliminally, I think.”
Following the release of Here Comes the Ocean, Lights On enjoyed a mini-tour of New York in August, where they landed an interview on East Village Radio. Music blog Brooklyn Vegan gave them some attention, along with Bruce Warren’s WXPN blog and RCRD LBL, a music-download site.
“Blogs have become important outposts for new music,” says Hines. “Labels that are looking for new bands are looking on blogs.” The downside of blogging, he says, is that everybody’s a critic. “Instead of the major music magazines like we had in the past, there’s a million critics online, and everybody has something to say about something.”
The band’s video for “We Live Underground” was picked up by MTV for its Freshman 5 program. “The video’s pretty interesting,” says Hines, who also fronts Tropical Popsicle. “There’s some dark themes in there.”
On the subject of having a video in rotation on MTV while still having to pull down a day job (Hines ran a landscape company until mid-2010), “It’s awesome, but come on,” he laughs, “MTV is not like it used to be. It’s definitely an achievement, but it doesn’t pay the bills.”
In 2011, thier song “I, The Sun” was heard in the TV program American Horror Story, while another song “We Live Underground” was used on MTV’s Death Valley. That tune previously showed up on Gossip Girl.