Friday, April 02, 2010

The Secret Identity of Silversun Pickups

I generally only post full interviews here if I've talked to a band I really like or have had a really good chat. I got both with Silversun Pickups.

If for some reason you haven't yet checked out this band, you're missing out.

Here are some places to start.

Lazy Eye
Panic Switch

Silversun Pickups
April 5, 2010
E Center

It would seem that attending your first Grammy Awards ceremony would be accompanied by any number of highlights -- mingling with celebrities, hanging out with great musicians or, you know, being recognized as one of the best band's in the world. Nah. For Silversun Pickups' singer and guitarist Brian Aubert, the best part of the evening was assuming a false identity at an afterparty and talking to Daft Punk about "Tron."

"The Grammys weren't even something we were romantic about," Aubert says. "I don't mean that in a snarky way, I just mean that it wasn't even on our radar." And the band certainly wasn't ready for the barrage of ridiculous interviews that came with it. "I think I was asked who my favorite Hollywood crush was." Though it was a tough call, Aubert chose Tina Fey.

"[The Grammys] were getting a little boring, but the Kings of Leon had a very wonderful afterparty that actually saved the entire night," Aubert sayss. "Daft Punk was there and I got to talk to them for a half hour. I realized halfway through that the reason they were talking to me for so long is that they thought I was Caleb from Kings of Leon."

He admits that he didn't do anything to correct their misconception. "[Instead], I talked to them about 'Tron' as much as I could," he says with a laugh. After continuous questions about the remake of the classic '80s sci-fi film, one half of the French electronic duo finally said, "You know we're not responsible for the movie. We're just responsible for the music, so I don't want you to be mad at us if the movie stinks." Aubert told them he was well aware of that fact and just kept asking questions.

"Finally, after a half an hour they asked me a question that only Caleb could answer. I kind of did the French exit and left." There's clearly no shame in Aubert's game.

In a way, The Grammys summed up in one night what Silversun Pickups have experiencing for the past three years. Despite having no aspirations beyond playing the music that they love, the L.A. four piece has garnered a whirlwind of critical acclaim and commercial success with their two full-length albums.

"We never thought we'd ever be on the radio," Aubert says. "So when things started getting on the radio for [our debut album] 'Carnavas,' we thought it was a fluke." The band thought the attention would quickly die off but their second album, "Swoon," has made an even bigger splash. (Their first single "Panic Switch" reached the top spot in Billboard's Alternative Songs category.)

"When bands ask for us advice about how to get on the radio we just don't have it," Aubert says, baffled. "The only advice is to think you're never going to do it."

"Swoon" is very much the anti-radio record. The songs are long, winding and filled with tension. The dark, shoegaze-y melodies are better suited for the Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine '90s than the Miley Cyrus 2000s. The record demands repeated listens and gets better with each one.

"The making of the record was such an intense period. From beginning to end, it took us about a year. We just racked our brains and scraped every metaphor until there were no more metaphors left," Aubert says of the Swoon sessions. "We didn't even think it was going to get done at one point -- it seemed like such a mountain. And then right when it was finished, it went to radio right away. Once that happened, it became a roller coaster. It's just been so fast, such a whirlwind. It's been amazing. We've been amazed that things have continued on so well and things have only gotten crazier."

The craziness has included worldwide touring, ranging from intimate club settings to massive arena rock ventures like their current outing with Muse. "Of course we really love doing our own shows where we can get into all the different dynamics of the records, but we also like opening shows like these because it's a whole other experience. It keeps us fresh because we're just part of this big circus. You don't think of it as trying to prove yourself. You just think, 'There are 18,000 people here, one of them's going to like us.'"

Despite the nonstop touring, the band is still enjoying the moment. "I think we're still having a love affair with 'Swoon.' In a weird way, it's still very new to us," Aubert says. When that newness wears off and the band begins to feel that they need to reinvent the record on stage, that's when they know it's time to start working on a new record. "That hasn't happened yet. When that happens, you shut down and go home for a while and live for a bit. When you have the chance to actually listen to yourself, when things are quiet and kind of mundane and normal, that's when your brain starts to speak. But here, it's hard to hear yourself." And then he adds, with another laugh, "There are a lot big amps."

1 comment:

Cheeseboy said...

Very cool.

BTW, I kid you not, the word varification for this post is "fairies".