by Chad Grischow on August 21, 2006
[Note: this is an interview that's currently still available and this archive is meant only to keep the contents and discussions inside preserved and visible online. Please follow the link in the header and read more from the source if you're interested.]
In case you've been dwelling under a moss encrusted boulder for the past several months, then you might be not be aware of the Los Angeles based musical outfit known as The Silversun Pickups.
Comprised of Brian Aubert (guitar/vox), Nikki Monniger (bass), Christophere Guanlao (drums) and Joe Lester (keyboards), SSPU emerged on the L.A. music scene in 2005. Since then they've kicked out an EP, Pikul, and a full-length, Carnavas.
The intrepid Chad Grischow sat down with Silversun Pickups frontman Brian Aubert and discusses the band's music. Or did he?
IGN Music: What's going on?
Brian Nolan Kalei'ali'i Aubert: Hello. My name is Brian Nolan kalei'ali'i Aubert and this is my interview with IGN, which I am a big fan of. I check ign.com constantly.
IGN Music: Nice! So, to jump right into things, how many different bands were each of you in before finally coming together as Silversun Pickups?
Brian: I had been playing here and there with a number of friends bands, and then settled on one. Christopher was in a band called Crooner. Nikki was also in Crooner and in the bands Let's Go Sailing and Stuck On Doug. Joe was in a band called Pine Marten. We were all in the band Earlimart at one time or another, except Nikki. But she still has time...
IGN Music: So, with no songs really formed yet, and no shows yet played together, what compelled you to send in a tape for something as big as CMJ Music Marathon?
Brian: It was Nikki's idea. She put a boombox in the middle of the practice space, hit record, and there it was. MAGIC. No, definitely not. It contained three "ideas" that stretched over 30 minutes long. It's kinda unlistenable. We made a bio that talked about our cat. But we did have the band name. I didn't even realize that we sent it in because I never thought we'd get in to something like that. But here we are.
IGN Music: From there, things sound like they went very quickly from something you were tinkering around with to a working band playing shows nonstop. What was it like to go from a few friends messing around to an in-demand live band so quickly?
Brian: We never really thought about it. We had no time to think about it. We were just playing all the time. We would accept any offer to play a show because we were just amazed people wanted us to. We loved it and thought it might end at any time. I guess it still could.
IGN Music: When someone first gave you a copy of a live bootleg from a show, I read that Brian did not like what he heard and decided it was time to start recording. What was it about hearing the band live that triggered the need for studio time?
Brian: Well, basically, while we were playing a show in Los Angeles, I saw some guys passing a CD to each other. It was basically a bootleg of one of our shows. It was so horrid sounding, and I was like "Damn, if people want to hear us at home bad enough where they'll listen to this shit, we need to start recording." It's not like we were unaware of the whole "make a CD and sell it" process, we were just still getting our songs together. We were ready at that point to start getting our studio feet wet, and that bootleg just kinda kicked it in. I wish I still had it. Or do I?
IGN Music: I caught your show in Chicago at Schubas on Sunday. Originally slated for The Hideout, the show quickly moved to Schubas for the larger capacity—selling out there too. Have you been surprised by the how quickly your fan base is expanding?
Brian: This whole tour should be called "The SSPU in Constant Surprise" tour. We are so amazed and humbled by the reaction we are getting in the towns we have never stepped foot in. Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Chicago, etc. it's been overwhelming. We're stunned. It's crazy. As holed up as we were making this record, and as hard as we worked on it, it just sank in due to the response at these shows and the enthusiasm of the crowds that people would actually listen to it. So are we surprised? Yes indeed. But the surprised look you'll see on our face ends with a big smile.
IGN Music: When you took the stage in Chicago, you all seemed laid back—and then the music started. I have read that the first few shows had a very ragged sound to them. What was it that made everything click?
Brian: That just eventually happens...hopefully. After playing live for awhile, you just start to gel with each other. Even at the beginning of this tour, we were just getting used to the newer songs, how they'd fit with the older ones, newer gear, etc. but as it moves along, you adapt. In Chicago, we were prepared and felt comfortable with what we were doing...except the encores. Those always throw us off. We never expect those damn things. Cry me a river.
IGN Music: Carnavas really does a better job of capturing the live sound than the Pikul EP did, which you recorded live. How is that?
Brian: Well, to me, a record and a live show are just two different animals. What works with one may not work for the other. Our previous recordings had to get done fast. So we basically documented how we play them live: Put a mic down in front of your amp and go "Poof!", a recording. But just because you're playing with the same intensity as you do live, it just doesn't get captured. We learned through the making of this record that to recreate certain powerful moments, sonically or emotionally, we would need to approach it in a different way. This was our first experience getting to play the studio. We had time to tinker and toy with a lot of different sonic landscapes. It's funny, it took a lot of work to get the record to sound as big as we wanted it to be. Live however, I hit a pedal. Or do I?
IGN Music: At first, Brian has said that he had a hard time getting behind the mic. I never saw any of that at the show the other night. How was the transition to front man?
Brian: It just happened. You get used to it. One day, I was like, "Well, that's how I sound and there's nothing I can do about it." It must've been so frustrating to see us play back then. I would barely go to the mic. Now I'm a complete narcissist. I bring a mic with me everywhere I go. I refuse to speak to anyone if it's not though a mic. The people at the drive thrus hate it. Totally.
IGN Music: I read that SSPU is part of a collective called The Ship in Los Angeles. How would you describe it, and who else is part of it?
Brian: The Ship Collective is the affectionate name for a group of friends who have known each other for a while now. bands include: Earlimart, Great Northern, Let's Go Sailing, Radar Brothers, Irving, Tigers Can Bite You, Twilight Sleep, The Movies, 400 Blows, Pine Marten, Devics, Midnight Movies, Darker My Love, Sea Wolf, Panty Lions, Patrick Park, and a partridge in a pear tree. As you can see, it's quite big.
IGN Music: Dangerbird Records really has an amazing roster of talent right now, with yourselves, La Rocca, Peter Walker, and the rest. What made you choose Dangerbird?
Brian: We met with a plethora-o-labels, and we were frightened. Big labels saw us as some sort of putty, which they could possibly mold into a one hit wonder musical missile...or never release the record at all. Indie labels seemed to learn from the majors in the let's not give the band a cent of anything kind of way. Dangerbird is new, hungry, run by like two people, and get this...they like music. Crazy. We are happy. Or are we?
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