by Audrey (something?) on July 19, 2006
Silversun Pickups is an up-and-coming California four-piece with boy-girl rock vocals. Their 2005 EP, featuring the single "Kissing Families" won them a lot of new fans, including John Richards and the rest of the KEXP crew. Now their full-length is set to be released next Tuesday to much anticipation in the indie rock blogosphere, and rightfully so—it's solid. Seattlest spoke to raspy singer/guitarist Brian Aubert about the differences between the EP and the LP, the comparisions they get to other bands, and their favorite places (and beer) in Seattle. All the girls on the internets think he's dreamy, but as far as we're concerned, Brian's a total Chatty Kathy.
The band's last EP was called Pikul, and the new album is Carnevas. We're not familiar with either of those words. Where did they come from?
Well, they're pretentious. Pikul was a nickname of a friend of ours who passed away, and so that was in homage to him. And then Carnevas is in homage to a side of my family that will soon be extinct—it's their maiden name, it's Greek. So it's another kinda sad homage, but in the same respect, it's another totally pretentious word, so people can make up their own ideas.
You were together as a band for about five years before you really started to record. How did you avoid the pressure that most bands feel to put out something, anything?
We didn't have any sort of mission statement or some grand scheme to be this band, it just kinda happened. We got this show in New York, our first show ever, at CMJ. And we didn't even know how to play, we didn't know what we were doing, but we went just to go hang out in New York. From that, we ended up playing back at home in Los Angeles a lot. We were constantly playing, playing live so much because we enjoyed it, that we were kinda learning how to be a band onstage. It was really great and scary. Eventually time goes by, and we recorded a 7-inch, but we realized we needed to record more...I remember seeing CDs get passed around at a show once, and I was like, "What is that?" and they were like, "It's you." I listened to it and it was a bootleg of a show, and it sounded so unbelievably horrifying that we decided we needed to record. So we made our own EP, put it out ourselves and toured around; then we got signed and put a different EP out; and then we recorded our record. It kinda happened organically in a way.
So how did your experiences differ from recording the EP to recording the full-length?
It was way different. When we signed to Dangerbird, we wanted to put things out pretty fast. We decided to do an EP before the record, [using] some older material we had recorded. The EP is like a hodgepodge. One song was recorded in 2002, one was recorded in 2003, some of it was recorded in 2004, and then we went into the studio for a day or two and recorded three new songs. We had a bunch of songs we performed live, so we [decided to] put these on the EP and saved those for the record. We didn't want any crossover material, so that the record's not the same six songs [from the EP] with four new tracks. I just don't like that at all...
[For] the record, on the other hand, we wanted to go into the studio, just get in there and really work it. Really work on guitar sounds and have a totally different feeling from the EP. It's more put-together and more thought-out, it almost took all that to get it to sound like we do live.
Looking at how other people describe you, there's been some Smashing Pumpkins comparisons, which don't really ring true, except for the whole soft-loud/ugly-pretty thing, and with you both having the initals "S.P."
We never really used to get that comparison until we were out there a little bit more in the popular culture. People are just reaching into the pool of what they like and know.
So then who do you think you sound like? How would you describe your sound?
Bad. No, I don't know really. When I hear our songs, it's still not quite real. So it's hard for me to compare it to other bands. I know what we were doing when we wrote it, and I hear my voice, and I'm like, "Oy, who's that guy? He sounds like a chick."
You've played in Seattle several times in the past year. You've been at the Crocodile, the Paradox, Neumo's, and Chop Suey.
We even played Oktoberfest in Fremont!
Do you have a favorite venue out of all of those?
Neumo's. The Croc is awesome too. But we've played at Neumo's twice, and I think that might be my favorite. It's just the vibe of the people who work there and the people you meet there. The Crocodile's a lot of fun because it's intimate, and generally, that's what I like more, but the camaraderie at Neumo's...it seems like we hang out with a lot of great people there.
You'll be back soon for the Capitol Hill Block Party. You just mentioned Fremont Oktoberfest, but have you played many other outdoor fests, or do you have any other ones coming up this summer?
There's a thing in Brooklyn, a pool party. Here in L.A., there's a big Sunset Junction festival in August, with local bands and big national acts. [Playing outdoors] is fun because it's a whole different animal. We're pretty loud in a club, but when you're playing a show like that, you can't just rely on sonics, which is challenging really.
I remember the Fremont thing being really fun. When we first heard about it, we weren't sure. Oktoberfest sounded like a strange event to play, but man, the Northwest is serious about their beer. We tried so many good beers - it was a total blast! We had our favorite beers, it ended up like a wine-tasting. My favorite beer was a Fremont beer, with the troll on it. That was the best.
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