by Courtney Devores on March 5, 2020
[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.]
On a morning in late February, Silversun Pickups' frontman Brian Aubert is enjoying a break in his band's tour schedule. He's already walked his 4-year-old son to school and is fresh from a yoga class.
But that break will be over soon: Next week the band is back on the road in support of its fifth album, "Widow's Weeds." The tour stops at The Fillmore on Monday.
"Widow's Weeds" marks a period of personal change for the band—Aubert got sober and keyboardist Joe Lester lost his father. But it also solidified its relationship with renowned producer and Garbage drummer Butch Vig.
"He is just kind of a genius," Aubert says. "We've known him for a while, but now we know him very, very well. He is so Wisconsin. Pub cheese. Hog night. Talking about weird serial killings that happened there."
While they'd clicked before, with Aubert contributing vocals to the Garbage track "The Chemicals," now his band's on the guest list when Vig takes his friends Christmas caroling.
"He produces the Christmas carols," Aubert says, recalling Vig's instructions: "‘Do Five Days of Christmas, because 12 is just too much.'"
Vig reveled in unraveling the band's ideas in the studio.
"Our choruses are accidental," Aubert says. "We never name anything. We have ideas, but have to structure them. Any time we'd get lost and baffled, you could see his brain getting tickled."
Because of Garbage's touring commitments, "Widow's Weeds" was recording in two separate sessions. The time off allowed Aubert to address his growing depression through recovery. Yet he doesn't consider the album to have a distinct before and after.
"If I looked really hard, I could connect those dots," he says. "I can kind of hear or feel, Here's the downward spiral I didn't know about (at the time). Here is the coming out of something, a sense of relief I wouldn't have imagined, because it didn't connect with me that that's what was going on."
"Widow's Weeds" relies more heavily on strings, which amplifies the band's tendency toward the cinematic.
"When we describe how we want to sound to each other, we describe it visually," Aubert explains. "This sounds like something from a hallway, or this is where the lights come on. We knew we were going to put strings in from the get-go, so it's probably more heightened—like a score to something that never existed.
"Then I play guitar and sing and I ruin it," he says, with a laugh.
While "Widow's Weeds" hasn't performed on the charts as well as its predecessors, and reviews upon release were mixed, Aubert says as long as they feel like they've pushed themselves creatively, they're satisfied.
"Every time we make a record and it's done, if we feel that we can look back on it and say we went for it, then we're happy," he says. "It would bum us out if we looked back and we just kind of phoned it in. If we didn't really try, that would be crushing."
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