For whatever reason, guitarist/vocalist Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups feels compelled to tell the truth regarding the origin of his bands name. Instead of drumming up some far fetched, drawn out explanation, he decides honesty is the best policy. “Usually I don’t like to say, but you caught me on a very honest day,” Aubert admits. “Sometimes I don’t like to say because everyone comes up with some really fucking insane…someone said it was a reference to like spaghetti westerns, and I was like ‘oh yeah.’ And sometimes people kind of hear it differently and they think we are referencing Silvertone Guitars…we get all kinds of stuff. There was one guy who told me we were referencing the apocalypse. And I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was a liquor store.”
The liquor store in question is Silversun Liquors, right around the corner from where the band once lived on Sunset and Silverlake Blvd. But while the origin of the bands name may have left more than a few puzzled, there is nothing perplexing about the bands current ascension to the top of the indie rock scene. Silversun Pickups are the latest band du jour from Silver Lake, an area of Los Angeles that seems to consistently produce an eclectic mix of bands that prefer to push the envelope as opposed to going with the norm. The bands fuzzed out, droning sound harkens back to early 90s alternative rock and bands like Hum and Smashing Pumpkins, as well as the Shoegaze scene out of England. However, when people talk about the Silversun Pickups sound, there are a couple of common and familiar reference points. “The newest one [reference] has been Smashing Pumpkins,” explains Aubert. “Before that one was My Bloody Valentine. Before that, when we were on the smaller scale, the more indie you are the more knowledge people have about bands. So people kind of pull out Ride and all these great bands, or Built To Spill. Just a bigger group to pull from. But it seems like the bigger you get; radio and stuff like that, the pool becomes much smaller. So right now its pretty much Smashing Pumpkins.”
As far as the bands influences go, Aubert says that he and the rest of his band mates; Nikki Monninger (bass), Christopher Guanlao (drums) and Joe Lester (keyboards) are all over the board. “Everyone likes so much stuff. It’s almost like you are influenced by what you don’t like,” Aubert says. “Most of the stuff we listen to…we listen to tons of obviously My Bloody Valentine, things like that as far as guitar textures. We love big warm guitar textures. You can really love that without loving Valentine. It’s not like you are specifically saying I want to write a Valentines song, you do something the way you like it and its obviously like wow. Like Sonic Youth and all those bands, they’ve paved so much of the way for bands like us to not sound weird. People think we are bizarre already which I find strange. I mean, I understand it, but what a sad time for music if we are weird.”
Silversun Pickups debut full length Carnavas was released in July of 06’. Slowly, the band has built a steady and ever growing following. From playing locally, to the CMJ Convention in New York City, to gaining early admiration from online stations like KEXP.org and WOXY.com, things are starting to get interesting for the band.
“Um, I think it been, it’s bigger than we expected, you know what I mean,” states Aubert. “Its one of those things. We had the EP before (Pikul); people sort of knew us, kind of underground stuff. And then that kind of built up a bit. And then the record. I think that was the idea really. No ones really going to buy…luckily we are working with people and a label that loves music and actually likes to develop a band. It’s like if we were on a Warner Bros. or some major label when our album came out they would release it and go ‘oh it didn’t sell.’ Our label is actually smart. They are like ‘hey, who is going to buy a record from a band no one has heard of?’ And so yeah it’s been just rolling along. Honestly, it’s gotten way bigger than we ever thought.”
– Jonathan Cholewa