Silverlake, California’s dreamy, reverb-laden grunge revivalists, Silversun Pickups, released their third album, Neck of the Woods, on Dangerbird Records on May 8th. Recorded in Topanga Canyon, where frontman Brian Aubert grew up, the new album features an already hit single, “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings).”
Named after a liquor store on the corner of Sunset and Silverlake Blvd, the band had a dual celebration on the release of their album. Nursing hangovers from an exciting taco-slash-dance party at a Silverlake restaurant down the street from that same liquor store, the band still had enough energy to come in this morning and play a sexy five-song set for lucky winner in the Red Bull Sound Space at KROQ.
When the effortlessly witty Aubert was asked how he felt this paramount morning of his album release, Aubert replied, “Hungover.”
“We had a little party last night,” Aubert said with a laugh. “So, we’re going to play the songs really slow. You guys got a couple hours? We’re going to do three songs in seven hours.”
His fellow band (and party) mates Christopher Guanlao, Joe Lester, and Nikki Monninger joined him onstage for a show of Silversun Pickups’ sultry anthemic guitars, spooky lyrics, and stylishly sinister melodies on songs “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings),” “The Pit,” and “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)” from Neck of The Woods. The band also played their two earlier hits, “Panic Switch” and “Lazy Eye.”
After petting Stryker’s hair and joking that touching his head is like “going back in time,” Aubert said that he is “really excited to get this thing out,” telling an audience member that Neck of the Woods came out “a lot better than we thought.”
“We heard it yesterday and usually, when you’re making an album, when you’re listening to it, you’re constantly trying to change it and it starts to sound like ones and zeroes,” elaborated Aubert. “Like the matrix. You know, you don’t hear it anymore. And yesterday, we heard it and thought, ‘That’s not the worst. That’s ok.’”
Stryker asked Aubert how it feels to let go of an album when so much hard work is put into it and Aubert said it feels “good.”
“I think you’re so fed up with it at that point. I think you could work on it forever and you need someone to take it out of your hands,” said Aubert. “If you keep cradling it like your mom did you, you would never be finished and somebody just breaks down the door and says, ‘Enough.’ Smacks you on the face with a newspaper, probably because you peed. And grabs it and puts it out.”
Neck of the Woods has already jumped to the top of the iTunes charts at number tw0 and Paste declared the album “the best mainstream rock album of the year.” This is a far cry from the band’s first show, which was twelve years ago in Williamsburg, New York at the CMJ Music Festival.
“Our first show ever was in New York, in Williamsburg,” recalled Aubert. “We didn’t really know what we were doing. It was 2000. Let me paint a picture. Lord of the Rings hasn’t come out yet. What’s this Harry Potter stuff I’m hearing about? And Nikki sent a tape to CMJ that was just a boom box and it was like a 40-minute version of ‘Lazy Eye’ that was like [plays example] and every once in a while you’d hear [does bad vocals] and we got into CMJ.”
“And we were like, ‘Oh, crap. What are we going to do?’ And we just wanted to see bands so we flew to New York and we played this awful show,” continued Aubert. “I don’t even remember it. We were like, ‘Well, at least no one will be there’ and all of our friends came. I think we played four songs.”
“Our friend said we needed to work on our levels,” interjected Monninger. “And I said, ‘What’s that?’”
Now Silversun Pickups has an entire team of people to check their “levels.” Likewise Aubert is past his teenage experiences having “Valley” wars between the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley. After an audience member name-checked her neighborhood as Simi Valley, the frontman began to joke around with her, saying how he went there as a teenager and was told by someone in a store that he wasn’t from “around there.”
Quipping a bit on a Simi Valley Super Target that sells beer, Aubert said that if the Target didn’t tell Neck of the Woods in the store, he’d stand outside and sell it.
After years working their way up in the music business, although probably not selling their album outside of Super Targets, the band didn’t hesitate to tell an audience member some of the bands they are currently listening to including the new Shins, Azaelia Banks, Band of Skulls, Joy Formidable, and Gary Clark Jr. Aubert said he loves to listen to The Knife and, of course, the Beastie Boys.
Stryker asked how the Silversun Pickups felt about the Beastie Boys and the tragic passing of Adam Yauch a/k/a MCA. Aubert said that if someone says they don’t like the Beastie Boys they are “lying.”
“Well, it’s horrible really and it affects everybody because the Beastie Boys are mighty and it’s sad to think that something can take them down,” elaborated Aubert.”You know, I think it just makes you realize, ”Wow.’”
“Because they’re current; they’re not like a past thing and I think people get a little callous about when people pass away and they start listening to their albums again,” continued Aubert. “No one’s not listening to the Beastie Boys, right? And that’s that. It’s horrible. I think it makes you realize who the enemy really is.”
–Nadia Noir, CBS Radio Los Angeles