L.A. Story

Silversun Pickups talk about their new record, new tour and the origin of their name

The four-piece indie rock outfit Silversun Pickups hail from the funky, artsy neighborhood of Silver Lake in Los Angeles. But during this interview they are in Detroit waiting for sound-check. It’s just another stop on a tour in support of their sophomore effort, Swoon, which will also bring them through Las Vegas to play The Joint at the Hard Rock on July 16. The band blew up the modern-rock charts after the release of their debut album, Carnavas, in 2006 and they have been touring ever since. Silversun keyboard player Joe Lester took a moment out of the tour to catch up with Vegas Seven.

What track on Swoon do you love to play live?

My favorite song to play live is “Growing Old Is Getting Old,” which is usually the first song we play. It is the one song that encapsulates the breadth of all the dynamics and everything on the record. It starts out slow and it’s got a really cool movement and there is a really nice key change that I like. It goes from soft to loud and builds in a nice way.

Artist Darren Waterston did the artwork on both Carnavas and Swoon. Why him?

It took us almost as long to make the record as to try and figure out what to do with the artwork. Nothing was doing anything for us, and then at our old rehearsal space, Brian [Aubert] found this art magazine that had his paintings in it. We reached out to him … sent him the record and he ended up being super into it. He sent us all these amazing images to use and as soon as we got this pile of art we were like, “OK, this is it.” When the next record came around, we asked him again. It makes the two album covers make sense together, but they are totally their own thing, which is great.

How did you guys get hooked up with Dave Cooley as a producer?

The guy who owns our record label [Dangerbird Records] is from Milwaukee originally and years ago he managed Cooley’s old band, so when we first signed to Dangerbird, he was just one of the suggestions. We talked to him and just hit it off. We developed a really good working relationship with him. It’s a very productive back and forth, and we’ve had lots of good fights with him. He is always doing it for the right reasons, and he wants you to justify in your own mind why something should sound the way it does.

What was it like to tour with Muse?

Opening for big bands is always interesting because you get to see what that world is like. They’ve [Muse] got a massive stage setup and they put on a really crazy show, so that was definitely fun. They were really nice guys, and we had a really good time. You never really know how it’s going down. They [the fans] could just be like. “Get the fuck off the stage, we wanna see Muse,” but for the most part it seemed really good and it was a really positive experience.

Are you guys working on any new material?

We don’t really have any new material at this point. We are not one of those bands who can write on the road. There are inklings of ideas, but those could all completely disappear by the time we are done with touring and start working on a new record.

What music are you listening to right now?

We all have a core of bands that we all really like, but then everybody’s takes sort of diverge pretty wildly from there. I have been into weird electronic stuff lately, like Fever Ray and Four Tet, but that’s just me. Everybody in the band still listens to the standards like Wilco and Radiohead.

Did your band get its name from Silversun liquor store in Silver Lake?

Brian [Aubert] used to live right above that liquor store. It’s not specifically about the liquor store, but it’s an homage to the idea of the neighborhood.

Mikey Francis is a member of the band Afghan Raiders, and they will be performing Aug. 7 at the HARD Summer Music Festival in downtown Los Angeles.

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