MusicA break in the storyline
with Against Me!, the Henry Clay People
8 p.m. Tuesday, June 15
Hard Rock Live,
After nearly a decade of existence and many years of grinding out shows around their home base of Los Angeles, indie rockers Silversun Pickups caused a fair amount of snickering when they were nominated for a Grammy this year – four years after the release of their debut album – in the Best New Artist category. Having spent the last few years opening for major acts like Snow Patrol and Wolfmother and hearing their fuzzed-out, reliably melodic tunes grace everything from TV shows to video games, the recognition was nice, but it was really only good for a particularly cool day of checking the mail.
“You get a medal for getting a Grammy nomination, and I just got it in the mail a few days ago,” laughs Silversun Pickups co-vocalist and bassist Nikki Monninger.
For the four-piece band, however, the true reward for its hard work is the same as anyone else’s: vacations. Only a few weeks prior to this week’s Orlando kickoff of a national summer tour, the group convened in Stresa, Italy, for the scenic wedding of Silversun frontman Brian Aubert.
“It was really nice. I was just there for a couple days, but it’s a beautiful town. It was a gorgeous day, and we’re all very happy for Brian,” says Monninger. “It was a beautiful city, kind of lost in time. It was nice to be all back together again because we hadn’t seen each other in about a month.” Monninger says Aubert and his bride-to-be spent a lot of time in Iceland and Budapest as well and that they’re all ready to get back to work.
Monninger insists, however, that Silversun Pickups are not ready to think about following up their previous two albums, 2006’s Carnavas and last year’s Swoon. Their debut, featuring singles “Lazy Eye” and “Little Lover’s So Polite,” which was accompanied by a video directed by Joaquin Phoenix, served as an introductory course on Silversun. With its sometimes dreamy, other times spastic retro take on West Coast grunge – especially Smashing Pumpkins – the album felt light and free-flowing. With Swoon, however, the band has dialed up the paranoia and tempo-driven panic, raising the stakes in a way not unlike a work of fiction’s middle act. Songs like “The Royal We” and “Substitution” (the video for which features models playing a fierce game of musical chairs in front of the band performing live) explore the darker shadows of Aubert’s voice, ratcheting it up from slightly feminine to a growling, stalking whisper.
“We were definitely thinking along cinematic lines, especially when we added the strings,” says Monninger of Swoon. “I think we were just in a more chaotic state and that’s just what came out. We hadn’t really been settled for very long [before writing the songs, having been on the road for years]. So it’s just the adjustment of coming home after being gone for so long.”
Now, facing more touring after a series of big moments in their personal and professional lives, Monninger is nonetheless anxious to play.
“We haven’t thought too much into the future,” says Monninger. “We let things happen organically. I think that’s how we’ve grown as a band. I don’t know. It’s too soon to think of a third act yet.”