Interview:: Chris from Silversun Pickups

HH: Hey Chris. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. We’re based out of Vancouver.
C: Oh nice. It’s beautiful up there. We were just there a few months ago. At the Media club. How’s the weather?

HH: Well it’s actually sunny, so I can’t complain. Yeah, it’s too bad. You guys are playing some West Coast dates, but not coming back here. I was hoping ot check you guys out.
C: We are coming back. Sometime in August. Playing Richard’s on Richards, which I’ve heard is the place to play. But it was sunny when we were up there too. Man, when it is clear up there, it is so clear.

HH: (laughs) Oh nice. Yeah, Dick’s on Dicks is much better than the media Club. Yeah, it’s clear, but we also had like 39 days of rain in a row or something ridiculous. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today. I know press day usually means all day on the phone talking answering the same questions over and over.
C: Actually, I thought I was going to be on the phone for two hours, but everything changed, so this is really my only one. It’s a nice break. I have like 4 email interviews to do, so now I can sit on the balcony and have a smoke. I needed to get away from the computer.

HH: The email interviews are never fun.
C: I know. Like they are cool at first, but so many cheesy questions. Like boxers or briefs? I kind of wonder if you really need to know that? Like are we just going to be joking around the whole time?

HH: Dammit. I guess I can drop question one.
C: It’s boxers. Actually it’s none.

HH: So just before we start, the new record is great. I love that we are getting back into some big guitars and pounding drums. The folky finger picking is great, but I realized I need some rock. You guys definitely bring a big sound on this record.
C: Nice. Well thanks man. We are so happy about the record. I don’t know if we did it subconsciously when we started, but we all really wanted a big rock record, so we are so stoked.

HH: Well you did that for sure. I would say you took a different route than most bands. I mean you guys played a lot of shows and got crazy positive reviews for your live shows and the demos. Then the EP and finally a record. Was this done on purpose or did it just happen that way?
C: Well, not really. We were all kind of in other bands for so long, but you know, it’s tough. It’s hard to succeed. I’ve known Brian and Nikki for so many years, and we were like best friends, so when I joined the band and we started playing, it was more just for fun. So we could hang out. We just wanted to play, it was never anything serious. Then in about ’04, we realized , ‘maybe this can be something serious. Maybe we can do something with this.’ Then we kind of got more serious. We were very fortunate. A lot of things just happened for us. Like the minute we decided to get more serious, we got a lawyer. I mean, we didn’t look for one, we just kind of got one. Same with Dangerbird. I mean, we were about to sign with another label, but the contract sketched us out. We didn’t want to sign it, and then Dangerbird came along and gave us a better deal. It just kind of happened.

HH: It’s interesting you mention Dangerbird. I mean, today, everyone says they are a collective. “We’re like Broken Social Scene.” But you guys on Dangerbird, and the Ship collective really seem to tour together and support each other. What’s it like to have a musical family? Is that a good vibe?
C: It’s a great vibe. Especially in LA where there is SO much competition. It really helped us out. I mean we like and respect everyone, and we just kind of decided that we wouldn’t compete against each other. Sort of like a safety-in-numbers thing. But it was great because we had a built in crowd. We knew when we played we’d have the Irving guys, or the Radar Bros or the Earlimart guys. Not just because we want to show support for the band, but because we like and respect each other. We are friends. We’re family. That’s what led us to Dangerbird. I mean, we don’t all sound alike, but we love what we all do. I mean the La Rocca guys. They don’t sound at all like us, but they are great people to hang around with. Plus at the end of the day, it’s chemistry. We know each other so well, that we feed of that when we play. At the end of the day, it’s four of us in a van, hanging out. If we weren’t in a band, we’d be doing the same thing on someone’s porch drinking beer.

HH: I think that’s the way it has to be these days. So, let’s talk about the new record. First off, compared to the EP, we have way more Nikki on vocals, but even crazier to me is some of the sounds that you guys make. I mean, the first time I listened to it, I was like “what the hell is that?” Don’t get me wrong, it totally works, but what is that? Is it a sampler, or keys or what?
C:(laughs) You’d not believe how many times we hear that. A lot of it is Joe. I mean he has some samples and sounds going, but a lot of it is Brian. He’s got a lot of pedals, and he’s the master of each one. So he’s making sounds and Joe is making sounds. It’s confusing. I mean I was there when they were recording it, and I still can’t remember who did what. We always say that Joe is our wild card, because without him, we’d be a pretty straight forward guitar band. It’s funny to hear people ask Joe or Brian, how’d you make that sound, and they will be like, “I didn’t, he did.” Brian with all his delay shit, and Joe playing like two things at once.

HH: Well I’m not going to lie. When I first heard the record at work on my headphones, I was seriously like, ‘what the hell is going on.’ So that’s a good thing. So let me ask you this. You are picked up by Filter, and you are touring with a lot of bands that people on the internet love. Voxtrot, Elefant. How much has the internet helped you guys?
C: Oh man. A LOT. I don’t actually know how bands did it before. The blogging age is incredible. Like Trip Wire charts what people are talking about it and people actually read it and pay attention to it. It’s totally pushed us farther. I mean we haven’t done much Midwest, but we’ve done a lot of West Coast, and for example, Portland is a tough place to make it. If you’re not Sleater-Kinney, you’re going to have a tough show. People just know that. SO we were there with Voxtrot and Elefant and we opened. We just expected it to be tough, especially since we were first, so we just decided to go have fun like we always do. But there were tones of people there. And people were like, oh, I heard you on myspace. So it’s great. Again, we we’re really fortunate. OR like, we played a show in LA, at the Echo and I’m walking in and some guy is like I bought your record on ebay. Our record isn’t even released! SO I’m like, I know there is no cover art with it, so I asked him what the title was, he was lie “TBD”. I was like, “How did you get that?” It’s ridiculous. We are some nothing band. We shouldn’t be on ebay. So I asked him how much he paid for it, he said 10 bucks. So I was like, you owe me 2. (laughs) Then he told me he overpaid, because someone sold it for 2 bucks. It’s insane.

HH: It is crazy. Just last week I was talking to a guy in Beat Radio from NYC. He was like, I’m an unsigned guy from NYC how did you hear about me in Vancouver. But he’s totally cool and his music is great, so it works. So, I have to ask you how you guys worked with two completely different people. I mean, Dave Cooley worked with MadLib and then you have Tony Hoffer who worked with people like Belle and Sebastian and Supergrass. How did that all work out?
C: Well the recording process was pretty easy. We had two main guys, Dave and Tom Billard. But he works with Jon Brion and produced Kanye’s record. I mean, we had to take a day off so he could go to the Grammy’s. It was so crazy. But it’s not bullshit, he knows his shit. He was proactive. Well, is that the right word, maybe just really helpful. The real work was the pre-production. We basically spend three weeks deciding how we wanted to put the sounds together for the record. Playing like 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. We were not used to it. I mean, we were a small indie band that practiced when we had shows. So it was a big change. He knew what we wanted and what he wanted, so it was a lot of push and pull. For me, I was a bit insecure about my drumming, so he’d ask me to do something and I wasn’t sure if I could do what he’s asking me to do. So it was very nerve racking to go into the studio, but in the end it was easy once we got there. But at the same time, it was scary. He had no real rock experience so we were like, are we going to be a hip hop band now? But we wanted bigger, and he gave us bigger and it sounds great. But it was a big leap of faith.

HH: Well it worked for sure. The sound is huge, and it sounds great. So one last question before I let you go enjoy the sun. Listening to your record, you can tell the band is influenced by bands who I’m sure you are sick to death of talking about. So who are some of the bands today that you are really into?
C: We are really into the Secret Machines. I mean they are good people but their sound is huge and really inspired us. It’s so big, and those anthems we missed form the old days. We are also really into what the Fiery Furnaces are doing now.

HH: It’s such an investment listening to that record. So much is going on.
C: Totally. I mean, she sings a lot of those songs. So many words, but it’s really cool.

HH: Well thanks for the time Chris. Was great. I’ll see you when you get up here in August.
C: Take care.

@ 5:33 PM, Charles kicked the following game:

Nice interview. Keep up the great work!


@ 12:22 AM, Ben kicked the following game:

Haha... I'm the "some guy" from the Echo club who bought the Carnavas promo CD on ebay which Chris is referring to in the article! But I'm still buying the real album when it hits the stores on July 25... Carnavas DOES kick some serious ass.


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