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Fourteen years after their debut album release, L.A.-based rockers Silversun Pickups have become known for lead singer Brian Aubert's voice (the term "androgynous" is often thrown out) and frequent sonic comparisons to the Smashing Pumpkins (a reference perhaps lost on many modern alt-rock listeners). Whatever the description, Silversun Pickups have continued to grow their fanbase through their guitar-heavy, jam-bandesque sounds in a digitally dominated music world.
"Being around as a band for a certain amount of time, you realize that music goes in cycles," said keyboardist Joe Lester. "We've managed to try and focus on who we are and exist in our own little bubble."
After three album releases and radio hits such as "Lazy Eye" and "Panic Switch," Silversun Pickups opted to form their own record label for the recording and release of their September 2015 album, "Better Nature."
Since the release, the band has been seen performing on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," at venues around the U.S. and on Saturday, will headline the Timpanogos Music Festival at Utah Valley University in Orem. The daylong festival includes more than 20 bands, with Zella Day, The Moth & The Flame and Grizfolk also on the lineup.
Lester who cited eating at Red Iguana as one of the band's favorite things about playing in Utah talked to The Tribune about going independent, staying in the present and being Silversun Pickups.
In looking at the modern music landscape as it stands, we didn't see a point in signing with another label. Record sales are not what they used to be. Most labels now, when you sign a deal with them, you sort of sign away a cut of your merchandise, publishing, everything. It didn't make any sense to us. It made a lot more sense to pay to make the record ourselves and have direct control over everything we did. It was kind of a no-brainer. Unless you're Beyoncé or something, it's not like there's labels clamoring to give you a bunch of money upfront to sign a record deal with them anyway. We're not starting a label we don't want to put out other bands. This is simply just a way for us to put out our records. We had a couple people ask if they could send us demos and we were like, "You don't want us running your label." We have people helping put our stuff out. We would be terrible A&R people.
Being present on "Better Nature"
We recorded the last record at Jackknife's [music producer Jackknife Lee (Weezer, U2, The Hives)], which is located in Topanga Canyon, which is sort of a hippie commune area, west of where we live. Brian grew up 10 blocks from there. I think, whether consciously or not, driving up this mountain road to [Jackknife's] house, and driving past these things that he had seen and places where he lived and hung out and everything, the last record sort of fixated with the past and memory, both good and bad trauma of the past and reconciling. I think because of that, he sort of reset what he was thinking. This record is very much about living in the present and not thinking about the past or future. Just trying to occupy yourself in the present and seeing the world clearly. It's about being present. I think that informed this record in a way much more explicitly than other records in the past.
Here and now
It's hard [to live in the present]. It takes a certain amount of time. As a band, when people spend a lot of time away from home, I think part of it is the realization over the course of years and years of touring and coming home, if you're not in the present when you're home with your significant other or kids or whatever, it's easy for things to go astray sometimes without you even realizing it. When you're home, you need to be there with the people you are with and try to keep those relationships happy and alive and flourishing.
Circle of music
At the moment, what radio considers "alternative" is geared much more toward the pop realm stuff that a lot of times will quickly transition from alternative to top 40 because it is kind of poppy. That seems to be what people like. We've realized that you can't really chase that stuff. Styles of music come and go or ebb and flow. [We] hopefully float through and keep our identity and not worry about other stuff.
The Silversun Pickups identity
It's like when your friend moves away and you don't see them for a while and they come back and they point out that your hair has gone gray or you've gained a bunch of weight. When you're in it, you don't realize things have changed. As a group, we have matured to the point where we are very comfortable of who we are as a band and with each other. There is an easygoing aspect to who we are in the sense that we are just happy to make the music that we make together. We know that there isn't any other way. Whenever we go into a studio, even if we try out new stuff, deep down it's always going to sound like a Silversun record and we are pretty content with that. [We are] happy that we have gotten to a point where outside stuff doesn't bother us. Are we making the record we know we can make and we want to make and feeling like it's worth making? As long as that's the case, we are going to keep doing it and be proud of it.
Timpanogos Music Festival
Silversun Pickups headline the daylong festival featuring more than 20 bands on three stages, a dance party, food and drink, even morning yoga. Also on the lineup: Zella Day, Grizfolk and The Moth & The Flame.
When • Saturday, Aug. 27, noon; morning yoga at 9
Where • Brent Brown Ballpark, UVU campus, Orem
Tickets • $10.19-$60/$100 premium package; Smith's Tix; more info at http://timpanogosfestival.com