On September 25, L.A. band Silversun Pickups will release their fourth studio album, Better Nature. Produced at Jacknife Lee’s Topanga studio (he’s worked with the likes of U2 and Two Door Cinema Club), Better Nature will be the first release on the band’s own label, New Machine Recordings. According to lead vocalist and guitarist Brian Aubert, the new full-length is an amalgam of the group’s trademark SoCal vibe, funky sampling, and other “swirly bits.” Here, Aubert tells us what to expect from the group’s latest offering.
Congrats on the new album! How do you think it differs from your previous ones, if it does at all?
We always make a joke that it sounds like us but worse [laughs]. It’s funny, when we release records, people either think it’s so different or it’s very similar, you know? If you followed us from the beginning, it should make sense in some ways. It’s not like we have a desire like, “we have to change.” But your interests and the ways you express yourself change. A lot of times when making a record, you naturally take different turns, because when you feel like you’ve done this already, it’s not a good place. It’s not like we sit there and go, “hey, let’s do this and let’s do that.” It’s too calculative. We want to make ourselves uncomfortable, because comfortable is a very scary word—when it comes to writing, it sounds like we’re doing the same play.
What’s your process?
Usually when we begin writing, we set up a couple ideas of how we want to feel. It’s a way to start. This record started totally different—I almost thought quiet acoustic. But once you begin, you start to organically throw yourself into the music with wherever you’re at at the time, whatever you’re interested in, whatever feels “scary cozy”—I heard somewhere that it feels like bubbles, but sharp [laughs]. That’s really where we like to be.
It’s been three years since your last album. What was up with that wait?
This one was a little bit later due to figuring out a bunch of things and starting our own label and all that jazz. Bu we never feel rushed to do anything because it doesn’t matter. Why does it have to come out? Why? For who? It would be fine if we never did anything again [laughs]. What tends to happen is, our tours go a year to two years, maybe a year and a half on and off. That’s when the break happens, and then there’s a little bit of just living, and then you start writing. Inadvertently it’s got us into this cycle of every three years. If our tour was shorter and we got home and we were done with that record, we would probably come out with it sooner because we’d be excited to be quiet for a month and then you totally get bored and you’re like, “what do I do?” [laughs].
Do you ever write on tour?
No, it’s impossible. It’s just not for us. Touring is where we feel the most comfortable. Making the record is such an interesting, intimate experience, and our goal, if everything goes well, is to ultimately get the chance to keep playing. That’s what we look forward to. Now the switch has happened, and we’ve made the record and gotten all the little details, and now rehearsal starts. It invigorates us in a different way and it excites us, and it’s an interesting circus to be a part of. But it’s not something that inspires us to necessarily be creative.
Being a band born and bred in L.A., does the city influence your writing at all?
Since we’re from L.A., it’s hard to pinpoint what it is that affects our music, but I think it has to because of all of us are basically from here. The biggest effect is that people always ask us, “how come you don’t go record in Europe or on the East coast or somewhere exotic,” and we always think, why? If we don’t do it here, when are we ever going to be here? Part of writing a record tends to happen when we’re settled in familiar places. Usually when we’re writing, we’re not running around Los Angeles trying to be entertained or distracted by anything. Being normal, being able to hear yourself in your brain—that’s when these psychotic episodes come out and turn into songs [laughs]. If we tour, come back, and record somewhere else, it seems like the city that I’m from, that I love—I’d never get to see it. Except in Entourage, which would make me want to vomit [laughs]. I’m like, “that’s not my town!”