Indie Mixtape 20: Silversun Pickups Have Mastered Alt-Rock And Scuba Diving

Before beginning to work on their latest album Physical Thrills, Silversun Pickups had spent the last two years shifting priorities away from music. But when it was time to start the recording process, the LA-based four-piece decided to channel what they needed the most: a friend. “It sits somewhere in between a collection of songs and an imaginary friend,” the band said about Physical Thrills. “A friend that would remind me that in this instance, the whole world was feeling the same way as well. A comforting, playful, sometimes frightened, often delighted friend.”

The resulting project is an uplifting and sprawling 14-track release to offer solace for any mood. With downtempo tracks like the grungy opener “Stillness (Way Beyond),” the wobbly and electrifying “Scared Together,” and the ethereal and wistful “Alone On A Hill,” Physical Thrills is an album that manages to marry early aughts alt-rock with contemporary pop-leaning melodies.

To celebrate the release of their sixth studio album Physical Thrills, guitarist and singer Brian Aubert, bassist Nikki Monninger, drummer Christopher Guanlao, and keyboardist Joe Lester chatted with Uproxx about Prince, The Princess Bride, and scuba diving in our latest Q&A.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Nikki: Steep mountains, valleys and thrills.

It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

Brian: Kindly, I hope.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?

Christopher: Montreal.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

Brian: Wendy Carlos because her music, while avant-garde, still has hummable melodies that you can connect with.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life?

Nikki: Osheaga Festival, Montreal.

What album do you know every word to?

Nikki: Prince’s Purple Rain.

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

Christopher: Supergrass at the Troubadour, standing next to Ewan McGregor, Jude Law, and Danny Boyle.

What is the best outfit for performing and why?

Brian: Anything that doesn’t feel restrictive. It’s always good to stay comfortable.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?

Joe: Twitter: Black Metal Cats (@evilbmcats) Instagram: @CatsOnSynthesizersInSpace.

What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?

Brian: One time we had a CD-R of Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” stuck in our van CD player for a week.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

Joe: The level up path for a Dwarf Paladin in Dungeons & Dragons.

What album makes for the perfect gift?

Christopher: In honor of Olivia Newton John, the soundtrack to Grease.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?

Joe: On the floor of a house where a great dane dog lived. He slept with me all night. I was the little spoon.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

Brian: I just got my first tattoo, it’s a rendition of a drawing by the artist Margaret Kilgallen that is very meaningful to my family.

What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?

Christopher: Temple of the Dog.

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

Nikki: Brian gave me his 9:30 Club coffee mug after mine broke.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

Joe: Do not feel like you need to know what you’re supposed to do with your life at 18. It’s an absurd idea, and will only make you feel bad when life inevitably sends you down unexpected paths.

What’s the last show you went to?

Joe: Suzanne Ciani performing in Quadrophic Sound at Zebulon in LA.

What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?

Nikki: Hand’s down, The Princess Bride.

What’s one of your hidden talents?

Christopher: Scuba Diving (60+ dives).

Physical Thrills is out now via New Machine Recordings. Get it here.