Silversun Pickups: No Signs of Slowing Down

Simply put, Silversun Pickups vocalist/guitarist Brian Aubert’s brain just doesn’t stop.

Already working on new songs for the acclaimed alternative rock band’s next album – while simultaneously trying to figure out how to best present the band’s existing six albums on their current tour (coming to the Kalamazoo State Theatre March 1) – Aubert told Revue there is a flow to what they do, that he always wants to tap into whenever he can.

“We have a couple of anchors that we rarely change, but we like to have revolving doors that we switch out or switch up,” he said via phone about crafting the band’s epic live show. “When you see the show, the energy really determines where things go.”

Actively working on a text chain with his band mates – bassist/vocalist Nikki Monninger, keyboardist Joe Lester, and drummer Christopher Guanlao – Aubert mentioned how this tour will lean on Silversun Pickups’ most recent record, 2022’s Physical Thrills, although not as heavily as their previous tour in support of that album, and will likely include songs from across their entire catalog.

“There’s a lot of songs, and our songs are long,” Aubert said, before joking, “We’re not Bruce Springsteen, so we’ll usually get our hour and 40 minutes up there, which I think is long enough for most people to deal with us.”

Both of Silversun Pickups’ biggest radio hits, 2006’s “Lazy Eye,” and 2009’s “Panic Switch,” clock in at nearly six minutes each, and they often swell to even longer with the sea of guitar sounds the Los Angeles-band brings to the stage. So structuring a set that hits all the singles, as well as some surprises, has become increasingly challenging.

But doing things their own way has been Silversun Pickups’ whole mode of operation from day one, when the band first formed back in 2000. Staying entirely independent throughout their career, including becoming the first independent artist to hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart in over a decade with the release of “Panic Switch,” and issuing their last three records on their own independent label New Machine Recordings, the Grammy-nominated band has continued to defy expectation or easy categorization.

During the pandemic, Silversun Pickups took their own path too, touring heavily, if only briefly, in support of their 2019 album Widow’s Weeds, before lockdown hit, and again when a break in variants allowed for the vaccinated to gather.

“This is the weirdest thing, and this is a sentence that only someone who has been through COVID can understand,” Aubert said. “There was a time between Delta and Omicron, where things were a little bit clearer, and we toured in that moment, and what I remember, it was a really interesting experience when people came out.”

Essentially their pandemic album, Physical Thrills, taps into that missing sense of physical connection and shared physical experience that we all lost during the pandemic. Written by Aubert and the band while in between parenting his then preschool-age son, and produced by the legendary Butch Vig (of Nirvana’s Nevermind fame), who the band has struck up a strong friendship and collaborative partnership with while recording at his home studio in L.A., the album simultaneously sounds familiar to longtime fans, while venturing into new sonic territory as well.

Although Aubert said the band does not consider themselves to be influential, they have humbly come to accept that throughout the length of their career they have inspired others.

“We’ve been around for enough years that we have to watch how we talk about ourselves because we might be (dumping) on someone’s favorite band,” Aubert joked. “And we can’t do that, and we’ve realized that we have a different kind of responsibility, because there are things that are beyond your control.”

And speaking of inspiring another generation, Aubert said his son has had some of his own original artwork get turned into some Silversun Pickups’ merch, which he is excited to see at the show. He also feels that parenthood has changed him in profound ways as a person, well beyond being an artist, but even with those pressures and responsibilities, he doesn’t see the band stopping again, outside of a pandemic, anytime soon.

Silversun Pickups
Wsg. Hello Mary
Kalamazoo State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick, Kalamazoo
March 1, 7 p.m. (doors), 8 p.m. (show), $35+,


Photo Courtesy of Claire Marie Vogel.