Silversun Pickups Interview

The new Silversun Pickups record is due to hit stores April 17. We decided to put our good friend Joel Chapman (brain / guitars behind Amy Meredith) in contact with Silversun’s drummer Christopher Guanlao to get the dll on their forthcoming LP; “Swoon”

P: Hey Chris, it’s Joel here doing the interview for I’m actually in a band here in Australia called Amy Meredith, not sure if you remember… We toured with you when you were out here last.

C: What is it called?

Amy Meredith. We played first.

Ohhhh oh I don’t remember.

We went to Sydney and Melbourne.

Oh ok…

Well…**giggles** I remember.

So you’ve got your new album (Swoon) coming out here in Australia, April 17th. How you feeling?

Yeah yeah yeah, we’re totally excited about it. We worked hard, you know, it’s funny how it’s going to come out, you know. I think writing and recording took a whole year…. We started writing it in February 08 and it wasn’t really finished until February 09.

Was that non stop in the studio or were you touring in between all that?

We did some one off shows here and there but for the most part we stayed in the studio. Like the first 6 months was basically just writing, we had a practice space and we just wrote and wrote and I think we ended up writing about 20 songs. From there we had to decide what we’d like to record and from there I think we narrowed it down to like 16 songs to record. And then the last 6 months of the year we were in the studio.

Who decided on the final songs that actual went on the album? Was it up to the band or did you have A&R people pressuring you to pick the final songs for the album out of that 20?

I think it was a lot of the band,I think we kind of paired down. I think we cut it down to like 12 songs we wanted on the record. And then we got a bit of heat to remove a couple of the songs. In typical band fashion we were like “Fuck no man! This is our vision!” Then we fought for a while and realised that an album over an hour long is kind of…. long. Hahaha we tried it without the 2 songs and we were like “Hahaha ok, we get your point.”

So what’s going to happen to the other two songs? B sides?

Yeah either B Sides or something. They’ll definitely see the light of day. They were definitely songs that could’ve easily been on the record, it really was a shame they couldn’t make it. Yeah we’ll definitely do something with them.

Rumour has it you guys had an orchestra come in? Was that for the majority of the record or just for a few songs or?

Ummm.. I think 3 or 4 songs. Yeah we had like a 16 piece orchestra come in, it was amazing! It was kind of weird because it was kind of a near the end of the recording process. We were all tired, we were all kind of sick of each other, sick of everybody, sick of the songs and then this 16 piece orchestra comes in and starts putting music, you know, strings down over our songs and we were just kind of like holy shit. You know?

Were you happy with how it came out?

Yeah yeah it was amazing, we’re really happy with how it went out. At first we thought we’d just get a quartet and then just like overdub and overdub to make an orchestra. It just so happens it was actually cheaper to hire 16 people for one day as opposed 4 people for a few days.

So how are you going to tour with that are you going to take all 16 on tour with you?

We’re taking all of them haha!

Really haha?

All of them on tour with us!

In a massive bus!?

Hahaha no… We’re probably going to umm… Fake some of it, you know?

Backing tracks?

No, not necessarily backing tracks. Joe, our keyboard player, he’s kind of like a mad scientist, he’s figuring out ways of duplicating things with a lot of samples and a lot of you know umm… Synthesized trickery, which I know nothing about.

Do you just get into the studio and do your drum parts and that’s it or?

Yeah like I came in the first like two weeks and I was just doing drums, drums for two weeks solid. This was like the first two weeks we were in the studio, it was really kind of…. It was a pain in the ass! Haha because there was no adjustment period for me, there was no kind of “getting into a studio groove.” I always kind of compare it to when you’re with your friends and you go to a swimming pool and you’re the one that has to jump in and go right out. Everybody else can just dip their toe and like you know put their feet in. Then all of a sudden they can splash around and have fun for a couple of hours, and you’re already out, done, freezing your ass off.

I noticed that when you played live over here in Australia you had one of your cymbals up really high. Do you still do that in the studio or is that just a live kind of thing?

Haha they won’t let me do that in the studio ’cause of micing. It’s a pain in the ass to mic. I lower it. But when we were writing it was up there and live shows it’s always up there, I prefer it to be up there.

I’d imagine you’d have to do some crazy stretch to reach your arm over your head like that?

Haha yeah yeah a lot of stretching. It’s funny ’cause I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal. People tell me and they’re like “Man I don’t understand how you can reach that high?” Well I’m just like I got a stick, I’m holding this piece of wood that hits it.

And it looks cool as well, that’s all that matters!

Hahahaha yeah a lot of it is for dramatic effect ahahahaha.

So you’re album is called “Swoon” how did you come up with that name? A little birdy told me that it’s because when all the girls see you they just swoon, all the groupies…

Well they do do that, that is a true story. Hahaha no that’s not it.

Hahaha well we’ve got that recorded so we might just take that out of context.

Hahahahahahahha no it came from. I mean when we first started writing the record we had this big white dry eraser board and on the first we started Brian came in and wrote “Swoon?” on top of that board. And he was kind of like “I don’t know if this is a title or a theme or what we’re thinking, let’s just keep it up there.” And it kind of worked, it kind of just felt like it was a little bit of fusion consciousness.

So it kind of suits the record now?

Definitely, definitely, it is like a mental breakdown. A lot of ups and downs, sometimes it was easier but most of the times it was extremely difficult. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the best possible record we could make. It’s funny ’cause we didn’t have much pressure from record labels or outside management. It made it difficult you know? This is the first time we had to write a record, the first record we had those songs for 3 years and we just had to record them and tweak them. This time we had nothing.

So what happens now are you guys jammed up ready to tour?

Yeah I guess, we’re trying to learn how to play these songs live. Yeah we’re getting there, we’re not really where we want to be at but we’re getting there. We’re close, we’re just trying to learn how to play these songs and we’re starting to do a bit of touring.

So when do you guys think you’ll be out in Australia?

We don’t have a specific time yet. But hopefully sooner then later. Triple J are playing our singles so hopefully people will want us to come there soon. We had such a great time last time, and it was first time for all us.

Hahaha yeah cool. Well I think that’s a wrap.

Wait! Did you really play our shows?

Yeah man, the first one at the Annandale in Sydney and ummm… The second one in the Ding Dong Lounge. We actually did your lights on the second show. We were really drunk.

You did lights!?

Hahaha Yeah we actually kicked your light guy off the desk and did your lights for you.

Hahahahahahhahahahahahah nice nice, I still don’t remember.

Thanks dude we’re out!

Nice talking to you! Bye!