Silversun Pickups release their sixth album, Physical Thrills, produced by Butch Vig via their label, New Machine Recordings. Brian Aubert of the band shares about the album: “This record is alive. It sits somewhere in between a collection of songs and an imaginary friend. A friend that from March of 2020 to April of 2021 would not only introduce itself to me but keep me company through that time of intense isolation. 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. A friend that was finally introduced to Butch Vig, once we got vaccinated, and blew through his studio like a tornado made of cotton candy, leaving little pieces of residue everywhere. But most importantly, this friend REALLY doesn’t give a fuck. I know. That sounds brash. I just mean it’s a thing that is truly free. And now, this little living head space no longer visits me. I visit it through this album. I hope you like it. My friend wouldn’t care. Little rascal.” Physical Thrills is available for purchase on all formats here.
The band also shares a track-by-track guide to the album via Consequence, who says of the album: “Helmed by legendary producer Butch Vig (Nirvana, Garbage), the new LP sees the veteran quartet finding new avenues to push the envelope within their well-established sound. The record feels universally current…depicting the paradoxical bittersweetness that comes with significant change.” Read it here.
Silversun Pickups recently shared “Alone On A Hill”, the latest single and video. Bassist Nikki Monninger’s vocals are featured on the song and video, revealing, “This song exposes a side I didn’t know I had in me. It felt freeing, especially with everything going on in the past couple of years. I’m grateful everyone gave me so much support during the recording process as I am a bit timid when it comes to hearing the sound of my own voice. Bri just kept telling me to channel my inner Kate Bush.” Listen to the song here, and watch the Suzie Vlcek-directed video here. The band also shared the video for the first single from Physical Thrills, “Scared Together,” directed by Claire Marie Vogel. Watch it here.
Silversun Pickups recently announced their 21-date headlining tour in support of their forthcoming album, Physical Thrills (August 19th, New Machine Recordings). On the “Physical Thrills” tour, the band will perform in cities including San Diego, Los Angeles, Boston, New York City, Atlanta, and Nashville (full dates below). Tickets for all dates are now on sale here. Silversun Pickups have partnered with PLUS1 so that $1 from every ticket sold will go to the PLUS1 x Noise For Now Reproductive Health Access Fund supporting access to reproductive rights and services for all.
Silversun Pickups’ sixth album Physical Thrills came together as a serendipitous accident during a dark time. The LA band began 2020 by touring in support of their record released the previous year, Widow’s Weeds; however, the pandemic halted those plans, with the guitarist and singer Brian Aubert, bassist Nikki Monninger, drummer Christopher Guanlao, and keyboardist Joe Lester finding themselves stuck at home. In that resting period, Aubert wasn’t focused on Silversun Pickups; instead, he channeled his energy into taking care of his son.
As much as his focus initially shifted from the band, he ultimately couldn’t escape the new melodies germinating in his head. “I would sneak off and start writing these songs, and I didn’t know what they’re for because I didn’t really think about Silversun on any level. I was just doing it to keep myself calm and keep myself company,” says Aubert. The songs were so different from what he’d previously written for Silversun Pickups that he initially thought he was writing a musical. There were “dream shanties,” gentler vocals, horror-inspired sounds, and other exciting new elements coming to mind.
When Aubert revealed the new material to his bandmates, they readily embraced the new direction—and so did producer Butch Vig. The band reunited with Vig, who first worked with Silversun Pickups on Widow’s Weeds, recording the album at the famed producer and Garbage-member’s home. Once Aubert made plans to visit Vig and play him what he had, the music began pouring out. He immediately began recording with Vig, having the rest of the band join later.
Physical Thrills was colored by the pandemic, but isn’t meant to be solemn; instead, Aubert explores his own comfort in the temporary, newfound isolation. There are tracks with shoegaze-infused distorted synths and guitar, like opener “Stillness (Way Beyond)”; bouncy, pop-tinged danceable tunes (“Empty Nest,” “Hereafter (Way After)”); pared-down ballads (“Alone On A Hill”); and a collection of “dream shanties,” as Aubert refers to them.
With such an exploratory record, the band members felt free to traverse new ground. Guanlao, who usually shies away from fills on drums, took inspiration from The Beatles documentary Get Back, throwing some into Physical Thrills, influenced by Ringo Starr’s work on Let It Be. Whereas for Monninger, this record allowed her to showcase her vocals at the forefront more than in previous work. Lester also took a larger role in composition on this record, writing the piano part for “We Won’t Come Out,” which became the backbone for the song. The making of Physical Thrills also allowed for whimsical moments, including Aubert creating a distinct tapping noise by incorporating the sound of drumsticks hitting Vig’s Grammy in “Hidden Moon,” and playfully pelting balloons at Monninger while she played “Hereafter (Way After)” on bass to create less tension.
While this record features such an eclectic mix of melodies, each song is interconnected with each other, meant to be experienced as a whole body of work. “All of our records are designed for people who want to listen to them all the way through and hopefully stick around with it,” says Aubert. “After a while, maybe you’ll catch on to the little things—not just the [pattern of] the dream songs, but maybe you’ll hear that, and you’ll hear a melody from the first song in the last song. There are crossover things happening.” Monninger adds, “We’ve been together for twenty-two years; it’s really interesting that we still love doing this. We know that we’re fortunate to still be together after all these years, seeking out the silver lining. I feel like we still have many more things to say, and we’re so happy with how this album turned out.”