Steve Gullick

The 2009 album Swoon was massive for Los Angeles alt-rock quartet Silversun Pickups. They landed a pair of radio hits with “The Royal We” and “Panic Switch,” which appeared, along with other LP tracks, in tons of video games, including Rock Band and Guitar Hero. People done found out about Silversun Pickups in the three years since Swoon dropped. And now they’re preparing to return with Neck of the Woods, their third album out May 8.

SPIN chatted with frontman Brian Aubert, and scored some great photos of the band goofing off and recording in Grammy-winning producer Jacknife Lee’s studio in Topanga, California. Here’s what we learned from the interview.

--The new album sounds like “a horror movie.” Okay, then!

--The new songs started to come together in Aubert’s head during a recent European vacation, and many strike a very personal note: “Swoon was more about what I was feeling that particular time,” he explained. “With this one I wanted to see what built me. It was learning why I am the way I am.”

--The band recorded with Grammy-winning producer Jacknife Lee, who has a studio in Topanga. Aubert met Lee when he recorded background vocals on a song by Snow Patrol, one of Lee’s regular collaborators.

--Visiting Lee’s Topanga studio—where they’d take breaks to play basketball with Lee’s daughters—was a personal experience for Aubert, who grew up nearby. “I thought it would be fun to walk down my old street. It was like playing with fire a little bit. So much came back that I had forgotten about and it was a really emotional experience."

--Musically, Aubert says, “We really wanted to play with drums as textures. We played around with drums coming in here and there and building atmosphere, which guitars usually do.”

--Despite the experimentation, Aubert confirms that Neck of the Woods is “still a rock record. There’s big distorted guitar, but we also explore really pretty, dreamy parts.

--“I’ve never learned so much about myself while making an album, but this was a really intimate experience.” There ya have it.
Excited for the new Silversun Pickups album? Tell us in the comment section.