May 5, 2008

[Music] The Silversun Pickups

Silversun Pickups - Carnavas

Normally, Philippine media is pretty good at playing the local version of Where's Waldo when it comes to international news. In any given high-tension international conflict or major entertainment event, someone is out there bound to be determining if there are any Filipinos involved. You have to admit, we've become a rather global people, albeit not necessarily in the front lines most of the time. We're subtle that way - more behind-the-scenes in that respect, I suppose.

As much as I pride myself in generally keeping abreast of entertainment news relevant to me like new bands of interest, it kind of irks me to realize that before this trip to the US I had never heard of the Silversun Pickups despite (1) their style of music appeals to me, (2) their drummer is a Filipino and thus should have generated some buzz back at home and worse, (3) he's technically my uncle. Go figure.

In my own defense, they're not quite mainstream just yet and mainly still tagged as an indie rock group and many features I've read describe them to be "on the brink of stardom" and hence not quite there yet either. The description fits, I suppose, but then it seems only right that I do my share to help push them over the edge. Family ties aside, they're a pretty good band.

The Silversun Pickups (SSPU) are based in Los Angeles and started about 3 years ago. The group is composed of 4 actual real-life friends - a somewhat rarity in the increasingly scientific and formulaic world of the entertainment industry that "creates" or "constructs" music groups based on prevailing trends. The band is composed of guitarist/lead vocalist Brian Aubert, bass player Nikki Monninger, drummer Christopher Guanlao and keyboardist Joe Lester.

Their sound feels like a bit of a blast from the past - the past being the 90's era of rock and yet with its own distinctions that bring it to life in the present. They're often compared to bands like the Smashing Pumpkins and I'll have to admit there are similarities but at the same time there are significant differences. As much as everyone wants to look for that entirely original sound, I doubt that's fully possible anymore given the rich wealth of musical history we're burdened with - any band is bound so sound something like musicians that have come before them. The challenge is presenting a unique mix of those diverse elements and to turn them into something greater.

Silversun Pickups - Lazy Eye

The SSPU's claim to fame was their 2006 single Lazy Eye from their album Carnavas (cover art above) and led to many other opportunities for them. They've made most of the late night rounds on shows like The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Last Call with Carson Daly. In addition, they've played / toured with groups like Wolfmother, Snow Patrol, OK Go, and the Foo Fighters, to name a few. These tours have taken them well away from Silver Lake, California to venues like the UK, Ireland and other parts of Europe.

The SSPU are currently working on their second album and perhaps this is what's going to help them reach out to more audiences and further define their style and sound of play. They also have other performances in the coming months including one that will take them to Tokyo, Japan. As much as I'd like to list they'll be coming to the Philippines, that kind of support won't happen right away until more people at home realize what a great band they are.

For more information, the web is filled with stuff since the band is very supportive of online media, partially attributing some of their success to the blogosphere and various social networks. You can find them (of course) on MySpace and Facebook and of course Wikipedia, to highlight a few of their more major online locations other than their official website.

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