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Silversun Pickups is an Americanmarker Alternative Rock band from Los Angeles, Californiamarker, comprising Brian Aubert (lead vocals, guitar), Nikki Monninger (bass, vocals), Christopher Guanlao (drums) and Joe Lester (keyboards).

The band released their debut EP, Pikul, in July 2005, and their debut full-length album, Carnavas, on July 26, 2006. Their second full length album, Swoon, was released on April 14, 2009.


The band members are friends who had played together previously or in mutual friends' bands. They got their start in many of the most important L.A. clubs, most often at Silverlake Lounge or nearby Spaceland, and began to draw a strong following upon the release of the Pikul EP. Pikul was the nickname of a friend of the band who died in 2001, so the EP was named in memory of him. He also designed guitar picks, one of which bassist Nikki Monninger contributed to a recent auction for charity. The link for this auction can be found on the Silversun Pickups homepage.

The band originated in L.A.'s Silver Lakemarker music scene, home of Elliott Smith, Rilo Kiley and others.

According to interviews with the band, they started out as a four person act around 2000, with Brian on lead guitar, Nikki on bass, and Brian's then girlfriend on drums, and Nikki's then boyfriend on second guitar. They were originally called A Couple Of Couples to reflect the nature of their relationships. Nikki was just learning to play bass, the drummer was a novice, they were all very shy about performing, and, according to them, sounded awful. Nikki recorded some of their songs on a boom box, sent it to a music festival in New York, and to their surprise they got accepted. They went just so they could hang out in NYC and listen to great music. A local LA bar owner heard them at the New York festival and liked them and knew them from the Silverlake area of LA. He asked them to do some shows at his bar. From that point on the band was in demand for gigs at anytime. According to Nikki, they were the only ones who would play at 1 am.

Joe Lester and Chris Guanlao were friends with the band and were in other bands in the LA area. Eventually they came together as the Silversun Pickups after Brian and Nikki split from their significant others.

Their current name comes from a liquor and convenience store across from the Silverlake Lounge and near their house at Sunset and Silverlake Blvds in Los Angeles. In interviews, however, the band often say their name is more of "a state of mind," supposedly from living so close to everything an L.A.-based indie rock band would need late at night. For Pikul, fellow Silverlaker Tanya Haden was enlisted to play cello.

The band members have some unique styles when playing live or in their videos. Nikki, bassist/backing vocals, almost always appears in a dress or skirt and blouse. One of her basses has a guitar strap with three skulls making a cellphone call. Brian, guitarist/lead singer often wears checkered shirts, short jackets, and black shoes. He has an extensive guitar pedal system in front of him on the stage floor which he uses to create a wide range of sounds. He often uses a wireless guitar so that he can move freely around the stage. Joe, keyboard player, is known for his porkpie hat and thick beard. Finally, Chris the drummer is often cited for his wild head movements on stage with his long black hair covering his face, as well as the conspicuous use of a skyscraping crash cymbal. His fanatical drumming is one of the highlights of any SSPU live performance.


On September 26, 2006, the band released their debut full-length album Carnavas. Two of the album's four singles, "Lazy Eye" and "Well Thought Out Twinkles," would hit the top 10 of the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in 2007. The band finished a three-week tour opening for Australian rockers Wolfmother on December 9, 2006, and later toured with OK Go and Snow Patrol on their U.S.marker spring tour, which ended on April 10, 2007. The band also played at the Coachella Music Festivalmarker in Indio, Californiamarker on April 27, 2007 and would play various concerts for Modern Rock formatted radio stations in the US throughout the year.

Their song "Lazy Eye" is featured on Guitar Hero: World Tour as well as Rock Band 2. "Well Thought Out Twinkles" and "Melatonin" are featured in Rock Band as downloadable content, as well.

The song "Well Thought Out Twinkles" is in the soundtrack for the videogame Tony Hawk's Proving Ground. Also this song was featured in Chris Haslam's part on "United by Fate" skateboarding DVD.

A remix of "Lazy Eye" by Adam Freeland was featured on his compilation Global Underground 032: Mexico City.

The band also toured the UKmarker and Irelandmarker while Carnavas was released there on May 28, 2007. They opened for Foo Fighters in Edinburghmarker, Scotlandmarker, and Dublinmarker, Irelandmarker. They also opened for the Kaiser Chiefs during their European tour.

"Table Scraps", the b-side from the Future Foe Scenario's single, was featured on the compilation album Give. Listen. Help. Volume 5, which was released on October 14, 2008.

"Little Lover's So Polite", a radio-only single, is featured on the soundtrack to dark comedy film Jennifer's Body.


It was announced through Alternative Press Magazine Issue #243 that the band's second album would be titled Swoon. It includes 10 tracks and, instead of having a straightforward mid-tempo sound, "some songs are very quiet and delicate, [while] others are just fucking loud." (Brian Aubert)The album was released on April 14, 2009 to positive reviews. It debuted at #7 selling over 42,000 copies.

The first single released was "Panic Switch", which quickly aired in heavy rotation on VH1 and MTV music video shows. The song also received worldwide rotation on the radio airwaves. Silversun Pickups is confirmed to play the 2009 Voodoo Music Experience Festival over the Halloween weekend.

In 2009, the band performed "Catch and Release", "Panic Switch", "Lazy Eye", "Well Thought Out Twinkles" and "Kissing Families" for MTV Unplugged.

Also in 2009, bassist/vocalist Nikki Monninger provided guest vocals on the song "Two Can Play" on the album Here Anonymous by fellow Dangerbird Records band Eulogies.

"Growing Old is Getting Old" was featured in an episode during season seven of the CW television show, One Tree Hill, and "Sort Of" was featured in the pilot episode of the TV show The Vampire Diaries.

Musical style and influences

The band's sound, often encompassing multiple overdubs of distorted guitars, is frequently compared to that of The Smashing Pumpkins, while the band members have said they are heavily influenced by artists such as My Bloody Valentine, the Velvet Underground, Elliott Smith, Sonic Youth, Sweet, Modest Mouse, and Secret Machines as well as numerous other artists with lesser publicity.

Band members

Former members




  • 2005: Pikul (Dangerbird)
  • 2007: Remixes (Dangerbird)
  • 2007: Live Session (iTunes Exclusive)
  • 2007: The Tripwire Session: Live in Chicago


Year Song Chart peaks Album


2005 "Kissing Families" Pikul
2006 "Lazy Eye" 102 5 91 44 Carnavas
2007 "Future Foe Scenarios"
"Well Thought Out Twinkles" 9
2008 "Little Lover's So Polite"
2009 "Panic Switch" 92 1 86 Swoon
"Substitution" 21
"—" denotes a release that did not chart.

Music videos

Year Title Director

2003 "Kissing Families" Susie Vlcek
2006 "Lazy Eye" Susie Vlcek
2007 "Well Thought Out Twinkles" Philip Andelman
2008 "Little Lover's So Polite" Joaquin Phoenix
2009 "Panic Switch" James Frost
"Substitution" The Malloys


External links

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