Random Rules: Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups
The shuffler: Brian Aubert, singer-guitarist of Silversun Pickups. The L.A. quartet began to build up a healthy buzz around its buzzy indie rock before it had released an album, but few of its early followers could have predicted how well things would go for the band in 2007. Propelled by the singles "Lazy Eye" and "Well Thought Out Twinkles," 2006's Carnavas turned the Pickups into a household name on the alt-rock circuit, and now they're pushing a third track, "Little Lover's So Polite." The band is currently taking a breather following nearly two years of touring and writing songs for its sophomore album.
Sparklehorse, "Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain"
Brian Aubert: This is the title track of the newest record—this is the ending of the record, and it's a 10-minute spooky instrumental. I love their old records—I love all their records, but particularly It's A Wonderful Life. That record just ruled so much—it was kind of like a band's band. I kind of assumed it was a massive record, because everybody I knew was so into it, but I realized nobody really knows who they are. This song is really cool. At first, I was kind of hesitant about this record, but it really, really grew on me in the van when we were on tour. I remember falling asleep with my laptop on, and I kind of had a weird dream to this song. I saw Mark Linkous and Sparklehorse here in Los Angeles, where they did a live score to this movie The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari—it's an old German Expressionist film. It kind of sounds like this—really cool.
The A.V. Club: Do you remember anything about the dream?
BA: No, I wish I did. I kind of feel like it was just remembering seeing the film score. It was this film festival, and it was a small amphitheater outside—it was summer at night in L.A., before it got too hot, kind of nice and cool, and it was this huge black-and-white film with Mark Linkous and this other guy up in the corner, just scoring with these theremin sounds, stuff like that. I think I just dreamed about that night again. I kind of woke up in a daze—it's a long song. It kind of made me fall in love with the record and Sparklehorse again. I think the reason I was hesitant about the record and not into it as much is because it was Sparklehorse, and I loved the other one so much. Almost because he was Sparklehorse, I was giving it a hard time—and when I woke up out of that haze, I was like, "You know what? It's Sparklehorse, man! Why am I fighting with you?" [Laughs.]
Johnny Cash, "The Long Black Veil/Give My Love To Rose"
BA: This is a medley, live at San Quentin. Joe [Lester], our keyboard player, gave me this for Christmas, this At San Quentin box set. It's really awesome. It's literally the whole show—it's two CDs, and a DVD of a late-'60s documentary. It's so comprehensive—The Statler Brothers opening up, and The Carter Family doing stuff, and there's two takes of "San Quentin"—he's like, "Let's do it again, this time we'll do it better." "The Long Black Veil" is a pretty sad song—it's definitely one of my favorites. I always get mad when somebody at some party gets out the acoustic guitar and tries to sing it. [Laughs.] I hate when that happens, and it's happened more than once. I'm really sorry I never got to see him. I really liked him when I was a kid. My mom was into all kinds of things—she liked Johnny Cash and The Beach Boys and Journey. My grandfather, who lives in Hawaii, he's in the military, and he was in charge of taking artists around to do shows for everybody. So he became friends with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, and he would always tell me stories. I was actually in Hawaii visiting my family when he died, and my grandfather told me a lot of stuff.
Prince And The Revolution, "The Beautiful Ones"
BA: This is one of my favorite songs off Purple Rain. It rules. What are you going to do? It's fucking Prince. He's an awesome guitar player. Purple Rain is so awesome—you know, it's got dated sounds and things like that, but just listen to the songs. The songs are awesome—it's a masterpiece. I saw this band in L.A. called W.A.C.O., they're like this kind of bizarre acoustic orchestra thing made up of members of all kinds of bands. They did Purple Rain from beginning to end, and two things happened: One, I was like, "Oh man, this doesn't sound that great." And the other thing was like, "Wow, but that song is just fucking awesome." You can't take it away. "The Beautiful Ones" is the awesome piano one where he goes crazy, and then says, "Do you want him, or do you want me? [Imitating Prince.] 'CAUSE I WANT YOU!"
Mew, "Why Are You Looking Grave?"
BA: This band's awesome. I don't know exactly how to talk about this song. I think they're a great band. The songs are so cool and they're so interesting—it almost reminds me of '80s metal sometimes. And The Glass Handed Kites has really grown on me, kind of as a whole unit. Dude, people are always complaining and bitching about how things aren't new—get out of here! Stuff is happening so much now, and Mew, to me, is one of those things.
The Kingdom, "Polaris"
BA: We did a tour with Viva Voce, we co-headlined, and we went around the United States, and they're friends with this band from Portland called The Kingdom. They're on Arena Rock or something—they're really trippy, they're crazy. "Polaris" is such a good song. You know when you become friends with people, you see bands, you have friends' bands, and you watch them and whatever, and then sometimes there's a song where you're like, "Fuck—wow, you guys"? And you constantly stress it, even though you hope you're not annoying them. Live, it was like this heavy, fast, rocking song—I was just like, "Dude, that is the best song. You guys kill it every night with that song." Then on the record, it's like a piano ballad. I was disappointed at first. Now, I'm like, "No, this is way better. It just shows you how strong that song is." They are totally bizarre. [K1] is a concept record about a guy having a sex change, but the only images he uses are things like airplanes and snowmobiles. It's a total mindfuck. Supposedly he's got like four other records—he has a whole concept thing that ends at K4, and then it's over. [Laughs.] When I was talking to Charles [Westmoreland], who's, I guess, the leader of this band, he made me feel so lazy.