Silversun PickupsPhoto by Autumn de Wilde

Sunnyside Up

Long-running L.A. rock band Silversun Pickups return to Eugene

Silversun Pickups go all out for the holidays. “We’re traditionalists,” drummer Christopher Guanlao tells me over the phone from Richmond, Virginia. SSPU is wrapping up a run of East Coast dates before heading back out west for a series of shows, beginning Dec. 13 at the McDonald Theatre, playing Eugene radio station’s ’NRQ Xmas concert.  

“We love doing the Christmassy things,” Guanlao continues, like decorating the tour bus with lights and even a Christmas tree. And despite the fact it’s tough to be apart from friends and family during the holidays, it’s especially fun to be back East around Christmas — to bundle up and “see where they do Christmas up,” Guanlao says. 

SSPU’s tour bus got held up by a Christmas parade just that same morning. “We watched!” Guanlao says, and it really got the band in the Christmas spirit.

Silversun Pickups are out on the road supporting their 2019 release, Widow’s Weeds. Since their 2005 debut EP, Pikul, Silversun Pickups have remained remarkably consistent. They’ve taken a slow and steady approach to their career, bridging ’90s alternative rock and early 2000s emo, with singer Brian Aubert’s yearning, occasionally Billy Corgan-esque vocals, humming electric guitar work and hammering percussion from the self-taught Guanlao and bassist Nikki Monninger.

With Widow’s Weeds, SSPU wanted to get back to their roots, Guanlao explains, to create a warmer sound with more guitars and more drums, real strings and less programming. “Where we came from,” Guanlao says, describing the sound. “How we normally recorded in the past,” when SSPU were just friends, hanging out together in L.A.’s Silverlake district.

Before heading into the studio, the songs on the new album were pretty barebone, Guanlao says. “Brian will come in with a song idea. From there, we start messing with the arrangements and instruments.” Sometimes a SSPU song starts with a single guitar riff, like the band’s latest single “Don’t Know Yet.” 

Looking back, Guanlao attributes the band’s longevity to the friendships on which the band was founded. “We became a band because we were friends,” he says. “Going to band practice and playing shows, even before we got signed, was more like a social thing. We hit some bumpy patches but once we got out of that, we’re closer. We became family, more than anything.”

Silversun Pickups play with The Wrecks 8 pm Friday, Dec. 13, at McDonald Theatre; $29.50 advance, $35 door, all-ages.