New Audio: Silversun Pickups Cover Low’s “Just Like Christmas”

Silversun Pickups — Brian Aubert (vocals, guitar, keys). Nikki Monniger (bass, vocals), Chis Guano (drums, percussion, programming, vocals) and Joe Lester (keys, samples, sound manipulation, guitar and vocals) — released their Butch Vig-produced, sixth album Physical Thrills earlier this year. The album’s material came together serendipitously during a particularly dark period: The acclaimed Los Angeles-based outfit started 2020 touring to support 2019’s Widows Weeds. The pandemic halted the rest of their tour and forced the band to retreat to their homes.

With touring on hold, Silversun Pickups’ Brian Aubert channeled his energy into taking care of his son. Although his focus initially shifted from the band to domestic affairs, he found that he couldn’t escape the new melodies that had been germinating in his head. “I would sneak off and start writing these songs, and I didn’t know what they’re for because I didn’t really think about Silversun on any level. I was just doing it to keep myself calm and keep myself company,” Aubert explains. The songs were so different from what he’d previously written for Silversun Pickups that he initially thought he might have been writing a musical. He would describe them as “dream shanties” with gentler vocals, horror-inspired sounds and newer elements coming to mind. But the material isn’t meant to be somber; instead, Aubert manages to explore his own comfort — and discomfort — in seemingly indefinite, newfound isolation.

When Aubert presented the new material he had been working o to his bandmates, they readily embraced what would be a new direction for the band. They decided to continue their collaboration with Butch Vig, who had produced and recorded Widow’s Weeds at his Wisconsin home studio. Once Aubert made plans to visit Vig and play him what he had worked on, more music came. Aubert immediately began recording material with Vig, with the rest of the band joining later.

When Aubert revealed the new material to his bandmates, they readily embraced the new direction—and so did producer Butch Vig. The band reunited with Vig, who first worked with SilversunPickups on Widow’s Weeds, recording the album at the famed producer and Garbage-member’s home. Once Aubert made plans to visit Vig and play him what he had, the music began pouring out. He immediately began recording with Vig, having the rest of the band join later.

With the album arguably being the most exploratory of the band’s catalog, each of the band’s members felt much more free to explore and traverse new ground: Guanlao, who usually shies away from drum fills, took inspiration from The Beatles documentary Get Back and Ringo Starr’s drum work on Let It Be threw some in on the album. Monniger’s vocals were showcased much more than on their previously recorded material. And Joe Lester took on a larger writing role, writing the piano part for “We Won’t Come Out,” which became the backbone of the song.

Although the album features an eclectic mix of sounds and melodies, each song on the album is interconnected with each other, and meant to be experienced as a whole body of work. “All of our records are designed for people who want to listen to them all the way through and hopefully stick around with it,” says Aubert. “After a while, maybe you’ll catch on to the little things—not just the [pattern of] the dream songs, but maybe you’ll hear that, and you’ll hear a melody from the first song in the last song. There are crossover things happening.” Monninger adds, “We’ve been together for twenty-two years; it’s really interesting that we still love doing this. We know that we’re fortunate to still be together after all these years, seeking out the silver lining. I feel like we still have many more things to say, and we’re so happy with how this album turned out.”

Silversun Pickups close out 2022 with a slow-burning and shoegazey, Butch Vig-produced cover of Low’s “Just Like Christmas” that pulls out the gentle yearning and wistfulness out a bit further to the forefront. All proceeds from the song will be donated to Union Gospel Mission, a charity of Alan Sparkhawk’s choice — in Mimi Parker’s name. Silversun Pickups suggest that you should consider directly supporting and listening through Bandcamp — and based on the fact that it’s worthwhile cause, you should.

We’ve been fans of Low’s beautiful music for a long time now. When we heard the news about Mimi’s passing, we were incredibly sad. With Alan’s blessing, we decided to cover one of their Christmas songs, with hopes of raising money for a cause dear to Alan in Mimi’s name. Low’s Christmas is a classic. It was the first one I ever heard that made me feel holiday music could be cool.”

The band will resume touring to support Physical Thrills in 2023. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
Fri, Feb 17, 2023                     Birmingham, AL          Iron City
Sun, Feb 19, 2023                   Knoxville, TN               Mill & Mine
Mon, Feb 20, 2023                  Asheville, NC               Orange Peel
Tue, Feb 21, 2023                   Louisville, KY               Mercury Ballroom
Thu, Feb 23, 2023                   McKees Rock, PA        Roxian Theater
Fri, Feb 24, 2023                     Cincinnati, OH             Bogarts
Sat, Feb 25, 2023                    Chicago, IL                   Radio Show
Tue, Feb 28, 2023                   Little Rock, AR             The Hall
Thu, Mar 2, 2023                    New Orleans, LA         House of Blues
Sat, Mar 4, 2023                     San Antonio, TX          The Aztec Theatre
Sun, Mar 5, 2023                    Ft Worth, TX                Tannahill’s
Mon, Mar 6, 2023                   Dallas, TX                    House of Blues
Tue, Mar 7, 2023                    Houston, TX                House of Blues
Thu, Mar 9, 2023                    Austin, TX                    Emo’s