Silversun Pickups have returned with a new song called "Scared Together," from their upcoming sixth studio album Physical Thrills. We caught up with Brian Aubert and Nikki Monninger of the band at BottleRock Napa to dive deep into the creation of the new single, working with super producer Butch Vig again, and more.
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The song begins with a distorted arena rock sound that we're not accustomed to from the band to which Brian noted, "talk box, baby. It's a baritone guitar distorted through a talk box Bon Jovi, Peter Frampton style." Brian explained how the band envisioned the song having wild scene changes and he insisted they use the instrument. "It has to feel like a talk box, it shouldn't feel like some sound we created on a computer. It's something we wanted people who have any type of knowledge of that stuff to go, 'oh, dang, they're using a talk box.'"
Butch Vig of Garbage, who produced the band's 2019 album, Widow's Weeds, along with many of the Alternative genre's biggest records, was hesitant about using a talk box, but his right-hand man, Shirley Manson's husband Billy Bush, was very excited about it. Vig had a bad experience with one in the 90s, but he worked with it this time. "This is the missing ingredient," Aubert said. "So he stuck the tube in my mouth, had the mic up to the tube, all that stuff started blasting in my mouth, I started making the shapes, did it in one take and everyone including Butch was like 'Yes!'" he said. "You should've seen Brian's face the day the box came, we were so excited." Monninger added.
On the potential challenges of performing "Scared Together" live, Aubert notes, "I'm not going to be able to do the actual box because I'm singing so much. The sound of what you're making goes through a tube into your mouth and what you're hearing is the sound of what's happening in your mouth like as you open it through a microphone, 'wow-wow-wow.' I think what we're going to do is rig my guitar and have a separate channel that goes through a tube into Joe (Keyboard). While Joe's sitting there he can do it. We want to have it be very live-sounding."
"It's a fun song. That song for me is romance in the time of COVID. Being really connected to somebody through the fact that you have mutual fears." Aubert explained. On if they'll continue to work with Butch Vig on future records, Aubert said "I think it's Butch Vig forever at this point. We're so close with him as friends. It's got to a point where it's like 'my son's birthday party is on Saturday' and he's like 'Oh, no, I'm drumming for Tears for Fears on Saturday!'"
"There's so much more creativity left between us. I didn't know all of this record was in my head. By the time we met a couple months into 2021 I thought 'I'm going to go over to your house and get a head start on something' and it all came barfing out," said Aubert. "It doesn't feel like a record that was easy, but it was not difficult to create."
On potential plans to celebrate their breakout album Carnavas 15 years since its release, Monninger said, "we might dip into a 'Carnavas' tour." Aubert added, "After this record, I think we might do that."