It can be surprising to realize that Silversun Pickups have been around for as long as they have. For a band that made a name for themselves on a couple soaring indie bangers back in the 00’s, it’s tough to keep it in mind that this is now an accomplished, veteran band with many records under their belt. Their most recent is Widow’s Weeds and the band is prepping for an appearance at this year’s KAABOO in Del Mar. The annual fest invariably manages to pull some of the very best acts of the last three decades together in one place for one of the best organized festivals around. We got to talk to them just last week about their last record and preparations for the show. Check it out after the jump:

What was it like working with Butch Vig, someone who has touched some of the most important records ever including Nirvana’s Nevermind (as well as L7, Garbage, and countless others)?
It doesn’t feel like we’ve been around for that long but the years don’t lie and the number of records don’t lie. We grew up listening to those records—huge fans of nirvana, sonic youth, smashing pumpkins. You could easily say that’s part of why we got into music and became a band in the first place. So when it came time to pick another—mix things up not be too comfortable in a situation—Brian came up and said ‘hey what do you think about Butch Vig?’ I was like ‘I would love that!’ We knew him a little bit, Brian did guest vocals on one garbage song. So we kinda knew of him and he lives in the same neighborhood as him so it was kinda easy. We just texted him “hey you wanna make a record?” and he was like “Yeah!” So that’s how it started. Once we got into the studio it was a hundred times better than anticipated. Butch was so laid back and easy to talk to and communicate with. Never any real pressure just hanging out. All four of us were constantly there every day so it was such a collaborative and fun experience. Never felt like work. We got a lot done even with how easy it felt. Eventually, we told him “Hey, A lot of our friend wanna meet you,” and he was totally cool with it. He’s such a people person so he hung out with everyone and was so welcoming. Became their friend. He and billy bush (engineer) were on top of it 100percent. Always engaged.

What do you think of the current glut of festivals we are in right now? What drew you to KAABOO?
So many festivals coming out now and each year there’s just a bunch of new ones. It’s nice that’s it’s pretty close to la and to be honest I really enjoy festivals. It’s a little bit of a circuit cause it can be frantic but I love that atmosphere. See a bunch of bands in the backstage area and it feels like an event.

You guys took some time off seemingly between records–did the time away help to refocus and revitalize? was it just needed to take a step back after 15 years?
Not really. Not too many side projects or anything that takes too much of our time. When we got off the road, we usually need a few months to reintegrate into normal society. So we just relAx. This time around, when we ended our last tour at the end of 2017 it was a rough tour. Towards the end of the better nature cycle…better half of two years…Brian fell off the stage and broke his arm but he still continued but the hospital gave him a flu shot and he got the flu and we had to regroup and go back out so we just decided we needed to take a break and recharge our batteries so we took like six months off to hang out and relax and then got back in the rehearsal space writing and doing preproduction. Once butch got involved it went pretty fast. We got a lot done really quickly. It would have been quicker but butch had touring duties with garbage which we knew about and then when he came back we resumed. Which was nice cause we recorded some, take a break, and come back to it with fresh eyes. So it was nice to have that break. And also it was really nice to be recording in our neighborhood—Atwater and silver lake. The farthest we went was hollywood. It was nice to be in the neighborhood and be able to come home. The last two were in Topanga cantyon wheich was beautiful but the commute was killing us. So it was nice to have it five mins away.

How do you stay inspired for coming up with drum lines–do you constantly listen to or watch other drummers or is it all sheer inspiration?
It’s kinda tough so we’ve been in it for awhile now. I try actively to make sure I’m up to date with current bands. Especially if I like them. And I know what’s out there and current. As far as drumming and I love watching certain drummers play, but what’s really fun about this current situation is that butch is a drummer and so we could talk about that. It was really inspiring for him to be involved because it was very intuitive because he has a drummers perspective. Where we wanna go or what we wanna do. Producer who is not a drummer there’s a lot of sign language or definitions—sometimes it gets complicated or lost in translation but with butch I knew I was in good hands. With technology it’s so easy to lay one track and say “we’ll fix it in post” but this there was more emphasis in getting it good live first. Get a live feel. And work at east west studios and work in these studios with these huge amounts of history. When we did that for widows weeds i got so much inspiration from peeking in studios where The Beach Boys or the carpenters recorded.

Do you have any direct involvement with art? You guys have always had such distinctive choices from using Todd Hido for Neck of the Woods to your latest. They never look the same but always you can always tell “yeah that looks like a silversun pickups record.”
We’re very involved with our art work. It’s almost in tandem with when we go into the studio to start writing. Brian normally has lots of ideas and mick is an arts major so she keeps up with it and goes to a lot of art shows and has a finger on what’s current. So she just printed out a bunch of prints that she had or found so we had this whole array of things to look at while we were recording, so it got our creative juices flowing and made us aware of the art early early on. For the past few years we’ve been working with Lauren bazeraxk? And he’s very open and keyed into what we do so we lean on him a lot. We were describing to him—might be first album from a non pre-existing piece. We told him the idea for widows weep and he came back from London for a business trip and he was walking around taking photos of branches and trees and messed with it and put it together and gave us a rough idea of what the Art ended up being. We loved the venininess of it…looked like arteries and veins. It hust felt really right so it worked out.