Silversun Pickups Puts its BETTER NATURE on Display at Fingerprints

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Brian Aubert (L) and Nikki Monninger (R) of Silversun Pickups, performing at Fingerprints on Wednesday night. Photos by Matt Cohn. 

Silversun Pickups, an L.A.-based band with an ever-expanding reach, made its third visit to Fingerprints Records Wednesday night to celebrate Friday’s release of the band’s fourth album, Better Nature.

Guitarist/vocalist Brian Aubert and bassist/vocalist Nikki Monninger regaled a sold-out house with songs from Better Nature and also dug into some deep cuts from the band’s previous three albums and two EPs.

Aubert’s amiable, funny between-song patter offset the brooding darkness of his lyrics and the fiery intensity of his singing. Aubert and Monninger were working in the “unplugged” format but were able to generate plenty of dynamic energy and pace for the very receptive crowd.

Brian and Nikki met during their college years, on a plane to England to study in a foreign exchange program.

“They’ve been best friends ever since,” said Nikki’s step-dad Rick Caldwell, in attendance with Nikki’s mother, Jean (Nikki grew up in Los Alamitos).

After the concert, Aubert and Monninger were joined by keyboardist/soundmaker Joe Lester and drummer Christopher Guanlao, and the quartet signed albums and posters for an audience from all over L.A., the 101 1809South Bay, the Inland Empire—not to mention Melbourne, Australia.

“We first heard Silversun Pickups in Melbourne on radio station Triple J,” said Jacob and Melissa, two Aussies who planned their month-long visit to California around Wednesday’s Fingerprints show. “They’re very raw, and very talented.”

The couple couldn’t get into the sold-out show at first and were content to listen to it from Berlin, the coffeehouse that adjoins Fingerprints. Their luck changed when they met Nikki’s mom in the coffeehouse. Jean introduced them to the band and got them into the concert. The Aussies will most likely be getting VIP treatment at one of the band’s four upcoming sold-out shows in the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever.

Rand Foster, owner of Fingerprints, describes the Silversun Pickups sound as “dreamy and cinematic, with dense layers and one of the best loud/quiet/loud things going.” Much of that is due to the contributions of keyboardist Joe Lester, whose role has steadily advanced to the forefront.

Lester’s work on Better Nature reflects musical influences as diverse as Radiohead and New Order.

“Our producer Jacknife Lee is a former electronic musician with an incredible synth collection. His studio is literally wall-to-wall instruments,” said Lester, who had free rein to experiment with whatever sound suited his fancy.

Drummer Chris Guanlao’s compelling pummel has been a signature of the band’s sound since it formed in 2002. Chatting with the Post in a loft above the Fingerprints concert stage, he cited Secret Machines drummer Josh Garza as an inspiration (“He reminds me of a futuristic John Bonham,” he said) and also expressed admiration for Carla Azar, drummer for Autolux who also works with Jack White.

Silversun Pickups has spent the last month playing acoustic shows on the East Coast, in Chicago, and in the northwest. The hard-working unit will undoubtedly spend much of 2016 on the road taking Better Nature to the people. Fingerprints keeps the entire Silversun Pickups catalog in stock.

“Historically, we’ve always done really well with them,” said Foster. “This new album is off to their best start yet.”

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Brian and Nikki established an intimate vibe with the enthusiastic Fingerprints crowd. 

Above, right: Silversun Pickups has played the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, the David Letterman Show, been nominated for a Grammy and released four full-length albums and two EPs. 

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