Silversun Pickups followed ‘spaghetti Western’ sound to Vegas

A band soaked in atmospheric movie soundtrack textures, looking to shoot a noirish video. And they had to be talked into filming it in Las Vegas?

“At first we were very hesitant,” Silversun Pickups drummer Christopher Guanlao confesses of the video for the band’s single “Nightlight.”

“We were afraid it was going to be a lot of the Vegas Strip, a really crazy extreme-Vegas-type thing.”

But veteran video director Mark Pellington, who has worked with everyone from U2 to Demi Lovato, “assured us he was actually looking at more the outskirts of it, the things you don’t normally see in Vegas. The streets you normally don’t turn right into when you’re a tourist.”

The sexy-weird results show the Strip only in the distance, and quick shots of downtown strobe in amid its David Lynchian doings, many of which seem to occur at the Artisan.

The veteran rock quartet that plays Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday, says the latest album, “Better Nature,” continues the band’s penchant for atmospherics inspired by movie soundtracks.

The last one, “Neck of the Woods,” was inspired by ’80s horror flicks; the album cover is a clue.

The new cover shot depicts the band out in the desert and, yes, “This time around with ‘Better Nature,’ we got really into the spaghetti Western, that Ennio Morricone sound. We found it very intriguing,” Guanlao says of the Italian composer’s iconic soundtracks including Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” trilogy.

“Even the gutteral noises those soundtracks had, from whistling to grunt noises. They really used the voice as an instrument and we wanted to do that. You can hear hints of that ‘Haroomph’ in the background of ‘Nightlight.’ ”

The quartet fronted by Brian Aubert — with bassist Nickki Monninger, guitarist Joe Lester and Guanlao — had a leaner ’90s-alt-rock sound when it came out of the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles in the early 2000s.

But the new album was entirely a studio creation, Guanlao says. “We came in every day not necessarily knowing what we were going to do. We were throwing a lot of things against the wall and seeing what would stick, so we really didn’t pay much mind to, ‘How are we going to accomplish this live?’

“That happens when we’re done with the record and we’ve had time to sit with it.”

The band is often compared to big ’90s rock acts such as Smashing Pumpkins or Garbage and shares their melodic knack for radio-friendly tunes such as “Panic Switch.”

But Silversun is now among a dwindling number of rock bands able sustain interest beyond the “jam band” circuit.

“It’s been harder the last few years. Everything is so different,” Guanlao says. “We play these festivals and we see less and less rock bands.

“We’re fortunate we can still be around,” he adds. “We try to challenge ourselves musically, and I think that keeps our fan base interested and curious on what we’re going to do next. We really want to make sure we’re progressing as a band creatively.”

Most of all, “We’re not taking anything for granted,” he says. “This last few months of touring has re-energized us. After doing this for quite a while, we’re back to kind of realizing this is the best job in the world.”

Read more from Mike Weatherford at Contact him at and follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.

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