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Silversun Pickups stunned at picking up Grammy nod

December 3, 2009 |  3:02 pm


It's taken nearly 10 years to get there, but the pride of the Silver Lake scene finally has been recognized by the establishment.

The Silversun Pickups, who first caught widespread attention with "Lazy Eye," a sliver of woozy early Smashing Pumpkins-inspired rock from the band's 2006 debut album, "Carnavas," were nominated for a Grammy on Wednesday in the best new artist category.

The Zac Brown Band, MGMT, the Ting Tings and R&B songstress Keri Hilson were also nominated.

Currently on tour in Europe with Placebo, the band's frontman, Brian Aubert, was asleep when the news came in. He woke up to hundreds of voicemails and text messages. "To be honest," he wrote in an e-mail from Rotterdam, Netherlands, "I didn't quite understand it. . . . Finally, when my brain started working, I realized what it was and I'm simply stunned."

For a bunch of fuzz-rockers on an indie label, Silver Lake's Dangerbird Records, the nomination wasn't anticipated in the least. "We have never even had a fantasy about this," Aubert said. "The nod from the Grammys make us feel real warm inside. We're astonished, excited and completely humbled by it."

The band's career has been steadily on the upswing. "Lazy Eye" gained momentum when it appeared in a Volkswagen commercial in 2006, but longtime fans of the Silversuns know the song's been in live rotation since the group began playing at Spaceland in the early part of this decade.

The darkly atmospheric quartet, anchored by Aubert's vocals and guitar, with Nikki Monninger on bass, Chris Guanlao on drums and Joe Lester on synths, has enjoyed an especially auspicious 2009. "Swoon," the group's most recent album, peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard charts and sold 43,000 copies in its first release week in April, the best opening shot of the band's career.

The group also held a prime spot at this year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, appearing before Paul McCartney on one of the fest's two outdoor stages.

So does Aubert think the Pickups will win when the trophies are handed out Jan. 31 at Staples Center? "Oh, God, no," he said, adding his support for MGMT and the band's single "Kids," which was nominated for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocals. "How often does a record come along where you hear it everywhere for nearly a year and a half and you still dance like crazy to it?"

--Margaret Wappler


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Photo: Aubert performing in New Orleans in October. Credit: Sean Gardner / Getty Images