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Interview: Silversun Pickups discuss dancing, helicopter rides, and Carrie Underwood
Credit: Dangerbird Records

Interview: Silversun Pickups discuss dancing, helicopter rides, and Carrie Underwood

Latest album, 'Neck of the Woods' brings a new groove to band's sound

There’s not a lot in Silversun Pickups’ swirling, heavy music to indicate the Los Angeles  alternative rock band’s four members enjoy busting a move, but it turns out they do — often resulting in collateral damage.

“We love to have dance parties,” says drummer Christopher Guanlao. “When we’re on the road, one of the things to kill the boredom is to have a dance party on the bus. A lot of the times, they’re impromptu, but they go off. We’ve broken tables, lighting fixtures...Luckily our techs are amazing and fix it before we have to return the bus.”

Some of those dance vibes found their way onto SSPU’s third full-length album, “Neck of the Woods,” which came out Tuesday.  The album looks like it could debut in the top 5on the Billboard 200, making it the band’s highest charting set yet, topping 2009’s “Swoon,” which bowed at No. 7.

While the songs, including first single “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings),” are instantly recognizable as SSPU, there’s an added groove that is fully deliberate, whether on the propulsive, insistent blast of opening track “Skin Graph,” the machine-gun rat-a-tat on “Out of Breath,” or full-on dance tune  “The Pit.”  “We definitely wanted to have more of a groove to the songs,” Guanlao says. “For me, it was really fun to actually do it; to step away from the rock drumming for a bit and get into a groove” on some of the tracks.

In fact, Guanlao was kept very busy on the album, so much so that he’s still figuring out how to replicate the songs live. “There’s definitely a lot more drumming involved on this one and a lot more percussive drumming,” he says. “This was the first time I played a shaker on a song. I did a lot of drum stuff, extra drum rolls, extra drum accents, that goes throughout the songs. It definitely feels like there’s a lot more going on. It gets tricky when you think about it in the live aspect: All of a sudden I realize if I only had that extra arm, I could do everything perfectly.”

For “Neck Of the Woods,” the band, which also includes vocalist/guitarist Brian Aubert, bassist/background vocalist Nikki Monniger and keyboardist Joseph Lester— switched to a new producer, Jacknife Lee, best known for his work with R.E.M., Snow Patrol and Weezer.

“He took out a lot of the fat,” Guanlao says. “If we didn’t have Jacknife around, we might have been going into the prog rock world. We tend to kind of write a lot of parts for songs and I think it worked well with ‘Swoon,’ but we definitely didn’t want to continue in that route. We’d give him a song that had six or seven changes and he’d say we only need three or four and he was right. We didn’t need two choruses in a song, we need one good one.”

For a brief time after the album’s release on Tuesday, it was No. 1 on iTunes album chart, a moment captured by one of the group’s managers, who took a screen shot and sent it to the band. “I was like, that‘s crazy!,” Guanlao. “I was kind of saying, What a bizarre world where we’re above Carrie Underwood. It’s great. The support that we’ve gotten from all our fans, it means the world to us. That’s why I do it.”

The band remains signed to Los Angeles indie Dangerbird Records, long after majors came calling following the group’s success with “Swoon.”  Aubert recently told Billboard that there was nothing a major label could do for them, except, as he joked, offer them a helicopter ride.

Which, quite frankly, sounds pretty sweet to Guanlao. “I read that article, and I was like, ‘I want a helicopter ride...I don’t know what he’s talking about, that’s kind of cool’,” he says laughing. “It you put that on the offer, that’s something to consider, though it’s not a yacht.”

Seriously, Guanlao agrees with Aubert. “He’s absolutely right. What can a major label give us right now? The days of huge signing advances that you could live off for the rest of your life are gone and we wouldn’t really want to do that anyway. We’re happy where we are.”

SSPU’s touring dance card is full through the rest of the year, a prospect that intimidated Guanlao until the band nailed the songs on “Neck” live. “Two months ago, when we didn’t know how to play the songs, that’s daunting. Now, it’s like, ‘let’s bring it on!’”

Plus, Guanlao already has some ideas for early 2013. The Los Angeles Lakers fan is a basketball junkie who recently “freaked out” when he met the Orlando Magic’s JJ Redick, especially because Redick is a huge fan of SSPU’s and had even tweeted about listening to the band’s song, “Royal We,” to get pumped up before a game.

Guanlao shared his love for the Lakers with ESPN, hoping it might bring him a little love from his team. I [tweeted] the ESPN [article] to the Lakers, like, ‘Hey, check it out! If you have some tickets.. Do you need a mascot?” He’s heard nothing so far.

Hey Lakers, we hear he may have some spare time after December. 

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<p>Bella Heathcoate and Chloe Moretz share a laugh at the 'Dark Shadows' press day</p>

Bella Heathcoate and Chloe Moretz share a laugh at the 'Dark Shadows' press day

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Chloe Moretz and Bella Heathcote share laughs and 'Dark Shadows' secrets

See how we made Moretz laugh so hard she almost couldn't continue

Any time I want to feel really old, all I need to do is spend some time with Chloe Grace Moretz.

Watching her prowl through "Dark Shadows" playing a character who is just on the verge of adulthood, it struck me how far she's come in what seems like just a few short years since I first met her.  The first time we spoke, she had on a purple wig and was doing backflips out of a window as she was shot repeatedly in the chest for about 20 takes in a row.  It was on the set of "Kick-Ass," and as I spent the next few days watching her work with Nicholas Cage, I was struck by how incredibly focused and self-aware she was, and how important her on-set support system of her mother and her brother were to keeping her protected.  After all, "Kick-Ass" was fairly rowdy material, and even actors older than her might balk at some of what she was asked to do in the film.

Not Chloe, though.  She has this ability to throw herself into the work she's doing completely, and a truly adult understanding of the things she's being asked to do.  When I saw her the next time, it was for the Comic-Con panel on "Let Me In," and it was interesting to see her spend time with Kodi Smit-McPhee, her co-star in the film.  He struck me as much younger than her, emotionally, and when they were together, she suddenly seemed much more like a kid.  In those moments she was away from him and talking, that adult sensibility would drop back into place, and that contradiction seems to sum up what it is that makes Chloe so interesting on film.

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<p>Phillip Phillips of &quot;American Idol</p>

Phillip Phillips of "American Idol

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Top 4 Results - Down to the Final 3

Would Phillip, Hollie, Jessica or Joshua be going home next?

It's time for another pulse-racing installment of "American Idol," kids!

Or at least it's time to twiddle our thumbs for 50 minutes and then wonder if a shocker is in store. Click through and follow the twiddling as it progresses.

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<p>Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund in &quot;On the Road.&quot;</p>

Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund in "On the Road."

Credit: IFC/Sundance Selects

IFC Films and Sundance Selects ready 'On the Road' for the journey

The long-gestating adaptation is adopted ahead of its Cannes premiere

The Cannes Film Festival unveiled its screening schedule today, and I'm both pleased and surprised to see that this year's edition is playing the long game. While it's often the case that most of the big-ticket premieres are spilled in the early stages of the fest, this year's programmers have stored up a number of the lineup's most eagerly-awaited English-language titles for the closing days: Jeff Nichols' "Mud" unspools on the last day of Competition, David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" on the penultimate day, and Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy" one day before that.

It's a pointed rejoinder to the many American journalists (HitFix's own Drew McWeeny among them) who have already planned to leave town days before the festival finishes, countering the accepted wisdom that the festival peters out toward the end. As in 2008, when "The Class" was the final Competition film screened and took many off-guard by winning the Palme d'Or, the message appears to be that, at Cannes, every day counts.

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<p>The &quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;study group will be back for a fourth season.</p>

The "Community" study group will be back for a fourth season.

Credit: NBC

NBC renews 'Community' for season 4

13 episode order won't necessarily be the end of the Greendale Human Beings

Pop. Pop. "Community" is coming back for a fourth season.

A source close to production has confirmed that NBC has ordered 13 episodes of the low-rated critical darling. Unlike the "30 Rock" final season renewal, as far as I know this is not officially the final order for the show. It's entirely possible "Community" could get a back 9 order next season or even, miracle of miracles, a fifth season. Unlike the aging, expensive "30 Rock," it makes no sense for NBC to cut off its options with "Community" before it has to. While I'd say it's probable that these 13 will be it for Jeff, Britta, Troy, Abed, Annie, Shirley, Pierce and company — and would allow the show to roughly mirror the four-year college experience — stranger things have happened at NBC in recent years (like five seasons of "Chuck"). Six seasons and a movie is still vaguely in play.

And while you celebrate this news, you can not only watch tonight's episode, but once again enjoy some furry fun with Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown and Jim Rash:

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<p>A friend sits with R. Kelly in &quot;It's On&quot;</p>
<br />

A friend sits with R. Kelly in "It's On"

Here's another R. Kelly video, for 'It's On'

Spoiler: it's there's strippers

The premise for R. Kelly's last music video "Share My Love" is essentially: Kels is surrounded by girls with big boobs and small waists in evening dresses and everybody's super impressed. This time, for "It's On" featuring DJ Khaled and Ace Hood, it's about the same, only the girls are strippers.

I know this is challenging stuff. I hope your shoes are tied.

In one of the most boring refrains ever uttered by the otherworldly Kelly, the R&B singer tells us it's "on on on on on on on on on." He then bottles that boredom, and saves it for when a particularly lovely lady's ass is hanging all over his face and he kinda spaces out like, "Oh, her?, it's like whatever." Alcohol music is right.

The best part is when Khaled reminds the listener at the very end that he cooked this beat by poking his silly face into the frame for about 10 milliseconds.

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<p>You do not want Jimmy Pistol all up in your grill.&nbsp; Trust me on this.</p>

You do not want Jimmy Pistol all up in your grill.  Trust me on this.

Credit: Screen Media Films

Interview: Writer/director/star Matt D'Elia talks about his 'American Animal'

A freewheeling conversation with a captivating new talent

Here's what I wrote when I saw the film "American Animal" at SXSW about a year ago:

Take "American Animal," for example, a film by Matt D'Elia.  I am shocked that the film is not the culmination of a long-running stage production that someone decided to adapt for film, because that's what it feels like.  It is a relatively intimate affair, with only four actors and one main set, and it has that sort of ebb and flow rhythm that is common to stage productions.  Jimmy (D'Elia) and James (Brendan Fletcher) live together, and their primary activity seems to be avoiding any and all productive actions.  They invite over a couple of girls, Blonde Angela (Mircea Monroe) and Not Blonde Angela (Angela Sarafyan), and at first, it's like we're watching this weird hybrid of a drugged-up party and a performance art piece.  But there are secrets simmering just below the surface for both of the guys, and over the course of a very, very long evening, we get a glimpse at the harsh realities that they're both hiding from.

D'Elia is an intense screen presence, and serving triple-duty as writer, director, and lead actor is one of those things that can easily overwhelm a young filmmaker.  Not a problem here.  Jimmy is always on, larger than life, slipping from one persona to another, and it's all an act designed to hide a fear of impending mortality, and there is a point to the outrageous behavior.  There is a sadness beneath the mania, and D'Elia never crosses the line into making the character impossible to like.  He just skates on that line really carefully.  Fletcher makes a perfect fencing partner for D'Elia, as does the strikingly lovely Sarafyan, who seems unimpressed by Jimmy's aggressive eccentricity.  What I love is how the film doesn't excuse Jimmy's actions, but it does explain them, and we're allowed to have our own reactions, good or bad.  D'Elia goes through a radical physical transformation in the film, and it's just one expression of how committed the entire thing feels.  This is what I want from indie filmmakers… personal visions that are uncompromising, films where you can feel the passion, movies that had to be made.  "American Animal" deserves to be seen, but more than that, it deserves to launch D'Elia as a filmmaker of note, and I'm curious to see where he goes from here.

A year has passed since I wrote that, and the film is about to finally get a release to theaters.  You'll get a chance to see it.  And I'm curious to see what people make of it.  To help give the film some attention as it attempts to compete in a marketplace where "The Avengers" is apparently grossing $100 million every six hours or some such madness, I thought it would be nice to have D'Elia out to the house to talk about the film he made, the films he draws inspiration from, and the films he hopes to make in the future.

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<p>Tina Fey and company will be back for one final season of &quot;30 Rock.&quot;</p>

Tina Fey and company will be back for one final season of "30 Rock."

Credit: NBC

NBC renews '30 Rock' for seventh and final season

Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and company will get a 13-episode victory lap

Still more news from the NBC bubble: "30 Rock" has been renewed for a seventh and final season of 13 episodes, to premiere sometime next season.

There's been speculation that several of NBC's Thursday comedies would get this treatment, but it made the most sense for "30 Rock," which is an older, more expensive show and has never done all that well in the ratings. Tina Fey has said publicly that she understands NBC can't keep financing her cult comedy in perpetuity, but that she'd like some kind of warning when the end is coming so she can write to it.

Now she knows, and now Alec Baldwin can stop predicting the end of the show every three months, because we know when it's actually coming.

My reaction to this news can be summed up in one word: BANJO!

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<p>Peter Krause and the rest of the &quot;Parenthood&quot;&nbsp;cast has good reason to smile after the renewal came in from NBC.</p>

Peter Krause and the rest of the "Parenthood" cast has good reason to smile after the renewal came in from NBC.

Credit: NBC

NBC renews 'Parenthood' for season 4

Family drama gets to come off the bubble

It sounds like most, if not all, of NBC's bubble shows may have their fates decided today. Amid the flurry of rumor and speculation, there's one fact I can comfortably report: "Parenthoodhas been renewed for a fourth season.

The story was first reported by TVLine, and confirmed to me by "Parenthood" executive producer Jason Katims. Katims said he had no details on how many episodes had been ordered, or anything else, but we know that the Braverman family will be back sometime next season.

RELATED: NBC renews "30 Rock" for seventh and final season

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<p>Kylie Minogue in England last month</p>

Kylie Minogue in England last month

Credit: AP Photo

Kylie Minogue 'Best Of' heading Stateside, Black Sabbath plots another

What's the word on Sabbath's disintegrating reunion?

There's seemingly never a good or bad time to release a "Best Of" compilation -- whether you're mid-career, at the end or done with it -- so here's some news on hits collections from Kylie Minogue and Black Sabbath.

The Australian pop singer is releasing "The Best of Kylie Minogue," a 21-song comp, on June 19 in the U.S. It contains predictable hits and songs from throughout her dozen-album career. Tracklist below.

Minogue celebrated her 25th annivesary in the biz last year by touring, releasing a CD/DVD from that tour and performing off her rarities in Oz.

As for Sabbath, the band may not be in the greatest shape for their reunion gigs in England over these next few weeks, but they aren't letting the opportunity to re-hock their wares get away from them. Their umpteenth greatest hits collection "Iron Man: The Best of Black Sabbath" will be out on June 4 in the U.K., according to NME, though no word yet when and if it will arrive Stateside. Tracklist below.

So what's the deal with that whole "original lineup" thing? Sabbath are scheduled to play the O2 Academy in Birmingham, England on May 19 and at the Download Festival in Donington Park, England over the weekend of June 8-10. Tony Iommi, who is suffering lymphoma, will play those. But he will not be performing the other tour dates over the summer, and those are now dubbed Ozzy & Friends, featuring Geezer Butler, Zakk Wylde and Slash. The only Sabbath show in American skedded is at Lollapalooza, and there's no official statement as to whether or not Iommi will perform there.

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<p>The whole &quot;Cougar Town&quot;&nbsp;gang &mdash; including Courteney Cox, Big Carl and, yes, Josh Hopkins &mdash; will be moving from ABC&nbsp;to TBS next year.</p>

The whole "Cougar Town" gang — including Courteney Cox, Big Carl and, yes, Josh Hopkins — will be moving from ABC to TBS next year.

Credit: ABC

Interview: 'Cougar Town' co-creator Kevin Biegel on TBS move

'TBS wants to keep making the show we've been making' on ABC

How would "Cougar Town" co-creator Kevin Biegel sum up the news that TBS has picked up a fourth season of the sitcom after ABC decided not to renew it?

"It feels a little like a prisoner on his way to executioner being told, 'Okay, the governor says you're not going to be executed, and you get to go free, and you get a Corvette and a steak dinner, too."

I spoke briefly with Biegel about how quickly the deal came together, what, if any, changes "Cougar Town" fans can expect to see to the show when it makes its TBS debut, and more.

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<p>&nbsp;Alanis Morissette</p>

 Alanis Morissette

Listen: Alanis Morissette's first single in four years, 'Guardian'

She wants to be your 'angel on call'

Here’s the good news for Alanis Morissette fans: she has lost none of her earnestness. On her first new single in four years, “Guardian,” she positions herself at the front gate of your heart to protect and shield you.

Other than that, I don’t have a clue as to what the song is about.

The chorus, taken by itself, independent of the verses,  seems tailor-made for the new mom, who vows to watch over her beloved forever. “I’ll be your keeper for life as your guardian...I’ll be your angel on call... the greatest honor of all as your guardian.”

[More after the jump...]

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