Band pays homage to Central Coast with song for SLO

slinn@thetribunenews.comSeptember 15, 2013 

Quiet Life band members, from left, Sean Spellman, Craig Rupert, Ryan Spellman and Thor Robert Jensen. The group has an album coming out Oct. 29 that features a song titled ‘San Luis Obispo.’

COURTESY PHOTO

In their new summery song “San Luis Obispo,” the Portland, Ore.-based folk-rock band Quiet Life celebrates its favorite California city.

“I think about San Luis Obispo all the time,” Quiet Life lead singer/guitarist Sean Spellman said, praising the city’s mellow vibe and peaceful, pastoral setting. 

“San Luis Obispo” appears on Quiet Life’s sophomore album, “Wild Pack,” which comes out
Oct. 29 via Mama Bird Recording Co. It’s already garnering attention from the likes of entertainment website The A.V. Club.

Spellman, who was born in New London, Conn., and raised in New Jersey, discovered the Central Coast five or six years ago on a weeklong trip to California.

While in Santa Barbara, a brewery worker told him, “ ‘You’ve got to go to San Luis Obispo. It’s like Santa Barbara 25 years ago,’ ” recalled Spellman, who visited San Luis Obispo during Thursday night Farmers Market and “fell in love with it.”

A month later, he and his then-girlfriend moved to San Luis Obispo.

“I wanted to live somewhere that was beautiful where I didn’t know a single person,” explained Spellman, who then persuaded his bandmates to leave the East Coast. They shared a two-bedroom house on Pismo Street for about a year.

Living there, “I felt like I could live the surf lifestyle but also be in the country, which is perfect,” said Spellman, who worked at a ranch outside Morro Bay.

Quiet Life eventually left San Luis Obispo for professional reasons, living in Los Angeles before settling in Portland. (The band’s original bass player, Paul “Cream Cheese” Dutton, stayed in town and joined local folk-rock group Sparrows Gate, he said.)

Still, Spellman said, the Central Coast remained on his mind.

“I was like, ‘Man, I really wanted to write a song about San Luis Obispo, but it’s so hard to put those words into song,’ ” he said, until he came up with the upbeat, country-flavored tune for “San Luis Obispo.” “It’s been one of our most popular songs.”

The music video for “San Luis Obispo,” shot in May 2012, finds Spellman and his bandmates — which include his brother, Ryan Spellman, on drums, Thor Robert Jensen and Craig Rupert on guitar, Jesse Bates on bass and Philippe Bronchtein on piano and organ — driving through downtown San Luis Obispo, making music in Mitchell Park and watching the waves in Pismo Beach. (And, yes, one of them is munching a burrito from local eatery Tonita’s Mexican Food.)

Part of the video was shot at the rural San Luis Obispo ranch belonging to LavenderSmiths owners Finney and Stacy Smith, Sean Spellman said, while their Volkswagen van was provided by San Luis Obispo repair shop Broad Street Automotive.

Normally, the band, which has toured with Alabama Shakes, Dr. Dog and The Lumineers, travels in a 2002 Ford E-350 van that runs on biodiesel.

Although the band isn’t planning a Central Coast tour stop at this point, Spellman said he’d love for “San Luis Obispo” to gain a local following.

“I really want to push this song in San Luis Obispo,” he said, adding that radio listeners can request “San Luis Obispo” on KPIG-FM, broadcast locally at 94.9. “I just want as many people around there as possible to hear it.”

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