A new rock generation in The Spaces Between

From left, Liam Smith, Andrew Rubin, Jon Anderson and Noah Colton.
From left, Liam Smith, Andrew Rubin, Jon Anderson and Noah Colton.

As musical mentors go, you can’t do much better than former Yes front man and Arroyo Grande resident Jon Anderson.

“He’s had a huge influence on me, musically,” said Andrew Rubin, lead guitarist of local band The Spaces Between. “He’s helped us out from a musical standpoint, a business standpoint. He’s just a great guy.”

Anderson’s distinctive voice can be heard on The Spaces Between’s first full-length album, “Let’s Leave It At This for Now …” which comes out this month. Blind Melon vocalist Travis Warren co-produced and mixed the eight-track release.

“I wanted to surround myself with the best around locally,” explained Rubin, who has been playing and composing with Anderson since age 13. “It’s been great to be around those people that have all that experience.”

Rubin and his bandmates, bassist/singer Noah Colton and drummer Liam Smith, will celebrate the release of “Let’s Leave It At This for Now …” with a Feb. 15 concert at SLO Tracks, a new San Luis Obispo performing arts venue launched about a year ago by local folk singer Vincent Bernardy (stage name St. Vincent Folk).

Warren and St. Vincent Folk also play Feb. 15. Anderson won’t be able to attend, however; he’ll be performing in Clearwater, Fla., with Alan Parsons and the Rock Symphony Orchestra.

Teen team

The son of “Rubes” cartoonist Leigh Rubin, Nipomo resident Andrew Rubin started playing drums at age 7. Still, he “really didn’t feel a drive to pick up an instrument” until he got his first guitar at 13.

“It became a passion,” said Rubin, now 18. “I wanted to dedicate every moment to it.”

Rubin and Colton, a 20-year-old who lives in Santa Maria, teamed up in their early teens. The Nipomo High School graduates added Smith, a 17-year-old San Luis Obispo resident who attends Arroyo Grande High School, to the mix about a year ago.

“A good combination of chemistry among musicians can be a very hard thing to find,” said Rubin, describing discovering Smith as “a stroke of luck.” “It’s been magic so far.”

Influenced by funk, jazz and alternative rock, Rubin and his bandmates draw inspiration from classic rock bands such as The Beatles and Led Zeppelin as well as newer acts including Cage the Elephant, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Vampire Weekend.

“That was the first question I asked Liam: ‘What are your drumming influences?’ ” Rubin recalled. “(When he said) ‘John Bonham from Led Zeppelin and Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers,’ I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what I want to hear.’ ”

In naming The Spaces Between, Rubin said he was inspired by Miles Davis’ assertion that “music exists in the spaces between the notes.” (Any resemblance to the Dave Matthews Band song “The Space Between,” he added, is coincidental.)

The Spaces Between played its first show in November 2012 at the now-closed SLO Down Pub in Arroyo Grande. Since then, they’ve performed at the Live Oak Music Festival in northern Santa Barbara County, and at the Roxy Theatre, the Viper Room and Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles.

Collective process

When it came time to record their first album, a friend connected Rubin with Warren, who replaced the late Shannon Hoon as lead vocalist of alternative rock band Blind Melon.

“Immediately, I thought ‘Wow, this guy could really click with us,’” Rubin recalled. “Right from the get go, we knew we had chemistry with him as a producer and (him with) us as a band.”

Rubin said “Let’s Leave It At This for Now …” — named by Smith — encapsulates everything the band has spent a year working toward. Songs were written collectively, with Colton and Rubin providing lyrics and Smith playing a crucial role in instrumentation.

“The three of us will get into a room and we’ll jam for a couple hours, just totally improvising,” Rubin explained. “We’ll structure a song out of that.”

The band’s goal was “to create an album that had all the hills and valleys of the albums we loved growing up,” Rubin said, pointing to “Houses of the Holy” by Led Zeppelin and “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” by Red Hot Chili Peppers as examples.

According to Rubin, Anderson helped shape two of the tracks on “Let’s Leave It At This for Now…”: “Independence” and “Orchasm.” The prog rocker appears on the latter track, which also features Bob Liepman of San Luis Obispo folk-rock duo Bob and Wendy.

Anderson, who led Yes for more than 35 years, said he recognizes his younger self in Rubin and his bandmates.

“They’re really, really good, very excitable,” he said. “They want to make it big, like everybody.”

Luckily, Anderson said, he’s been able to share some advice with The Spaces Between.

“I told (Rubin), ‘You’ve got to keep your feet on the ground because you could actually be a world-class musician,’ ” Anderson said. “You just don’t become a star and go on TV right away. It takes time.”


The Spaces Between

3 p.m. Feb. 15

SLO Tracks, 1 Vintage Ranch Road, San Luis Obispo


215-9305 or http://the spacesbetweenband.com

Reach Sarah Linn at 781-7907. Stay updated by following @shelikestowatch on Twitter.