When Sean Spellman of Quiet Life first moved to California from New Jersey, he wanted nothing to do with the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.
“My only requirements for living in the new town were that it was semi-rural and that I didn’t know a single person who lived there,” the singer-guitarist tells CMT Edge. “I wanted to start fresh. That’s how I decided to stay in San Luis Obispo. When I arrived I found a laid-back community of farmers, artists, surfers and the occasional belligerent Cal Poly student.”
The Quiet Life’s song and video for “San Luis Obispo” serves as a postcard and love letter at the same time. Framing ocean-side swagger in harmonica riffs, steel guitar and a propulsive beat, the song gives off a best-summer-ever feeling right away.
“The landscape of the central coast of California blew my mind,” says Spellman. “We were constantly in awe of the California lifestyle — the ease of it, pace of life and just the general nature of people who are from that area. You know, eating burritos, checking the surf, messin’ around on the ranch. The good life.”
Still, though, how do you fit the words “San Luis Obispo” into a song?
“Seemed like it couldn’t be done,” Spellman admits. “So I took some clues from someone I knew could write a song about anything — Woody Guthrie. I listened to a bunch of the songs he wrote for the Department of the Interior in the ‘40s about the Columbia River. I took the ‘O’ off of ‘Obispo’ and it just rolled from there. It was originally a really stripped-down tune with banjo and harmonica, but once we plugged in and added some distorted lap steel guitar, it took a life of its own.”
Quiet Life’s new album, Wild Pack, arrives Oct. 29. Check out their sun-dappled video for “San Luis Obispo.”