"ONE WEEK I thought I was going to be in LA for a while, then I found myself driving to Portland," says Sean Spellman with a hint of relief.
Spellman and his band, Quiet Life, are no strangers to nomadic life. The group came to town from New London, Connecticut, by way of a short stint on California's Central Coast, before finally making themselves at home in the Pacific Northwest at the end of 2009. Fortunately for everyone involved, Los Angeles ended up being only a bump in the road.
All of those logged miles come into focus on Quiet Life's latest LP Big Green, a road-trip-ready album that conjures up images of fruited plains and purple mountain majesties through the open windows of an old pickup truck. And while all signs point to the sounds of our Canadian neighbors to the north in the Band, it was actually Spellman and his brother Ryan's New Jersey upbringing that shaped their musical tastes. "Born to Run is one of the first records I could identify," Spellman explains, pointing to the Holy Grail of their father's record collection.
Quiet Life released their debut Act Natural in early 2008, a breezy twanger that found Spellman going straight to the heart of Nashville. The band ups the energy on Big Green, which was recorded back home in Connecticut in just three days. Guitars crackle over harmonies that go down like a cold glass of sweet tea, while Spellman delivers hazy snapshots of weddings and downed cold ones alongside friends.
"I'm not a very good storyteller—that's the in-joke with the band," he says. "If I try to tell a story in a song it never turns out the way I want." Spellman instead goes for life in the moment, which coincidentally tends to be how the band operates. Especially on the stage, which has become the band's bread and butter.
"Quiet Life isn't going to be on Pitchfork or on blogs," says Spellman. "We're a band that just keeps playing—one show 15 people will show up, the next there might be 30."