5 questions with Sean Spellman
Home from the hills, the rock dudes!
The Americana band Quiet Life - bred in New London and Waterford but based for years now in Portland, Ore. - is back for a show tonight in the Hygienic Art Park, rain or shine. Area acts GraveRobbers and Elison Jackson open the show.
Generally speaking, Quiet Life returns to Connecticut once or twice a year as their heavy and expansive touring schedules permit. The original core group remains, including Sean Spellman (vocals/guitars), brother Ryan Spellman (drums) and Craig Rupert (guitar/vocals).
It probably makes sense to note that after increasingly high-profile support roles on tours with the likes of Dr. Dog, Alabama Shakes and the Lumineers, Quiet Life has (quietly) moved into larger and larger venues as headliners - including, for example, local transitions from early gigs at the intimate Oasis Pub to Saturday's Art Park show.
Of course, steady road work can sometimes make it difficult to concentrate on studio projects. In that context, while it's been a few years since Quiet Life released an album, they've been hard at work on one - and a release now seems sooner rather than later.
As the band made its way east from Portland, Sean Spellman took a few minutes to answer some questions via email.
Q. It's been a few years now since y'all relocated from southeastern Connecticut. How have your goals and expectations evolved over the course of national tours and experiencing real life in the music biz?
A. Goals have been reached, and our expectations are getting higher. We want to play at the Garde the next time we are in town. We want to go to places we've never been before. We went to Alaska for a second time this year. We didn't think it could get better than the first time - but then we played at Denali National Park in a crooked old bar for two nights. It was wild.
Real life in the music biz is a drag, by the way. I think Hunter S. Thompson has a good quote about that.
(Editor's note: Spellman is probably referring to a famous Thompson line from "Generation of Swine," which was actually about television. Over time, the quote has been appropriated by musicians. It is: "The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.")
Q. What's the status of the new album, both recording-wise and in terms of the label search?
A. The record, which will be called 'Wild Pack,' is getting re-mastered by Joe Gastwirt at the end of the month. He remastered the entire Grateful Dead catalogue, as well as all of the Jimi Hendrix stuff. He's an old New Yorker who lives in LA now.
Q. I assume that's a guy with some stories to tell.
A. I went to his house one time, and he played me some unreleased demo tapes straight off the original reels of Jimi in his apartment in the '60s. Apparently only a dozen or so people have ever heard it - or so Joe says. He also played me some far out Jerry Garcia stuff, too. Blew my mind. After the record is remastered, we will decide on a label.
Q. You guys enjoy living in a town with a vibrant musical community. Plus, over the years, you've worked with a lot of musicians you've met on the road. The result is that, while the core members of QL remain, y'all also have been known to hit the road from time to time with guest musicians. Who's in the band on this tour?
A. "For this runaround, it'll be me, Ryan and Craig along with (New London native) Thor Jensen on guitar/bass and Jesse Bates playing steel and bass."
Q. Any other thoughts or news we should know about?
A. "We are going to Europe for the first time! (Details are still being worked out.) Oh, and, as always, it might be worth mentioning that we run our van on waste veggie oil."
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