Four Cal Poly alumni turned rock stars have chosen to wrap up their American tour at Downtown Brewing Co. in San Luis Obispo on Thursday.
The indie pop band Sherwood was formed in 2002 while the five original members attended Cal Poly.
As students, they would advertise their shows at the University Union or local venues by writing announcements in chalk throughout the Cal Poly campus.
“Sherwood was the best band I ever saw at the University Union,” Cuesta student Corey Howe said. “My friends and I all bought their album right after the show.”
Since the members graduated in 2004 they have toured throughout America on the Vans Warped Tour, with bands such as Relient K, Motion City Soundtrack, MAE, Say Anything and most recently, Hanson. The band gained momentum after a few years of touring nationally with a “do-it-yourself attitude,” and became the first band to sign with MySpace Records in 2007.
This gave them the publicity and financial capability to release a second full-length album, “A Different Light,” and begin touring throughout the world in Japan, Germany, Amsterdam, the United Kingdom and Australia.
With an unrelenting tour schedule during the last several years, it has been difficult for the band to call any place home.
“San Luis Obispo will always be our nostalgic home,” Nate Henry, the band’s lead vocalist and bass player said. “Otherwise, our homes between touring are wherever our families or girlfriends might be.”
Founding guitarist, Chris Armstrong, left the band in 2005 and his shoes were eventually filled by Dave Provenzano. Excluding Provenzano, the band still consists of all Cal Poly alumni. Dan Koch, who plays lead guitar and sings back up vocals, and Henry, began to collaborate after meeting at an open mic in San Luis Obispo. They soon brought on fellow students Mike Leibovich to play keyboard and percussion and Joe Greenetz to play the drums.
After signing with MySpace Records it has been a little easier than chalking the concrete to get the word out. Since 2002, the band has jumped from their status as a popular college band, to an internationally touring indie pop band, which has sold out shows around the world.
“When you hear people who don’t even speak English singing your songs, there comes a point when you step back from the chaos of the music industry, and say, ‘Wow, look what we did,’” Henry said.
Sherwood, to date, has released five EP’s and three full-length albums. Their first album, “Sing But Keep Going,” was released under Sidecho Records and has sold over 20,000 copies and their second, released with MySpace Records, has sold more than 40,000 copies. In 2009, they finished their third full-length album “QU,” which was produced in collaboration with Brad Wood, who has produced The Smashing Pumpkins and Sunny Day Real Estate.
Henry admits it has become much more difficult to survive in the music industry in the last few years.
“Music has gone from having like three outlets, to about 7 million,” Henry said. “It has all become so incredibly over-saturated. Bands must evolve to survive in the industry now, because people just aren’t supporting music like they used to.”
Sherwood’s latest album is an evolution from their prior records. It is deeper, darker and more serious. The album is ironic, as it deals with heavier topics such as divorce, midlife crisis and apathy, yet retains the bands upbeat and fun California vibe.
“We wanted to evolve, but if we change our sound too much, we’ll change our name,” Henry said. “We have to stay loyal to the sound our fans want, yet we also want to create music that will stay relevant 10 years from now.”
Though famous musicians like Matt Ward and “Weird Al” Yankovic have come out of Cal Poly, KCPR disc jockey Ross Berger said Sherwood is arguably the most successful band to come out San Luis Obispo.
“In my opinion, Sherwood is definitely the most popular, collaborative band to have come out of Cal Poly,” Berger said.
After its show at Downtown Brew, Sherwood will take a break from touring for a while and focus on compiling songs for their fourth full-length album.
The concert starts at 6:30 p.m. and tickets for the all-ages concert can be purchased for $14 at the door or $13 in advance at TicketWeb.com, Boo Boo Records or Downtown Brew’s box office.