Beams of sunlight pour through Kreuzberg, CA as the day escapes into the evening. Guests trickle in and out of the muraled café, with the majority of customers ordering cold beverages to counter the day’s lingering heat. Students and locals fill the worn, velvet and wooden chairs, sipping Italian soda between bites of dishes named after literary figures.
In one corner of the café, a quartet huddles around a wooden table coated in chipped, Dodger-blue paint. The room’s energy stems almost entirely from the personalities of the carefree foursome: Michael Leibovich, David Provenzano, Beth Clements and Sarah Shotwell.
Together, they are local indie-pop band Fialta.
Two years after the release of EP “3P,” the band will release its first full-length album “Summer Winter” locally on June 21 and nationally on July 23.
“I feel, in a real way, it’s like this collection of songs that might feel like they’re inspired from summer and winter,” Clements said of the 12-song record.
Fialta’s music is a sunshine-filled concoction: a spoonful of Ingrid Michaelson, a sprinkle of The Weepies and a dash of She & Him.
The band’s music and spirit is both uplifting and contagious through a unique blend of instruments — such as the ukelele — and alternating lead vocals. The band’s lyrics are inspired by literature and poems, though personal experiences find their way in as well.
“Musically speaking, it tends to be a lot brighter and happier,” the red-haired Provenzano said. “(It’s a) representation of Central California and the Central Coast.”
The band members have roots in places such as Connecticut and the Pacific Northwest, but they have come to call San Luis Obispo home.
Though Cal Poly graduates Leibovich and Shotwell met in 2003, it wasn’t until 2011 that the foursome began collaborating long distance online. At the time, Leibovich and Provenzano were on tour as members of then-local indie rock band Sherwood.
When Sherwood broke up, Leibovich had doubts about his future in music, but they didn’t last long.
“You can’t stop,” Leibovich said. “It’s sort of like when it’s in your blood … when you feel like you were kind of made to be musical, it’s really hard not to be.”
Leibovich continued his music career, but this time with Fialta.
“I think we all kind of wanted to be writing a different kind of music than we were currently involved in,” the tall, blond Clements said. “When these two guys (Leibovich and Provenzano) started writing … I know for me personally, it felt so right what they were writing and it resonated with me.”
Leibovich, Provenzano, Clements and Shotwell then began making music over the Internet.
And so, Fialta was born.
The band’s name was lifted from Vladimir Nabokov’s short story, “Spring in Fialta.” The story, which calls into question love, reality and idealization, follows a man’s visit to a fictional Mediterranean town, where he encounters an elusive woman.
“We really feel like our music feels like it’s from San Luis Obispo,” Clements said. “When you hear it, it sounds like it’s from here. We love this place. Fialta in its own way is kind of representative of San Luis Obispo.”
A tight-knit group
Though the four are a band, in many ways, they’re also a family. They live a mere three blocks apart.
“We do everything together, inside and outside of music,” Shotwell said. “Having that close of a connection and that level of trust has really helped us commit to this project.”
The quartet’s closeness is undeniable, as witnessed through the members’ playful banter.
But the members of Fialta are not just close friends; they’re married — to each other: Leibovich and Clements, Provenzano and Shotwell.
“It’s not really something that we particularly think is like this huge deal as part of our identity,” Clements said. “If we weren’t married, I’d still feel just as honored to be in a band with every one of these people. I think we personally like that as individuals, we all stand on our own as musicians.”
Though they are married, the four were a band first and foremost.
Just the beginning
Fialta’s first show as a band was in Santa Cruz during the summer of 2011, having just released “3P.”
It was a rocky start.
Clements was dealing with a vocal chord injury and at the last minute, the band’s bassist wasn’t able to play. Luckily, the band was able to reach a friend who learned all of the songs the morning of the show.
“He ended up pulling it off, but it was a little bit hectic since it was our first show, having like a totally new person thrown into the mix, but he did great,” Shotwell said. “We figured it out and the show was really fun.”
Little did the band know, two years later, its song “Summer Winter” would be featured in a spring Kmart trampoline commercial.
Leibovich received a call at 7 a.m. one day from the company creating the commercial, asking for paperwork in order to move forward with the use of the song.
“I love it,” Clements said. “It’s just like this ukelele riff in the background of the commercial. It’s just really cool to hear it.”
Along with the excitement that comes with hearing its song in a commercial, the opportunity has also helped the band financially.
“The commercial itself is super random, but it’s basically allowed us to self-release our album, which is awesome,” Shotwell said. “We have complete control over our creative process and it’s such a gift to have the amount of flexibility that we have.”
As an unsigned band, Fialta has free rein over the music it wants to produce — something the band values with each member bringing a unique element to the table.
Whereas Shotwell finds songwriting inspiration from books and poems, Leibovich discovers new ideas while running.
Provenzano, on the other hand, is inspired by the J.Crew summer catalog, Shotwell said with a smile.
The peppy, aqua-shirted Provenzano agreed.
“I think I just strive to really write stuff that is upbeat and believable and kind of evokes more of just happy endings,” he said. “I know that sounds kind of funny or cheesy.”
The band’s chemistry has been well-received by locals — the members have been told their music sounds like getting a hug while it has others recalling old loves and past relationships.
“There’s definitely a nostalgic quality to it,” Shotwell said. “We want people to feel engaged in what we’re doing.”
Though Leibovich said, for him personally, he wants the band to put out music without over-thinking how it will be received.
Soon enough, the band will have more music for the public to hear.
Fialta will launch “Summer Winter” with an album release show at Kreuzberg, CA on June 21 at 9 p.m.
“I’m really proud of our album,” Clements said. “I listen to it and I don’t regret a part of it.”
Not only is the band proud of the final product, but also of the road to get there.
“We looked to record locally and we just said, ‘You know, we have a vision for like a caliber of quality we really want to hit,’ and we kind of stuck to that,” Leibovich said in his glasses and pin-striped button-up.
Producer, engineer and mixer Rob Ernst recorded the band’s album at Noise Root Studio in San Jose.
“(They’re) very fun and enjoyable people (who) really like making music and making music with one another,” Ernst said. “(They) don’t take themselves seriously, they like to have fun with it.”
This mentality translates into the band’s live performances.
“You can also just tell the chemistry between the members and how they relate to one another and just enjoy making music together and having a really fun time,” he said.
“Summer Winter” is mostly comprised of upbeat tunes along with some more mid-tempo songs.
“We envision this as being a great summer record for 2013 and being a record that people will just enjoy listening to during this fun season,” Shotwell said.
As a local band, Fialta recognizes the talent on the Central Coast, though the band is distinguished through its indie-pop, sun-filled tunes.
“Ultimately, we want to get huge and be on a record label and tour the world,” Leibovich said. “Starting the band in San Luis Obispo was like a huge launch for us because people here are just so supportive and are so thirsty for art.”
With the album release within reach, Fialta is looking forward to the future.
“We have really high hopes and we’re willing to work extremely hard, but we’d love to just sustain our project for the long term,” Shotwell said. “I don’t think any of us are going anywhere anytime soon.”
Fialta currently has a free four-song sampler from the new album on NoiseTrade, and “3P” is available on iTunes. Tickets for the album release show are available online for $12 and $15 at the door. The ticket price includes a copy of the band’s album and a free drink courtesy of Kreuzberg, CA. Local indie duo The Honey Trees will also play at the event.