As singer-guitarist Joe Keefe recalls, he and his singing-drumming brother Sebastian tried every last possible avenue to success with their last two hard-rock outfits, Unbusted and The Billionaires. They even moved from Boston to Hollywood, hoping to get noticed at in-spots like the Viper Room.
Ultimately, they opted for a road decidedly less traveled. They simply gave up on music entirely, for 12 months. Then, and only then, did they hit paydirt with a new band — and a charming, chiming new sound — as Family of the Year.
The year off proved crucial to the siblings.
"I was planning on having it be five years, I was so sick of playing music and having to deal with everybody in a band," says Keefe, 30, who brings his quartet to The City on Wednesday.
"Even something simple like rehearsing; I was just tired of it. So Sebastian took a job as an off-screen carpenter for HGTV shows, and I did all the things that I hadn’t really done, that I needed to get out of my system. For the first time, I didn’t have a band, didn’t have a girlfriend, so I, uh, went a little crazy and partied a lot."
Keefe worked for an artist chum, stretching canvases and printmaking. He gave up his apartment and lived out of a backpack, crashing on random couches.
"My boss took me under his wing, and he and I just kind of drove around L.A. in his Jag," he says. "So I had a really crazy year, meeting all kinds of crazy people."
Out clubbing one night, he bumped into keyboardist Christina Schroeter, and wound up dating — then writing and recording with — her friend Vanessa Long. Their sugary experiments as a duo brought him back to music full-time again.
Although Keefe and Long would part ways, both romantically and musically, their Partridge Family-ish concept survived.
Keefe was permanently joined by his brother, plus Schroeter and guitarist James Buckey, who all share the mic on the surf-splashy harmonies of Family’s recent EP, "St. Croix," and delightful new full-length, "Loma Vista," which was written and recorded while the members all were living together in Silver Lake on a street called Loma Vista.
Now Keefe has mastered irony — as in his deceptively sunny singalong "The Stairs," about a real-life, noise-despising neighbor who left long, angry letters on the band’s doorstep. Keefe thanks his sabbatical for the skill.
"For a year, I didn’t have any parameters, musically, no constraints," he says. "I’d been writing for a band for so long, I finally broke away from that and learned about recording by myself."
IF YOU GO
Family of the Year
Where: Brick and Mortar Music Hall,
1710 Mission St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Contact: (415) 371-1631;