Landon Milbourn, Brandon Qualkenbush, Tyler Baker
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
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Straight up rock & roll isn’t dead, it’s just returned to the fringes and outskirts where it can find its organic roots all over again. Goodbye June understands all that: cousins who came together to cope with the death of lead guitarist Tyler Baker’s brother. That thrash, slash, churn, burn rages through grief as their catharsis fuels every note they play.
“I came to the band as a coping mechanism,” Tyler Baker admits. “I was gonna be an engineer or accountant, but when he passed, it was a light switch. I’d always loved music, and I realized life is now – and you better live it. That’s what pushed us together, and the grief is what we were all trying to get out.”
For the trio, the death may’ve been a fulcrum moment; but it was more than grief the trio was trying to exorcise. Beyond the obvious loss, the church-raised extended family members were also trying to reckon with their own background.
“It was a grieving process, really,” Brandon Qualkenbush acknowledges, “especially for me and Landon. But it was so much more. It was a rebellion of sorts, an unraveling of a lot of things and layers we’d grown up believing. It comes down to, do we believe in some thing? No one really knows…”
“At this point,” Milbourn picks up without missing a beat, “our faith is in our music and our lifestyle.”
“Yeah,” adds Tyler Baker, “we want to be as loud and as raw and as dirty as we can be. When you hear us live, we want you to hear all of it – the living and the struggle, the guitar parts and the passion.”
Passion is something there’s no shortage of with Goodbye June. Raised in West Tennessee and Southern Indiana, the cousins made a decision to chase a dream – and proceed no matter the cost. If not reckless, the reality of struggling to get by gives the lacerating, guitar-driven music a grittiness that’s nothing short of broken glass.
Milbourn laughs, looking back. He knows rejecting their staid raising and toughing it out in the trenches forges a pretty cutting sound. As he says, “When you’re starting out as a rock band, you’re playing the shittiest bars and nastiest places. Those nights at the Nick in Birmingham, playing to two people in the back who don’t care. You just slam into that indifference, trying to break it down or through it.
“And it’s hard to get going. You’re eating cheap awful gas station hot dogs, sleeping in a van, not showering for days and it sucks. But it builds you up, turns into something glorious when you put it into the music.”
Having moved to a pre-gentrified Nashville in 2009, the threesome dug in and started slugging it out. Focusing on writing songs, mastering their instruments and really stripping away the sludgy build-up so many bands think is important, they hit upon the essence of their uniquely aggressive sound.
“We grew up playing Southern gospel, black gospel and blues music,” Qualkenbush explains. “We loved Creedence, and Zeppelin, and Hendrix, too. But we were so immersed in the other, when we started to play as kids in a room, it all melted down into what you hear. Nothing is obvious, but somehow it’s all in there in different ways.”
It came together in East Nashville, in the wake of American Bang and Kings of Leon. Qualkenbush says, “There was this Southern sound kinda rolling; Kings of Leon were on their fourth or fifth record and becoming more global – and it created a void. There was no scene, really, but we met a lot of great musicians – and we honed what we wanted to be.”
They played out. They toured incessantly. They placed hard-hitting songs on Madden 17, as well as NFL and ESPN broadcasts. With the EP Danger in the Morning, their focus was strengthened and their indie label Cotton Valley Music found a partner in Interscope. Goodbye June realized their strength lay in stripping down…. Continue reading →
Growing up scattered throughout the South and Midwest, cousins Landon Milbourn, Brandon Qualkenbush, and Tyler Baker had longtime plans of forming a band. Then in June 2005, Baker’s brother was tragically killed in a car accident while home on military leave. “It wasn’t until after Shane passed away that we decided to finally make this happen, and to focus on writing music that felt really meaningful to us,” notes Qualkenbush. Having chosen a name to mark the month of Shane’s death, Goodbye June soon forged a heavy, soulful sound that fused Milbourn’s ferocious vocals with Qualkenbush and Baker’s brilliantly gritty guitar work.
In 2012, Goodbye June inked a deal with Nashville-based record label Cotton Valley Music, which eventually paved the way for their signing to Interscope Records in early 2016.
Goodbye June are now making their debut with the Danger In The Morning EP (Cotton Valley Music/Interscope Records), created in the thriving rock scene of their adopted hometown of Nashville, TN. The band worked closely with producer Paul Moak (The Weeks, Joy Williams of Civil Wars) to carve out a selection of songs that reveal both their frenetic energy and dynamic musicality.
Since their start, playing live has been essential to the lifeblood of the band. With recent performances including dates with ZZ Top, Forecastle Festival, Live on the Green, Louder Than Life Festival, and a European swing, the band delivers a show that Milbourn describes as “sweaty and dirty, with hair flying everywhere and tambourines getting broken and me falling down every once in a while.”
Now at work on a full-length debut to be released in 2017, Goodbye June is focused on channeling that raw energy into their studio output. “There’s definitely a structure to the madness with this band,” Qualkenbush points out. “We want to give people the kind of rock-and-roll experience that’s a little harder to come by these days-and hopefully they’ll come away with something that has real meaning. Continue reading →