Jason Wiese | Culture Editor
Published April 14, 2015; 12:25 p.m.
Goodbye June sound a bit like the lovechild of Lynryrd-Skynyrd and Nirvana. As bizarre as that may sound, this trio of cousins take that moniker and make it sound like an essential recipe for rock ‘n’ roll, with heart being the prime ingredient.
The familial trio, made up of guitarists Tyler Baker and Brandon Qualkenbush and singer Landon Milbourn, found their calling to pursue their dream after reuniting through a tragic event that brought them closer.
“In 2005, my brother, PFC Shane Baker, he passed away while he was home on military leave,” said Baker. “He had a tragic car accident.”
Qualkenbush and Milbourn grew up close by in Atlanta, Georgia, but headed to Indiana to be there for Baker and his family in their time of need. The cousins ended up living together for about a year, during which the three would pass time writing songs as a way of therapy, but it would soon turn into a motivation to pursue a life-long dream.
“It was a real emotional time for me,” says Baker about dealing with the loss of Shane. “I know it changed me. I had always loved music before, but when he passed away, something biologically or emotionally changed in me to where [I was just] like, ‘I’ve always wanted to be a musician. I’m going to be a musician.’”
Qualkenbush adds, “To us, [Shane] was invincible… [After his death], it was just like, ‘Man, it could happen at any moment. You’re not going to live forever.’ So we were like, ‘Just lay everything down and do what we actually want to do.’”
In 2009, the cousins packed up and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue a career, gave their band a name as a tribute to Shane’s passing in the month of June and eventually got signed with Cotton Valley Records in 2012, who produced their debut album “Nor the Wild Music Flow.” The 11-track album helped personify their style and the influence their fallen family member had on them. They often find Shane’s influence in their music.
“We obviously have written songs to try to memorialize him and different things,” says Qualkenbush. “We, actually, really haven’t written ‘that’ song quite yet… There’s several little lines here and there scattered throughout songs, just little hints of him. But we haven’t written that one song that’s ‘his’ song and it’s about him specifically.”
“I think it’s overall, in the passion that we have, the way we play live or even in the studio, it’s kind of in everything that we do, really,” says Milbourn of Shane’s influence. “It’s just that drive, because it is what made us want to do this full time, so even though we hadn’t written that song yet, I think it’s just, kind of, in every song. His message and what he taught us is a part of us now and until the day we die.”
That drive lives on in the music the band has been preparing for their upcoming sophomore album, which has yet to be titled, that they expect to release late this summer. They will perform new tracks and their past songs, at a “sweaty, dirty rock and roll show,” which will also feature local favorite Clockwork, at the Old Rock House in St. Louis, Missouri, this Friday, April 17, at 8 p.m. They bring a great sense of personality to their shows and proving yet another philosophy that they have learned and have managed to prove on their own.
“They always say, ‘If you do what you love for a living, it’s not work’ and we’ve been privileged enough to experience that for a little bit,” says Qualkenbush. “And, hopefully, it continues on.”
To enter to win free tickets to Friday’s concert, visit goodbyejune.com/stlouis.