What does it mean to be a rock ‘n’ roll band in 2019?
For Goodbye June, it implies an important responsibility. They don’t take that responsibility lightly either, which explains why the Nashville trio of cousins–Landon Milbourn [vocals], Brandon Qualkenbush [rhythm guitar, backing vocals], and Tyler Baker [lead guitar]–have quietly emerged at the forefront of the 21st century rock vanguard. In the wake of their 2017 full-length debut Magic Valley, the boys earned the endorsement of Rolling Stone, contributed “Liberty Mother” to a high-profile Budweiser campaign, packed shows across the country, and racked up 30 million-plus cumulative Spotify streams. An avalanche of rip-roaring rock ‘n’ roll, Southern-fried blues, and gospel soul, the group traverse their own lane at full speed, etching out a place ahead of the pack.
“There’s a huge responsibility on a rock band today,” affirms Brandon. “You’ve got to work twice as hard as the bands we love had to, but it’s worth it. We could’ve gone in so many different directions, but we decided to stay where we were needed. We definitely want to say something.”
“A lot of bands that have gone down this path would’ve given up a long time ago,” continues Landon. “However, the three of us are family. That gets us through everything. We have an opportunity to show the next generation what a great rock band can do. It’s the perfect job for right now. The kids want it; they just don’t know it yet,” he laughs.
Against all odds, Goodbye June remain committed to said mission. That resolute spirit defines their 2018 EP, Secrets In The Sunset [Cotton Valley Music]. Within the span of two years, they lived through a dramatic series of ups and downs, placing them on both sides of the spectrum. They amicably parted ways from their major label deal. Tyler experienced the birth of his baby girl, while Landon’s fiancée called off their wedding three weeks prior to the date (during a solar eclipse, no less). As they entered Black River Studios with producer Bobby Huff, the three piece drew on “this turning point of joy and heartache” to record the five-song collection.
They kicked off the sessions by recording the title track “Secrets In The Sunset.” Airy guitars reverberate under Landon’s hypnotic howl over subtle orchestration. The energy curls towards a sweeping refrain upheld by thunderous riffing and spirited soloing. The song opened up the creative floodgates as the guys recorded “Blindly Follow Blindly” under the influence of a flurry of inspiration. Taking dead aim at hypocrisy, its spacey fretwork brushes against Landon’s explosive delivery during the chorus.
Meanwhile, songs like “Live In The Now” transformed into something of a mantra for the band. A pastiche of slide, acoustic, and electric guitar, the psychedelic sonic framework gives way to an overpowering hook that’s as hard-hitting as it is harmonious.
“I brought this idea to Tyler and Landon, and they immediately reacted to it,” continues Brandon. “We’d all been thinking about the same thing without necessarily saying it out loud. It’s an awareness of being in the moment and living right now instead of constantly asking, ‘What’s next? Why did I do this in the past?’ We’re encouraging ourselves to live in the now.”
As Goodbye June hit the road alongside longtime friends Greta Van Fleet on a sold out theater tour in 2018, they have been performing in front of thousands nightly and undoubtedly converting an even bigger audience in the process.
As the band continue to write and record, they inch closer and closer to accomplishing the mission they set out on. They’re squarely positioned to pick up the proverbial torch once carried by the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Aerosmith for a new era.
“It’s not about appeasing radio or anybody else,” Brandon leaves off. “When you put on a Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, or Rolling Stones record, it’s music that matters. You’re familiar with it, but it doesn’t sound like anything else. That’s our goal when we sit down to write. We promise that’s never going to change.”
“All of our favorite bands made us feel something,” Landon concludes. “We hope you walk away with a similar experience.”