Tragedy inspires Goodbye June to chase success

Photo courtesy of Goodbye June
Brandon Qualkenbush, left, Landon Milbourn and Tyler Baker released their first full-length album, “Nor the Wild Music Flow,” in June.


Herald Staff Writer

Nashville, Tenn., band Goodbye June takes its first album’s name from a poem called “June” by William Cullen Bryant.

The verses were written more than 100 years ago, but the sentiment — a man dies and is buried in June during the warm summer weather — is all too familiar.
“I know that I no more should see/ the season’s glorious show,/ nor would its brightness shine for me,/ nor its wild music flow.”

Tyler Baker, 26, formerly of Hillham, and two of his cousins, Landon Milbourn, 23, and Brandon Qualkenbush, 29, released their first full-length album, “Nor the Wild Music Flow” as Goodbye June last month, seven years after they first decided to make music together.

The band was born of a tragedy like the one in the poem that resonated so deeply with them. On June 25, 2005, while home in Dubois County on leave from the Army, Pfc. David “Shane” Baker, Tyler’s older brother, died from injuries sustained in a car accident.

The whole family gathered in southwest Indiana for the funeral. It was then that Baker and his cousins decided to turn their life-changing tragedy into a life-changing success story.

“At the funeral, me and my two cousins, we kind of all came together and made the decision that life is short. We were all involved in music in one way or another. I was in a cover band in Dubois with some of my high school buddies. So we all got together and said, ‘Let’s form a band, and let’s just see what happens,” Baker said in a telephone interview from his Nashville home last week.

At the time, the son of David and Reva (Qualkenbush) Baker had just graduated from Northeast Dubois High School and was preparing to head to Indiana University in the fall. He and his cousins kept in touch, practicing and recording demos — songs recorded to demonstrate talent that are circulated to record producers — while Baker finished school.

“In 2005, we got really serious and recorded some demos in Evansville at a little jingle studio,” Baker said. “After college, we all talked about, ‘Hey, let’s move to Nashville, Tenn.’ It’s got a good music scene. It’s not too far away from home. Let’s go down there for a couple years and just check it out.”

Qualkenbush lived in Indianapolis at the time, and Milbourn split his time between Henderson, Tenn., and Evansville.

The three cousins announced that they would be moving and making music into full-time jobs to their very supportive family members who had faith that the band would be a success.

“It was a tough sell initially, going to Nashville, but we all come from great families, and they’ve told us since we were young that we all had talents for music and that we should pursue it,” Baker said.

He wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary when he arrived in Nashville to search for a house for the band, but while scanning merchandise at a garage sale, he met a producer from Cotton Valley Records and handed off some of his demo recordings.

“He called me back that night and said, ‘I love you guys. You have to let me work with you.’ From then, we all moved down to Nashville and just a bunch of crazy things have transpired.”

The transition to Tennessee in 2009, shortly after Baker’s college graduation, was not always an easy one. The three men struggled to make ends meet and still have time left over for band practice and songwriting.

“It was scary. Dubois County was always home. All my friends were there, I knew so many people, and I just loved my time there. When we moved to Nashville, we really didn’t know anybody. We had each other, which was huge. That was really probably what got us through the tough times,” said Baker, who is engaged to fellow Northeast Dubois High School graduate Ambra Wible.

“We worked our tails off in full-time jobs for three years. We worked 40, 45, 50 hours a week and then we would come to a studio and we would do our music process. After three years, it kind of demoralizes you. We like to think that the hard work we put in paid off.”

Baker plays guitar and pedal steel guitar, Milbourn sings lead vocals and plays acoustic guitar, keyboard and drums, and Qualkenbush picks up the extra instruments, including accordion, harmonica and keyboard. The three are the face of the band, but they get extra help from two close friends to round out their sound when recording and performing.

The men finally sat down to record “Nor the Wild Music Flow” in 2010, spending a year and a half perfecting their 11 songs at Omni Studios in Nashville.

For the first time, the band members had funding from a recording company behind them, so they took their time working the kinks out of their music and polishing their sound.

“We recorded a lot of songs that we threw out. The album that you will hear, those are the ones that we developed and that we fell in love with, and that’s who Goodbye June is,” Baker said.

Goodbye June is, as Baker explained, a member of the “new Southern rock” genre, which includes popular acts like Kings of Leon and The Black Keys.

“We definitely fall into that rocking, rootsy, raw, anthemic rock,” he said.

The band’s first single, “Microscope,” lives up to that description, and the trio filmed their first music video featuring themselves running through the woods with shotguns to escape two police officers.

The police officers in this music video were played by country singer Steve Holy and St. Louis Rams football coach Jeff Fisher, friends of the band who expressed interest in helping out wherever they could.

Goodbye June has managed to take its rootsy sound across Nashville, where the band has a big following. The band sold out 12th and Porter, a 350-seat venue in the city, for the CD release party last month.

“We were honored to be able to do that,” Baker said. “I love the live shows. There’s something about going out on stage and giving everything you’ve got to an audience, whether it’s 300 people or 3,000 people. They love it, they get into it, they jump up and down. There’s a lot of parts about being in the music business that aren’t glamorous. What makes up for all of that and then some is that hour and a half that we get on stage in front of people.”

For now, the band is gearing up for what Baker says likely will be the most exciting six months of their lives. Their music will soon debut on college radio stations across the southeastern United States, and the boys will play random shows throughout the area’s major cities to begin heavily promoting their new album.

Baker said he expects he and his cousins will head to Asia before the year ends for a tour of cities including Hong Kong and Beijing. Though Baker’s only journey outside the country to this point was a class field trip to Mexico, he said he’s excited for what the tour will bring.

“There’s always been a big hunger for Southern rock overseas in Europe and Asia. They really enjoy American bands, especially bands that have a little bit of Southern flavor so to speak. That will literally jump-start our career. ”

“Microscope” will also be played on Channel V, a popular European TV station shown in 17 countries.

But even as Baker, Milbourn and Qualkenbush see their careers ignite, they will never forget the reason they came together in the first place.

“He (Shane) kind of trickles in and out of the music,” Baker said of his brother. “We had multiple songs written about him where the whole song was dedicated to him. We’re not going to release them yet, just because we really wanted to take our time. When we release a song about him, we want it to be the absolute best song we can make. We want it to be just perfect to memorialize him.”

Information about the band, tour dates, merchandise, music downloads and music videos can be found at the band’s website at

Contact Claire Moorman at

More on