Goodbye June opens the Whiskey Myers, Shane Smith & The Saints bill at Kemba Live (Outdoors) on Thursday, May 19. Tickets are $49.50 in advance, $55 at the door

While the Nashville-based Goodbye June has some country roots and even some Southern Rock influences, the band’s sound is more aligned with the current crop of rockers who create throwback classic rock music (see: Greta Van Fleet, Rival Sons, Dirty Honey, South of Eden, etc). With time on their hands during the pandemic, cousins Landon Milbourn (lead vocals), Brandon Qualkenbush (guitar, bass) and Tyler Baker (guitar) set out to make a very specific sounding album using bands like AC/DC and Queen as a template that is ideal for listening to during hot summer nights.

It’s not a stretch for me to say that See Where the Night Goes will likely be my favorite rock album of 2022 and I’ll go so far as to say it’s the best AC/DC album in 20 years! While on the road at the start of the Whiskey Myers tour, I had the chance to speak with Landon and Brandon.

I’m an ’80s hard rock/hair metal guy and I think you guys have some of that knowledge and love as well.

LANDON: Yeah, I think we pulled a little bit from that for this record. I mean, obviously, we have a little bit of influence from everywhere but I think this record, in particular, we kind of went for that late ’70s/early ’80s type vibe just to see how it would turn out and, yeah, so far, so good.

I interviewed Dirty Honey a few years ago and told them that if their record had come out in 1989, it would have been my favorite album that year. And, I probably would have seen them on a bill with a band like L.A. Guns playing in an arena. They mentioned how much they hate hair metal and don’t really consider that to be an influence at all.

LANDON: Well, dude, we embrace any sort of decade as long as it’s good music. I love it. We’ve been compared to everybody because people want to find a place for you so they can mentally compartmentalize you musically. So, I’d never take offense to anything. I mean, we’ve been called all kinds of stuff. Personally, I might not be that cool it, but it’s like, “yeah, whatever.” As long as you like the music, that’s what we’re going for. We want to appeal to everybody, but at the same time, we definitely did put some focus in on this record to have a specific style. And I think we’ll do that with the next record.

The focus you put on this record, did it come from trying to write an album during a pandemic and maybe going back and listening to older albums in your collection for inspiration or was the plan, even before the pandemic, to go in and write a classic hard rock album?

LANDON: I think the pandemic affected our writing process for sure. Honestly, this record probably wouldn’t have happened, not to say that we wouldn’t have put out a new record at some point, but had the pandemic not happened, this particular record wouldn’t have happened. There was a lot of time of sitting around and, and like you said, we did listen to records that we had listened to growing up. I know Tyler kind of honed in on AC/DC’s first record a lot just from a guitar standpoint, but we all had our own influences and then we just kind of collectively got together and figured out basically a style that we wanted to approach and how we recorded it with Paul Moak, our producer. We put a lot of time and we put a lot of thought into it just to make it cohesive but also every song has its own flavor.

Working from home for quite a bit of the last two+ years, I’ve had the chance to dig into some of the ’70s rock albums that I’ve picked up over the years. While I’m familiar with bands like Foghat, Deep Purple, and the Allman Brothers, it’s been cool to take a deep dive into their catalogs and hear the stuff that wasn’t as familiar to me.

BRANDON: That was one of the silver linings of the pandemic. It gave you the opportunity to sit and listen which, I think. typically in the way we live, it’s more quick and fast paced and it’s like, “here’s one song”, you get 30 seconds to listen before someone judges it. It was like the pandemic shut everything down to a pause and you could just sit and listen to a record that you should have listened to years ago.

I’m the same way, being able to dive deeper into catalogs. That was one of the beautiful things that came out of it for us, as a band. I was listening to a lot of Queen at the time and, obviously, some AC/DC but there was also the Rolling Stones. We just put our own spin on it. The songs on the new record are what came out.

Were all these songs written during the pandemic or were there any songs that you carried over from previous writing sessions?

LANDON: Only one song was carried over, the rest were written during the actual cycle for this album. That carried over song was “What I Need,” the ballad on the record. We wrote that back in 2018 with Scott Stevens, he’s a songwriter and producer out in LA and has a place outside of Nashville now as well. But that song always felt really special to us and it never made a record, you know, up until this one. And, and we just felt like it was the perfect song we needed to kind of balance out the whole record and it just kind of found its home and I’m happy that it did.

Again, it’s a throwback to what I grew up on. All the hard rock bands had a ballad somewhere in the middle of the record. The record is very cohesive, it does sound like everything was written at the same time and you made a record with a purpose. There’s no point on the album where I’m like, “Oh, wait. Did they switch gears? This doesn’t fit.” It’s like an AC/DC record where you know what you’re going to get from start to finish.

BRANDON: We set out to do that on purpose, to create a cohesive thing, because on our previous endeavors, we cast a pretty wide net and that’s typically where we go naturally. We want to have a rocker. We want to have a desert song. We want to have a trippy song. We want to have our ballad. On this record, we set out to make it all make sense from start to finish, still hitting those demographics but, at the same time, we knew we wanted to keep the pace up. And I think that’s what you’re hearing more than anything, most of the songs keep a similar pace. It keeps the beat moving. It keeps you dancing until you basically get to “What I Need:. So, yeah. it’s great that you hear that because that was our intention setting out. Like Landon said, next record will probably be something entirely different because that’s just who we are. The Beatles are our idols and every single record was different, you know? That’s just who we’ve always been. But, yeah, we wanted to give it at least one shot on one record to have that feeling you’re talking about.

I’d like to go back and time and read real-time reviews of Beatles and Zeppelin albums because, from album to album, they were changing their sounds. I’m sure people were thinking, “Is this the same band? They don’t sound anything like the last album.” It all makes sense to us now, 50 or 60 years later.

BRANDON: There would’ve been a bit of confusion but, obviously, everyone ate it up. I think there’s a lot of those bands that give you the same recipe over and over and it works and I love it. And I would say, for me, like Metallica has been really good about giving you a similar recipe, but different flavors in the same recipe. The Foo Fighters are another great example and we love both those bands. I think, for us, it’s always been about each record having a different personality because we all change from year to year and we have such a wide collective net of influences. I think that we try to get out on, on each record.

It feels to me like, because you live in Nashville and tour with a band like Whiskey Myers, you’re sometimes lumped into the country-rock category. But, in 2022, the lines between genres, like country and rock, are being blurred. In the late ’80s, I was strictly a hard rock fan and had no interest in going to a country concert because there was a big dividing line between genres. You’re touring now, and you’ve toured in the past, with Whiskey Myers but you’ve also toured with Badflower, Greta Van Fleet, Rival Sons and other current rock bands.

LANDON: Over time, I think we’ve just kind of accepted the fact that we’re a rock band but we’re from the south and we have those influences and it’s worked. We’ve done some shows with Blackberry Smoke overseas in the Netherlands. I think we did one or two shows with them. And then obviously like Whiskey Myers, probably when they started out, they were considered more country, but now they’re just a rock band. Their live show is amazing. It is confusing at times, especially when we first started, the industry didn’t know how to really market us, so it was kind of a challenge. But now those lines are being constantly shifted and blurred because you’ve got so many artists that dabble in country or in soul. There’s so many people now that can kind of do that crossover thing and it’s cool. It’s exciting for the future of music just to not have so many genres. Not everything needs a sub genre, you know? Not everything needs a title. It is what it is.

In Columbus, you played at the Rock on the Range festival, which is primarily a hard rock festival. And this summer you’re playing at the Firewater Festival which is curated by Whiskey Myers and features those types of bands we were just discussing. Do you have a favorite type of audience to play in front of?

LANDON: I could care less. We learned this from being on the road that even the venue you play can affect how people perceive your show. Like, if there’s like a lot of seats or it’s a theater, maybe they’ve never heard you before. Maybe they like it, but they’re sitting down. But then, you know, the night before, or the night after, it’s standing room only and people are just drunk and going nuts. You kind of get it all being out on tour. I love just playing music, especially after the pandemic, I think each show now is that much more important and special.

I’m not sure if you’ve done a proper headlining tour and played in Columbus. You’ve played at the previously mentioned Rock on the Range and have opened for Whiskey Myers. Are you hoping to headline your own dates later this year?

LANDON: Yeah, I think we’re gonna be back up following pretty much a lot of this route that we’re doing now with Whiskey Myers. The plan for the fall is to hit the Northeast again and hit the the Midwest again. I think we’re just gonna try and come back and see what we can do.

I would love to see you do a full set rather than be relegated to an opening slot where you only get to play 7 or so songs.

BRANDON: It’s pretty tough to get a full experience in 30 minutes, but this tour has been great and we love the Whiskey Myers guys. And, like you said, I mean, there is a little bit of difference between rock fans and Southern rock fans, Like Landon was saying, at this point, we’re just thankful to be able to be out here again and just playing shows. That’s the biggest thing.

I’m wondering, if you’re at a party and meeting somebody for the first time, do you have a go-to story to break the ice?

LANDON: There’s a lot of road stories, for sure

BRANDON: Just our stories in life, in general, we had a really interesting way we grew up and how we got out of that. And then everything we’ve done in rock and roll and being on the road. I think we can relate to a lot of people. What do you want to hear? Do you want to hear a party story? Do you want to hear a heartbreak story? We’ve experienced a lot of different things.

Okay, so how about telling me a rock and roll party story about a situation where you should have been arrested.

LANDON: Bro, we were detained by the Netherland police for four hours once. This actually wasn’t because of anything we did, we were staying with these people and apparently he was doing some shady stuff and we didn’t realize it. This was the first time we had ever been to Europe so it was like almost 10 years ago. The police show up and detain us and they hit another location that this guy had, he had a business and a few of our guys were there. They got them, but they let them go in like 20 minutes. But four of us I think were detained for about four hours. The judge even showed up on the scene, like the crime scene, like the judge was literally present. It’s insane.

BRANDON: Well, okay. We could have gotten in trouble (laughs). Here’s the story. The night before, we were hanging out, we were out really late drinking and partying and doing things. And then the next morning that’s when all this unfolded. Luckily, we didn’t have anything on us in our suitcases or nothing. We had partaken the night before and that was it. So they literally knocked on the door and they’re like, “We’re gonna search your suitcases,” and all this stuff. And we’re like, “Okay, that’s fine. Go ahead.” They’re like, “Okay. You sure?” Cause, I mean, they didn’t believe this obviously. They thought we were drug mules essentially is what it was. And, I mean, to be honest, all we did is smoke some hash. It wasn’t that big of a deal. Apparently what the truth of it is he was, I think he was dealing, he was dealing some other drugs or something we didn’t even know about. But anyways, so basically they detained us and then towards the end, like we’re showing some of the police our music videos and they’re like, “Oh cool.” They finally believed we’re in a band.

LANDON: We’re like, “Dude, we’ve never been here in our lives and we’re just here to play a show.”

Was there any panic moment where you’re like, “I’m not gonna leave this country? I’m going to jail”?

LANDON: We were scared then. I got scared in Sweden, in Stockholm. That’s a whole other story. It’s a little long, it’s a very long story. But, yeah, I don’t think we had too panicked. We were actually playing cards and stuff. They were letting us chill.

BRANDON: We all knew that we had gotten everything out of our possession before they got there. And we didn’t know what they were even talking about. Over there, you can deal weed legally and all this stuff. I mean, that’s all we partook in, but he got busted for something else and yeah. So (laughs) apparently he had a whole underground layer in his house that they didn’t find. We didn’t know about either until after the fact. But it was a whole operation and apparently we were hanging out with one of the biggest illegal drug dealers <laugh> We had no clue. We had no idea. We just thought this guy had some like weed and we’re just gonna hang out. No big deal. And, yeah, it kind of turned into a whole thing. We were out all night long and then, you know, we got detained the next morning. But we came out squeaky clean.

So what about your least rock and roll road story? Do you ever go back to the hotel after playing a show and get into bed at 10 o’clock?

BRANDON: Yes. If we can. Typically, we’re not getting into the hotel until 2 a.m. If we’re off the road at home, oh dude, I can fall asleep watching TV at 9:30. I mean, you know, there’s other days you’re out till 2 or 3 or 4 a.m. But, we definitely have those moments. It’s not all crazy party all the time. You know what I mean? It’s like sometimes you gotta sleep. In fact, when we’re done here, I’m probably take a nap.

What’s it been like getting back on the road now that things are starting to get back to what they were pre-pandemic?

LANDON: Our first show after the pandemic had started, like during the pandemic, Nashville opened up some venues but it was all table seating. You had to have a mask, you had to be vaccinated, there’s very strict protocols. We did a show at an awesome venue in Nashville that’s real popular called the Basement East. I think Marcus King did the first show and then we did the second show. It was really weird. You’re playing this set, but everybody’s sitting down, it’s like a jazz club almost. Some people were dancing in their seats. You couldn’t technically stand up, so it was weird. But from that moment on, it was still just joy because we were able to play. And watching it transform over the last, you know, year-and-a-half or whatever it’s been, it’s been pretty awesome, man. I don’t think about it anymore. We’re all vaccinated. Especially being on these bigger tours, we’re not around people at all, honestly, as far as like, you know, crowds of people or whatever. It feels normal. It feels like everything’s back to normal as much as it can be. We’re just happy that bands like us can get out and play again. It’s awesome.

I’m excited that it’s starting to warm up. I’ll definitely be listening to the record with my windows down and sunroof open because, to me, it’s the perfect rock and roll summer album.

BRANDON: You’re absolutely right, man. We’ve literally said this. We’re like, we want this record to be a record you can put on and have a barbecue with your friends and play it the entire way through.

I would have been happy with the album in the fall or winter but it’s a summer record for sure.

BRANDON: You got it, man. You picked it up.