On a recent Sunday night in the middle of Nowheresville, Okla., Missing Sibling experienced its first big break.
It’s not what you think.
A belt on singer/guitarist Drew Gabbert’s Jeep Cherokee snapped, leaving him and his two bandmates –– drummer Josh Hoover and bassist Todd Walker –– stranded on the side of the road, their mounds of gear in the back lying eerily helpless.
Hoover also plays in indie-rock faves Calhoun, and he had a show scheduled with them the next night. To be able to make it, he had to take a cab from the highway to the airport, hop on a plane, and take another cab to his house
“It was a debacle,” Gabbert said with a laugh.
But what’s being in a rock band without at least one horrible road story?
And Missing Sibling is the real deal. Though the guys have been together only about a year, they’ve accomplished a lot. They’ve been on the road, hired a publicist, and recorded a five-song EP with in-demand producer Will Hunt (Calhoun, Holy Moly, The Hanna Barbarians) at his Fort Worth-based studio, Spaceway Productions.
Pick a Family is a gem of ragged but melodic pop, drenched in fuzz and peppered with Gabbert’s smart, often sentimental lyrics and sweet, distant voice. “When we first recorded our demos,” Gabbert said, “we asked people what [the music] reminded them of, and eight out of 10 people would say, ‘I don’t know. I can’t really think of anything.’ That’s encouraging to us, because as a band member that’s always what you want to hear.”
The Missing Sibling guys have pretty lofty pedigrees. Besides Hoover’s work with Calhoun, all three musicians are also in Fate Lions, and Gabbert and Hoover also play in the Dallas-based pop-rock outfit Sunward.
Missing Sibling was born from equal parts inspiration and idle hands. While both Fate Lions and Sunward were on hiatus a couple of years ago, Gabbert experienced a spurt of creativity, churning out 14 songs in about 10 days. He began recording them at a local music school’s studio, playing all of the instruments himself. When he felt he had taken the project as far as he could on his own, he brought in bassist Walker. Hoover is the band’s most recent addition and third drummer. Pick a Family was recorded with drummer Austin Green (Telegraph Canyon, The Apache 5).
In keeping with the EP’s title, themes of family and home permeate Missing Sibling’s music. To Gabbert, home isn’t just a setting but a feeling of safety and naivete. He also deals with the disillusionment that comes with losing them. “Keep Strong, Boy” is loosely based on Dustin Hoffman’s character from The Graduate. Upon seeing the legendary 1967 dramedy for the first time recently, Gabbert immediately identified with Ben Braddock. “It struck me,” he said, “because it’s that concept of being at a certain age where everyone is telling you, ‘You have to do this’ and ‘Why aren’t you doing that?’ And he just wants to sit around by the pool and really doesn’t get it.
“When we were working with [Hunt],” Gabbert continued, “we told him we wanted [our music] to sound innocent rather than over-thought or overcooked. We approached it with a child-like mentality.”
But there’s nothing “child-like” about the band’s approach to rock. Currently seeking a booking agent and manager, Missing Sibling is going back into the studio soon with Hunt to record some tuneage to be released either as singles or EPs — a steady flow of music rather than one large slab produced perhaps once a year. Gabbert said putting out small bursts of new material keeps things fresh and interesting and the band inspired. “It’s more exciting to have something happening right around the corner, rather than having to do the same songs for another eight months or a year,” he said.
The band is preparing to shoot a video next month for “Keep Strong, Boy” with director P.J. McGuire, who directed the short film Something Happy. In May, the trio will tour the West Coast for two weeks.
“We’re not going to be able to take the Cherokee,” Gabbert said. “It’s got 180,000 miles on it.”
Sat, Feb 2, w/The Hope Trust and Foreign Home at The Grotto, 517 University Dr, FW. 817-882-9331.