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Hembree delivers the sound of a band resurrected and revived

The first version of Hembree (from left): Matt Green, Zach Mehl, Garrett Childers, Jim Barnes and Isaac Flynn. Eric Davis recently replaced Mehl.
The first version of Hembree (from left): Matt Green, Zach Mehl, Garrett Childers, Jim Barnes and Isaac Flynn. Eric Davis recently replaced Mehl. Waldron Photograph Co.

Hembree was the solution to a dissolution.

In October 2013, the band Quiet Corral played its last show. Lead singer Jesse Roberts left to start his own project, and the remaining members weren’t sure what to do next.

“Jesse is an incredible talent,” said Isaac Flynn, “and an amazing lyricist and songwriter. So it seemed like there was no way we could continue without him.”

But there was a way. And all it took to start a new project was some support from friends and fans, and some informal jam sessions.

“A lot of people were really encouraging,” Flynn said. “And I realized the band had been six people, not one. So maybe we could start this thing again. Everyone got on board pretty quickly.”

At the time of its breakup, Quiet Corral had been a band for nearly four years. It toured hard, hitting both coasts and the Southwest and Midwest, and it landed a few big gigs, including a spot at the Austin City Limits Festival in 2012. But it had released only two recordings: a six-song, self-titled EP in 2010 and “Ancestors,” a 12-song full-length album, released in September 2013.

“Looking back, we took too long getting the full-length out,” said Garrett Childers. “And that kind of screwed us in the end. You can’t dilly-dally for two and a half years trying to perfect a record. The last year of the band, things were kind of rocky. I’m not sure how much our hearts were in it. But it was a great experience, and we learned a ton.”

And when they reconvened to restart things as a five-piece, they applied a lot of those lessons.

“We’re still a democracy, but Quiet Corral was much more collaborative,” Flynn said. “And it could be kind of a tedious process when everyone has to be satisfied with every part of every song. In this band, everyone knows their roles. I bring a song in and give the guys free reign to do whatever they want.”

And they are also committed to producing recorded material at a quicker pace. The band recently released “New Oasis,” a six-song EP, and is working on more recorded music. The music is a departure from the Americana sound in which Quiet Corral was rooted.

“Jesse really brought the Americana and folk-inspired elements to the band,” Flynn said. “I love that kind of music, but I’ve always been a big fan of straight-up rock ’n’ roll but also of pop music in general. I wanted to play to our strengths. There are things I’m not great at, but I think I have a good sense of melody.

“And I wanted to incorporate melody more into the forefront of our songwriting, and I wanted more groove in our songs. And I wanted to interweave my voice with Garrett’s. He’s got a real special voice.”

Flynn is the band’s principal songwriter, but he credits the rest of the band for filling out the sound, especially drummer Jim Barnes, who also serves as the band’s engineer and producer, and new keyboardist Eric Davis, who replaced Zach Mehl.

“And Garrett and Matt (Green) really keep me in check,” Flynn said. “I’m a sucker for shameless pop, and they have great taste in music and know how to rein me in.”

There are plenty of pop melodies on “New Oasis,” a collection of songs with lots of luster, atmosphere and groove. Childers said the band has heard a variety of comparisons: Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, “a male Haim meets Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins meets Local Native.”

Fans of such bands as Lord Huron, Port O’Brien or the now-defunct Kansas City band the Republic Tigers are likely to enjoy the album’s many charms.

The plan now is to play and record, a lot.

“We want to do a good deal of touring and put out as much music as possible,” Childers said. “Everything is so fast-paced now you have to fight for attention spans.”

Hembree has been able to cash in on the Quiet Corral experience, booking shows with venue owners they already had worked with, including a couple of gigs in Austin. But they have also tapped into the larger experience and regained a sense of purpose.

“We’d forgotten how to have fun with music,” Childers said. “We hadn’t officially re-formed yet when we’d go to Isaac’s place after work to drink beers and record, sometimes til 4 in the morning. And it was so much fun. That was really encouraging.”

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to Follow the Back to Rockville blog on Twitter @kcstarrockville.


Hembree performs Saturday at the Granada in Lawrence. Ebony Tusks and Paper Buffalo open. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission to the all-ages show is free.