Missing Sibling Rolls The Dice In Their Heap.
Behind every great band is a great van. And when these former church vans, daycare buses and plumber's work vehicles have racked up enough miles on the road, they eventually start being thought of by the band as another member of the team. Hey, we get it: It's hard to spend so many hours with bandmates (both human and machine) without a few things getting broken, a few good fights taking place and lots of great memories being made. We hope that, by exploring these stories, we might get to know some bands from both North Texas and beyond on a more personal level. Check out this feature's archives here.
A couple winters back, guitarist Drew Gabbert was feeling inspired — so much so, in fact, that he wrote a dozen or so songs in a matter of days.
The only problem? His band Fate Lions was on hiatus at the time. So, in the meantime, Gabbert and his Fate Lions bandmate Todd Walker decided to record Gabbert's new material as a trio with drummer Josh Hoover, calling themselves Missing Sibling. The resulting five-song Pick a Family EP was recorded a short time later with producer Will Hunt (Burning Hotels, Amy Lee) at his Spaceway Studios, and regional tours were planned.
But when we caught up with the 2013 Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards nominees at the music school were Gabbert currently works — and, it turns out, the same place where the demos for the band's EP were recorded as well — we were surprised to find that there wasn't any gear in their vehicle.
Explained Gabbert: They just picked their ride up from the shop earlier in the day. As we'd soon find out, the band's tour vehicle finds itself in and out of the shop quite often.
Band Name: Missing Sibling.
Vehicle Name: The Heap.
Year/Make/Model: 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
OK. So, obviously, this isn't a van. It's a Jeep. You can fit your gear in there — without a trailer?
Drew Gabbert (vocals/guitars): “It's one of those things where the night before I measured it out, and put all of our stuff in here myself, and sent everybody pictures of it. It was like, 'Look, it can be done. We don't have to take two cars.' I said 'No overnight bags, no toiletries, no personal items.' It's like a serious mission would be in World War II. No dog tags, no helmets, nothing shiny, nothing rattles. Clothes on your back — and that's it. That's the only way to make it happen.”
But what happens if you guys go out of town for more than a few days?
Drew: “We pray a lot. We cross our fingers. This thing is always on the verge of breaking down at all times. We went to Houston and there was a horrible rattling sound coming from underneath the hood. It sounded awful and [bassist] Todd [Walker] was concerned about it. We had to drive all the way home from Houston back to Dallas and got back at around 5 o'clock in the morning. The whole way, we were sweating bullets. Well, I was. They were all asleep. We made it. Then it was time to go to Tulsa. Todd was like, 'I don't know about this. I don't have a good feeling.' And he was right. We played Tulsa on a Saturday and drove home Sunday morning. We were in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, going down I-44 and it started smoking out of the front and the back. All the gauges went crazy like inside of fucking Back to the Future. Me and Todd were debating whether to pull over or not because [drummer] Josh [Hoover] was asleep in the backseat. The power steering started to come back so we decided to keep going. Then it got to the point where we decided we weren't going to make it back to Dallas like this. So we pulled off and we went through a tollbooth. I got up there with my window down and my change just ready to throw in there and the woman at the booth said, 'Honey, you're smoking.' I was like, 'No shit.' I don't know how I was able to turn it. I was like down in the floorboard trying to turn it because there was no power steering. We got it into a gas station, lifted up the hood, and there was this green antifreeze everywhere. It was like someone threw a water balloon full of antifreeze, and it was smoking all over the place. The belt was gone off the front. We figured out the thing that was making the noise had busted loose and knocked through a heater line and the belt snapped off. It was 9 o'clock on a Sunday. So we called AAA and the guy said, 'Where are you?' I said, 'Sapulpa, Oklamoma, I think.' He said, 'Great, I know where that is. Look down the street. Do you see a green awning and a red building that's a Mexican restaurant?' He knew right where we were. Josh, our drummer, plays in Calhoun and he had to play a wedding that day at 4. It was going to take too long to fix it, so he got in a cab, went back to Tulsa, hopped on a Southwest flight back to Dallas. My dad picked him up at the airport and drove him to Dada to play the wedding. He made it in time. Crisis averted.”
Where did your vehicle come from? How did you acquire it?
Drew: “I got this in 2005. My parents bought it new in 2002 and I bought it on 2005. I paid it off in 2007. In past bands before Missing Sibling, this has always been the band heap. It's just always been there. We've used it for everything, really.”
What makes your vehicle special? What are its best and worst features?
Todd (bass): “It makes it — sometimes. I guess that can be a negative or a positive.”
Drew: “It's made it every time but once! It gets better gas mileage than a van, so I'd put that as a plus. It's easy to load in and out. It doesn't scream, 'Musical equipment inside, please steal!' It's pretty mundane from the outside. The worst thing is there's always something wrong with it.”
Who usually does the driving?
Drew: “It's usually me. I have an irrational fear of the police, so I'm an incredibly safe driver. I'm also irrationally afraid of car accidents, so I will never fall asleep. If I'm a passenger, my knuckles are white the whole time — even though Todd is a pretty good driver.”
What are your best memories from being in The Heap?
Todd: “Probably the first thing that comes to mind is when we were driving back from Oklahoma. We had gone to see a friend do some stuff up there. We were driving back and I think I was sleeping in the passenger seat on and off because it was a long weekend. Drew wakes me up and says, 'OK, we gotta get this together.' He was writing lyrics on the steering wheel as we driving back down I-35. The fact that the song exists and that those memories come back when I hear it is really cool.”
Drew: “That's a song that nobody else has ever heard and probably never will. But when I listen to it, I can instantly be back inside that Jeep, scrambling for a pen in the console and some tiny scrap of paper to hold on the steering wheel. It probably wasn't the safest idea, but I managed to keep the rubber side down.”
What are the best modifications you've made to the vehicle, decorative or otherwise?
Drew: “After years of playing Tetris, we've figured out how to make it work. Our girlfriends will be like, 'There's no way you can fit that in there.' And I say, 'Bullshit. Watch this. I've done this before.'”
Todd: “We've made it work where a lot of people would just get a van — or a van and a trailer. Oh, we have made one modification.”
Drew: “But that wasn't cosmetic. Todd ran out of gas in his truck. It was here in town, close to where we live. We thought we could roll it down this hill to a gas station. We got to the bottom of the hill and Todd was in the middle of a busy street and there were cars coming. So I kind of panicked and thought I had to push him into the median. I went to bump him and he was in a pickup truck and the rear hitch went underneath my bumper. I didn't know what was really too bad about it at the time. I reversed and it ripped the whole thing off in one piece — the headlights and everything. It was raining and cold as shit outside, and we had to push it by hand down to the gas station.”
Anything else we you'd like to tell us about The Heap?
Drew: “We were going to Austin one time. It was me and Tony Ferraro, the bass player for Fate Lions at the time. Something was going on with the shocks and stuff. We were riding down the road and it was shaking so bad that it was rattling change out of the change tray onto the floor. Tony says, 'It feels like I'm riding in a washing machine.' That's Tony's sense of humor. I remember [another time when] Josh, our drummer, was explaining 7/8 and 3/4 to everybody. I was driving and we were listening to “7/4 (Shoreline)” by Broken Social Scene. Josh was counting it off as it goes. After a long conversation about it, we figured out that none of us really know how to count time signatures as well as we thought we could.”
Missing Sibling performs June 28 at Double Wide.