Charles Rocha was part of the crew that headed down to Nashville with the band Bear Cub in 2010, and one of the members who ultimately chose to split off.
"Jesse [Hall] and I grew apart," Mr. Rocha says of the Bear Cub frontman. "I guess creatively and personally we had different ideas about how things should be done within the band. We're still friends and he taught me a lot about songwriting. I also learned a lot from his father, Buddy Hall, about the recording arts and working in a studio and producing a record."
Mr. Rocha wasn't a novice going in. He had toured the country as a teenager in ska-punk band The Berlin Project (2002-04), and played in the California punk band Craig's Brother after that.
After leaving Bear Cub, he found himself rediscovering his own music, in the form of the new project That Summer, prompted in part by the 2011 death of Berlin Project founder John Garrighan.
"John took me on the road when I was just 17 and really opened my eyes up to the world of rock 'n' roll," he says. "Losing him had an enormous impact on my musical soul. I lost a brother. He said to me once that we were the last of a dying breed, meaning kids that put all our heart and soul into our music, travel as much as possible in a van with our friends, and sleep on hardwood floors for the love of the song and the chance to continue putting our music out to the world."
After reconnecting at the funeral, Mr. Rocha got to work on a set of new songs with Garrighan's best friend, Brad Evanovich, and they moved to Florida shortly after.
"We got together with our guitars under a palm tree in my backyard and just felt it was right to move forward with the songs we were both writing, knowing subconsciously that John was still with us," Mr. Rocha says. "John has become and always will be like a third member of this band."
That Summer emerges with the five-song "The Heart EP" (co-produced by Roger Lima of Less Than Jake), which is more Bear Cub than Berlin Project, with melodic, youthful and sweetly sung folk-rock songs.
The pair is joined by guitarist Paul Menotiades (Berlin Project, Punchline, The Composure), bassist Andy Marks (The Composure) and drummer Giuseppe Capolupo (Gypsy and his Band of Ghosts) for a release show Saturday at Club Cafe.
"I asked them all if they'd be down to do this and they all were stoked on it," Mr. Rocha says. "I sent them the record a couple months ago and we started arranging everything around the full band this week in the South Side. The songs have really come to life with these guys and I am so lucky to have such a well-rounded group of individuals to work with. Their talent and passion is unquestionable. The show is going to be killer."