Mike Mains & the Branches

"Success for us is when we get to talk to people who tell us that they’ve been touched by our music, or that it’s changed the way they live or see themselves in some way. That’s why we do this."

A young indie rock band from Gainsville, TX, who’s music sounds anything but young. Mike Mains & The Branches have poured their hearts into their first album titled, “Home.” The record is beautifully written and it’s hard to choose a favorite because they’re all so good. Members Mike Mains, Shannon Briggs, David Denison, and Jacob Burkhart have formed together to make a band that is completely unique and a breath of fresh air. Recently, I interviewed David Denison and learned a bit more about the band and their music that I can’t get enough of (and I promise, after hearing their stuff, you won’t be able to get enough either.)

Q. How did the four of you form to make “Mike Mains & The Branches”?

A. Funny story. We actually met in prison, after being involved in a string of jewelry heists. Just kidding. Last year, Mike Mains moved down to Texas, and moved in with Burk and me (David), who now play bass and drums in the band. We hit it off and became good friends, and the music just naturally came out of that. We liked what we were doing and decided to team up with Shannon on keys. Mike had worked with her before, and she definitely completed our happy little family.

Q. What do you feel has been your biggest success since forming?

A. Hmm… That’s a tough question to answer without sounding arrogant! I suppose it depends on what you mean by success. We’ve had some awesome opportunities for being such a young band; we’ve had some cool tours and have more coming up. It’s neat to see folks in other states singing along with our songs. But I don’t think any of us consider those things true success. Success for us is when we get to talk to people who tell us that they’ve been touched by our music, or that it’s changed the way they live or see themselves in some way. That’s why we do this.

Q. Who are some of the musicians who inspire you to become better at what you do?

A. The new Katy Perry record is really what keeps me going, her and Lil’ Wayne… But really, I know that Mike finds a lot of inspiration in Brandon Flowers of The Killers. Lately he’s been inspired by some older Americana stuff like Springsteen. I know in the past we’ve all been influenced by mewithoutYou and Brand New. Our friends often inspire us too. Basically, anybody who writes honest music that you can feel the passion in. That’s pretty rare these days.

Q. What has been one of your best shows you’ve ever played?

A. We had a really good show recently with Mae on their final tour. It’s fun to play in front of a bigger crowd than what we’re used to, and I think that always pushes us to perform better.

Q. What has been the best piece of advice you guys have ever received?

A. Well, two great pieces of advice come to mind. 1. A cardigan can be a great way to spice up an otherwise casual outfit. It has breathability while still being dressier than a t-shirt. 2. Work hard.

Q. You released your album “Home” back in May. Out of the twelve songs featured on the album, what is one of the songs you’re most proud of writing?

A. They are all meaningful to us for different reasons. We love playing Beneath Water live, because it’s the most intense song we have. But we are proud of some of our catchier songs too, and it always feels good to see people singing along with Stereo.

Q. What are some of your plans in the year 2011?

A. Well, my personal to-do list for 2011 definitely includes some pretty lofty goals, like saving up for a box of truffles, filling out my polo collection, and learning how to do sit-ups. I always say, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

As far as the band’s plans go, touring. And more touring. We’re taking a little break for Christmas, during which Mike and Shannon will be doing part of a tour with Seabird, just playing acoustic. But as soon as the New Year gets here, we will be on the road pretty much nonstop. We prefer it that way. It feels unnatural when we aren’t on the road now. I don’t know if everyone else feels this way or not, but I just feel so much more fulfilled when we are playing shows everyday, and consequently uncomfortable when we aren’t. We’ll be doing a tour in the spring with Abandon Kansas and Swimming with Dolphins. Those dates will be up soon.

Q. If you could be compared to anyone in the business, whom would you feel honored to be compared to?

A. I don’t know… I think that when you look at the greed and commercialism in the music industry, we probably prefer not being compared to anyone “in the business.” I always cringe a little even when somebody starts a sentence with “You guys sound kind of like…”

Q. If you could have your pick of any artists you could do a tour with, who would they be?

A. We’re feeling pretty optimistic that Kanye is going to request a guest spot on our next record. So it makes sense that we would do a tour together to support that. Otherwise, it would be cool to do a tour with Manchester Orchestra, or mewithoutYou. There are a number of artists like that who have influenced us. I think we are really hoping that we develop a more intelligent fan base like that, rather than touring with teeny bop bands. Not that anyone we have toured with fits into that category. But having some pop in our sound, that’s definitely a fear.

Q. If you were stranded on an island for the rest of your life and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

A. What a strange question… I can’t think of any song that wouldn’t get annoying if we had to listen to it everyday. But what are these circumstances? How did we get to this island? Whose iPod has one song on it? Where is this electricity coming from for the rest of our lives? Could we not use it for something more useful? So many unanswered questions… I think I watch enough Man Vs. Wild that we could use the iPod as a raft to escape to safety. But if not, I would want it to be a recording of our crappy first demos. It would remind me that while I am stranded on an island, things could be worse.

Here’s their first single released off their album. “Stereo” is an instant pick-me-up.

The End.

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