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New friends, dancing, and food: A Q&A with Mike Mains & The Branches

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Indie rock sensation Mike Mains & The Branches is gearing up for their album release tour in support of new album Calm Down, Everything Is Fine. The Lansing-based trio will kick off the celebration at The Crofoot Ballroom this Saturday, February 15. [More info here] The show was originally scheduled for the Pike Room (smaller, second-level venue at The Crofoot) but sold so many tickets it had to be moved down to the main ballroom!

The Branches have played with Relient K, Hellogoodbye, William Beckett, Motion City Soundtrack, Bastille, and Wild Cub.

Get better acquainted with the band via the Q&A below and don't miss your chance to celebrate with them this Saturday at The Crofoot!

How did you all meet and decide to form a band?
Mike and I have known each other and played music together for quite some time now. When he moved to Texas in 2009 and told me he was going to start another band I offered to help with some of the demos he was working on with our former drummer, David Denison. I loved what I heard, the band decided to move to Michigan, and the rest is history. Little did I know Mike and I would end up married a few years later (watch out, girls, boys are sneaky).

Mike loves coffee. I don’t mean “kind of loves”. I mean, he loves drinking coffee more than anyone I’ve ever met. So naturally, when he found out his favorite barista in the world (Nate) also happened to play bass, he asked him to come out to a practice. Nate is the reason we haven’t caught fire to ourselves or accidentally driven to the wrong state for a show. He’s an amazingly engaging performer, he loves candy, he’s great with spreadsheets, and he’s single (ladies?).

What's the story behind "& The Branches"?
To be honest? We liked the way it sounded. Mike didn’t want the project to just be “Mike Mains” because he realized it sounded too singer-songwriter for his taste. He wanted a name that sounded like what we were: a band. So we chose “The Branches”. It could have been “The Amazing Mr. Fantastics” or “The Pizza Party Lovers”, but we liked the ring of “The Branches” best.

What are some of your favorite artists / what are you currently listening to?
One ride in our van would show that this isn’t an easy question to answer. Our favorites and influences are really broad, but a short list that we could all be happy with would be: The National, Wilco, Frank Turner, The Front Bottoms, Justin Timberlake (forever and ever, amen), some dirty rap songs, and we make fun of Nate for playing Alkaline Trio way too much.

Favorite venue to play in Michigan. If you had to pick.
Ah, that’s a tough one…but THE PYRAMID SCHEME in Grand Rapids. The bathrooms are so clean you could lick the floor, the area is filled with great food, and Fusion Shows always does an A+ job making the night run smooth.

If you could tour with any band, dead or alive, who would it be?
Don’t laugh at us, but we think that touring with Blink 182 would make for a pretty fun time. [Author's note: I would never laugh at you for that.]

Any pre-show rituals?
We always take a few minutes before each show to have a little encouraging speech, usually that’s Michael’s duty. Also, we never play without first putting our hands in the middle of a circle and doing a little Mighty Ducks “QUACK, QUACK, QUACK…GOOOOOO [INSERT CITY WE ARE PLAYING HERE]!!!!!!” chant. If we really want to get ourselves pumped up we have a little dance party to LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yrself Clean”.

Inspiration can hit you when you least expect it. What are some of the things that inspire the song writer(s)?
Believe it or not, you can find so much inspiration in mundane everyday life. If you need some proof to back that statement up, Mike wrote almost all of our first record “Home” while cashing out jackpots at a casino in Oklahoma. He wrote “Calm Down, Everything Is Fine” after we got married and he was working full-time at a car wash. It’s when we have the most downtime that our creativity starts to dwindle. It’s hard to find inspiration when you’re bored, depressed, and playing video games all day. Sometimes just paying attention to your surroundings creates a wellspring of ideas. Case in point: get off your phone and be aware of the fullness of life.

Is there a song you like the most out of all you've written/recorded?
Although each of us would probably answer this question a little differently, I think we all could collectively agree that “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” from our newest album is one of our favorite songs we’ve released. That song’s funny because it wasn’t even originally one that we chose to be on the album. It wasn’t even until Mike was playing the chorus in pre-production when we all stopped and said to one another, “Hey, I think there’s something more to this song. Let’s play around with it and see where it takes us.” In the end I think we were all extremely happy and surprised with the outcome of an unexpected frontrunner that would end up being our single from “Calm Down, Everything Is Fine”.

What do you think it takes to make it as a band these days?
Pretend like you know what you’re doing and hold on for dear life. That’s what everyone is doing, right?

Anything else you want to mention?
If you come to a show sometime in the future PLEASE come say hi to us. If there’s two things we love it’s new friends and dancing. If there’s three things we love it’s new friends, dancing, and food. So if you decide to bring us a pumpkin pie or Sour Patch Kids while dancing you’re probably going to be welcomed into our family with open arms.

Stay social!
Facebook | Twitter & Instagram: @MikeMainsMusic

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