Interview with Mike Mains & The Branches: "Writing and Recording an Album Feels like Climbing Everest"
On April 5th, 2019, Mike Mains & The Branches will return with When We Were In Love, their first album in over 5 years. The album itself serves as an extremely personal account of the heartache experienced during a martial rough patch and joy that comes from the eventual rebuilding of said marriage. The result is an emotionally powerful release that finds the band finally creating something that they can truly be proud of.
Recently, Mike Mains & The Branches released “Breathing Underwater” from the album, which can be heard now below. With “Breathing Underwater” out now and even more new music on the horizon, we caught up with the band to chat about When We Were In Love and how much can serve as therapy. Read the full interview now below.
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about Mike Mains & The Branches for anyone who might not be familiar?
We are an indie-pop band from Michigan led by myself and my wife, Shannon.
You’re getting ready to release your new album, When We Were In Love in April! What are you most excited for fans to hear on the new album?
The song “Around The Corner” is the ace we’ve been holding onto in anticipation of the release. It feels like our most important song to date. It addresses my lifelong battle with depression and the light I’ve found inside the struggle.
When We Were In Love is a rather personal release, and you’ve referred to it as a form of therapy. Was the writing and recording process therapeutic? Did you learn anything about yourselves when working on it?
WWIL was a deep dive into some difficult and emotional territory. We all carry ghosts into our relationships, and if we don’t make friends with them (or try to learn from them) they have a way of haunting us. The process was helpful because it forced us to confront some heavy subject matter in a way that could apply to our listeners while being wrapped in the body of a pop song. Tom Waits once said, “I love beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.” I think more than ever we learned how to do that with this album.
What was the most rewarding thing about working on When We Were In Love?
Listening to the songs with Shannon on a late night drive and realizing that we had made the album we would want to listen to was such a rush. Writing and recording an album feels like climbing Everest. There are so many discouraging checkpoints along the way where you aren’t sure how it’s all going to shake out, but you somehow keep going. The most rewarding part for us was having a collection of songs that said exactly what we wanted to say.
When We Were In Love is also your first release in about five years! How do you feel you’ve grown between this album and Calm Down, Everything Is Fine?
As a songwriter I feel that I have found my voice, and as a band I feel that we have found our sound. I don’t want to duplicate this album by any means but if we are afforded the opportunity to be singing these songs with people ten years from now I’ll be glad to do it. I think the songs on this record will have a longer shelf life than anything we’ve done in the past.
What would you like listeners to take away from the new album?
Pain and suffering aren’t aspects of life to be avoided but rather embraced. Nothing beautiful is perfect. You are worthy of life and love simply because you are alive.
You recently released "Breathing Underwater" from the album as well! What inspired this track?
I wanted to write a song that summarized my mental heath during a rough patch in my marriage. The inspiration was to write a song that documented conversations I was having with Shannon and my therapist. It really feels like someone eavesdropped on my counseling sessions and turned them into a song.
Can we expect to hear any more new music before the album is out in April?
You most certainly can:)
Do you have any other big plans or goals for 2019?
I just bought a bunch of studio gear and am always writing, so the two main goals are to figure out how the heck to use this gear and to write a bunch of new songs in between tours. In the past I’ve dragged my feet to the studio and now I feel a responsibility to always be writing. I’m living the life I grew up dreaming about and I owe it to myself and our fans to be writing the best songs I can. That won’t happen unless I’m in the studio.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for taking the time. Yes, I’d like to invite anyone reading this to come out to one of our shows. It will be one of the best shows they see in 2019. I promise.