Thursday, September 13, 2012

Promotional Photo

A few people have asked us for the rights to use some of our promotional photos. So we wanted to release this photo for public use for anyone who desires to use it. -Mike Mains & The Branches

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To be content

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content."
- Paul

This passage really speaks out to me lately along with another:

"For they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."
- Mark 12:44

     The first one is huge to me right now. Learning to literally be content with my life regardless of circumstances. I find that my life can be pretty shallow at times.  I define a good day simply by the amount of events that coordinate with my idea of perfection. This "sunset" mentality of continuing to push forward until we reach the prize so to speak is a bit begrudging. Finding peace and contentment in something entirely separate from circumstances and finding solace within them seems to be quite the juxtaposition.

     It is easy to be enamored by the pressure of collecting a life's worth of accolades that we can brag about over a glass of wine with our friends. Yet, I am beginning to wonder if it's more about what we do not have as opposed to what we obtain. Edward Norton said it this way in Fight Club, "It's only when you have lost everything that you are free to do anything."

    I do not think Steve Jobs made computers because he wanted a lot of money.  Steve Jobs wanted to create something that brought people together and helped us all stay connected even more than we ever had. He was not trapped by dogmas or systematic legalistic theology. He chose to follow through with what he loved because there was an overwhelming necessity to create.

    In all of this I am thankful to be able to write. I am thankful that I do not have every single t crossed and every i dotted. Perhaps the beauty and mystery or life is how dysfunctional it becomes when we try to chart it out and make sense of it. Maybe the best way to understand is to realize we are not capable of completely understanding.

Like the widow that gave more because she had nothing left I wan't to leave  everything on the stage night after night. I want to put everything I am into everything I write. High or low, I am content and thankful to be alive and doing what I love.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Home Again.

It seems like we just left for our October run with Ocean is Theory yesterday, but all good things must come to an end. Thank you to everyone who came out to see us and laugh with us at all the shows. It was good to see old friends and make new ones. This tour was probably one of my favorites to date. So many wonderful memories were made: eating peach french toast, exploring Chicago with dear friends, sitting for hours in the lounge of the only Frank Lloyd Wright hotel still in existence, eating too many s'mores by the fire, and laughing so hard our cheeks hurt. I love replaying these moments in my head- they fill me up with warmth and love. Thank you, thank you, thank you all.

It's so bittersweet ending a tour such as this one- you're sad it has to end, but excited for what lies ahead on the next run. We're heading out again October 20th-November 13th down to Texas and back. We'll get to see our beloved David for a couple of days, which is something I've been waiting for since he left for a few months! I cannot wait to him, his parents, and all his hilarious pets a big hug. :)


Monday, October 10, 2011

Song Meanings

There have been a lot of folks lately who have asked us to share with them the meanings behind some of our songs. We have discussed the subject several times, and have considered publishing Mike’s explanations of lyrics. But truthfully, it’s a complicated issue. So rather than just avoiding the subject, I figured I would take a moment to address the idea as a whole.

Lyrics are a funny thing. When Mike brings songs to the band, there are some songs that he is really excited about, when the rest of us aren’t really feeling it. But sometimes, the songs that we find most moving and powerful are songs that Mike is unsure of when he shows them to us. This demonstrates an important concept in discussing this issue: the value in a song lies not within its writer, but within its hearer.

When I first heard Brand New’s song “Seventy Times Seven,” I was moved to the point of tears. The song was not the single off of the 2001 release, “Your Favorite Weapon.” They never made a video for it. They don’t play it live. But the year I heard that song, a friend’s brother had just been paralyzed from getting drunk and crashing his car. The lyrics of that song seemed to fit the situation that I was so heavily contemplating more perfectly than even my own thoughts did.

But I eventually heard a rumor regarding the actual inspiration behind the song. I researched and found that the explanation could not have been further from the situation I applied the lyrics to. In finding this out, my curiosity was satisfied, but something was lost. I no longer felt the chills down my spine, because I had no personal connection to the writer’s situation.

Some songs are very straightforward. For instance, Mike has explained the story behind our song “Emma Ruth” countless times live. It’s a story that is more impactful when elaborated on. But we have other songs that truthfully mean something different for every one of us personally. When “Stereo” was written, it came out of a period of personal conflict in our band, so its meaning is at least a little different for each of us. But that is perhaps the most beautiful thing about art. It’s meaning is subjective.

A song can mean so much more to so many more people when it’s vague enough that everyone can apply it to their lives. The best songs that have ever been written are ones that never actually lay out what specifically inspires them. When Bob Dylan sings the line, “You’re the reason I’m traveling on, but don’t think twice, it’s alright,” every person who hears it can relate in a different way. This would not be the case if he said, “You slept with my best friend, Dan, and then you took 40 bucks out of my wallet, so I’m going to get into my black ’62 Ford pickup truck and drive to Chicago, I have a gig there tomorrow night anyway. But don’t think twice, it’s alright,” we would lose our connection to it.

Last week a girl wrote to us and explained that she had been inspired by our song, “Beneath Water,” and that the references in it to baptism inspired her to get baptized. That is awesome. But another kid, who is an aspiring writer, finds encouragement in the lyrics “Well maybe I’m the writer that will spark that flame that makes the world believe in the right kind of faith.” That is just as awesome. Same song, two entirely different meanings. So what is important to ask is not what our songs mean to us, but what they mean to you. Therein lies their only real value.

That being said, we may, from time to time, discuss with you guys what specific songs mean to us when we find it appropriate to do so. And of course, ALWAYS feel free to ask us about it in person, and we will most likely open up more in that format. We want to be close to you, and we are always available to discuss anything you have going on in your lives. But as far as the music goes, its impact on us is no more important than its impact on you. So allow songs to move you in the way that you need to be moved, and when you come sing along with us, we can all sing the same words just as passionately, even when the meaning is unique to us all.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Guide to Nate Dogg's Favorite Snacks.

1. Gardetto's.

This is most certainly my favorite snack food. Almost everyone I know is partial to the small brown rye chips. Personally these are my least favorite part of this delicious snack. My favorite part is the "mini bread sticks".

2. Chex Miix

Traditional flavored Chex is my favorite. It is basically and unseasoned version of Gardetto's. Although Chex has about 16 different varieties of their mix. Honey Nut is my second favorite (not including the disgusting vanilla swirl cookie). The flavor that looks most interesting for me to try next is the Caramel Crunch.

3. Doritos

This is awful that I admit to liking these and I feel extremely guilty after eating them. You should too.

4. Texas Grilled Fritos

These Fritos had grill marks on them. They remind me of something, when we used to fire up the barbecue and throw down some Fritos. I can still see my dad with the apron on, better flip that Frito, dad, you know how I like mine.

5 Snack Pack

Chocolate, Milk Chocolate Variety, Chocolate Vanilla. Plus check out that name.

-Nate Dogg

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Studio Stay

So, we embarked on our fall tour with Ocean is Theory on Saturday morning at 7:00 AM and arrived to our destination in Chattanooga around 9:30 PM. We stayed at the studio where we tracked David's drums for "Home." No pun intended but it sincerely felt like we were coming home. We were greeted by Stephen Nichols, the producer who owns the space. He is a man every person in our band holds in high esteem and regard. Looking as intelligent as ever with coffee cup in hand and a majestic beard both combining together to create an overwhelming sense of warmth and comfort.

Over the past two years we have remained in contact. Text messages here and there. He would come out to shows and give honest opinions of our set and ways to improve. I remember talking about writing new music with him and discussing the more "business" related aspect of the industry, at which point he said, "Do not let anyone make you out to be someone you are not. Do what you love and let the chips fall where the lay." There are so few phrases that have stuck with me over these last couple years and this one in particular has worn well. Like the old family photo with just enough dust and wear that it shows signs of endurance and age but still resilient and able to embrace the future. We stumble across it from time to time as we are rearranging our room or setting our glass of water next to it. Yet, it serves as a valiant reminder of where we came from, and it lights future paths.

This morning we sat over coffee discussing production and songwriting and some of our favorite records. While pouring out my heart I ever consistently managed to spill my coffee on his shirt. Tripping over myself to clean him and the table off, I slipped back into my chair as gracefully as possible. We continued sharing stories and philosophy drinking our coffee like it was as necessary as air. As we left, my once heavy heart felt a little lighter. As if it was a huge bag of sand and someone gently cut a slit in the bottom of it to let some pour out. If only the cut were deeper that I might have been completely poured out.

I guess what I mean is that it felt how it must of felt like when the disciple's hung around Jesus and spent time together. True fellowship is rich and sinks deep into the bones and warms up your blood.  Conversations like these will I remember in my gray-headed years. I admire this man. I think he is one of the closest examples of how Jesus Christ Himself requires of us to live. I do not believe I want to be like him as much as I want to know the love that enables him to be as calm and graceful as he is.

We are here on this planet for such a short time. Let's stop being pissed off all the time and love one another. I can't say I left St. Elmo, Tennessee thinking I had it all figured out. I will tell you that I drank a cup of grape juice, ate a piece of bread, wept during an old hymn, dreamed about our next record and poured out my soul to a man who did nothing but encourage me to celebrate the beauty and mystery that is loving God. Thank God for that old family photo. Thank God for the camera that took it and the finger that pressed its button down to freeze it into the historical fabric of time. Looking over my shoulder into yesterday helps me to clearly see that sunrises are in the future, and I am willing to face every valley in between.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

On The Road Again...

Howdy, Pals!
Yesterday we all hopped into our van and drove 12 hours to Chattanooga, TN. It's been a few months since we "toured" last. Climbing back into that big black house on wheels was like crawling back into the comfort of something that once seemed so familiar- not familiar in the negative, complacent way, but in the way that makes you feel as if you just got a fresh, new surge of energy and comfort in your bones. I felt like I was stepping into a place I'd been missing for the past few months- the place where we are vessels of love, making small changing in this big world that we hope will amount in a big change.

I hope some of you will be able to make it out to some of the shows we have coming up. If not, I hope to see you sometime sooner than later. However, if you are planning on coming out and want to do something nice for us, here are some things we enjoy:
Cookies, individual jelly packets, gift cards, chips (original, bbq, salt & vinegar), fruit, any goodies, but most of all: HUGS. (On a side note, if you have a cat that you can bring out to a show I will shower it with love and hugs).
Also, if you are ever interested in seeing or purchasing anything from Wood Heart Jewelry I'll have all of the pieces traveling with me while we're out so feel free to ask me about them at a show!

Shannon Briggs Bolanowski