Monday, August 29, 2011

Zoe & Evan

This is Zoe & Evan. 
They are two of the most wonderful people in the world. I promise. 
They are getting married in less than a month in sunny Australia. I wish more than anything else right now that all us branches could have an adventure and go "down under" to attend this glorious celebration. 
Zoe & Evan are a part of our family. They braved living with us in our van for a few months last fall, and life hasn't been the same since. We laughed, cried, and danced together. Evan sold merch in our trailer on the lawn of a house in a bear suit on Halloween, Zoe always made everyone laugh, and together they had the best dance moves of anyone I've ever met. It doesn't take you long to know that they are perfect for one another- together they are one. 
They moved back to Australia for a few years which makes me a sad panda, but alas, they shall return. 
My heart swells with happiness knowing they are finally getting hitched. 
On the 23rd of September I will raise my glass and toast to the union of the cutest lovebirds:
Zoe & Evan.

I love you two with all my heart.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oh, Panera Bread

   We were headed to a show in Wilmington, Ohio yesterday. Nothing unusual, just hopped off the highway and stopped by a Panera Bread. While in line I was asked for my name. The young lad working asked if I played in a band. I said I did and he asked if it was Mike Mains and The Branches. I said, "yes sir". He said he was a big fan. He ended up introducing me to just about the entire staff whom he had proselytized into MMTB fan's seemingly overnight. So, I hooked him up with a shirt and invited him to our show that night.

   He and his girlfriend came out and we got to hang some. For this young lad I hope the evening was a blast. But David, if you are reading this I want to thank you. I was having a pretty decent day. Yet, you brightened it by helping me realize something so profound: what I do is so much bigger than who I am. Even if I die tomorrow no one can take "Home" and the songs away from me or the hands of all that welcomed it.

   This record is a direct reflection of some of the darkest and most painful experiences of not only my life but our entire band's. You, my friend, have shown me that we can make an impact. The fact that simply obeying what we felt posssed to do meant playing a song that make you smile makes it all worth while.

   I hope that college goes well for you. I hope things work out for you and your sweet girlfriend. I hope your family is healthy, safe and sound. My advice to you is to never quit. No matter how high the tide or how steep the mountain. Continue putting one foot in front of the other. And finally as my dear friend Rev. Jon Moore says, "Walk in love, Walk in truth, and in forgiveness."

- Mike

Thursday, August 25, 2011

MMTB Is Proud To Introduce: Nate Dogg

Hello everybody! We would like to introduce you all to Mr. Nate Wethy. You may have seen Nathan at shows with us recently strumming on the ol’ bass guitar. He has been doing an awesome job, and since he will be joining us for our upcoming tours and contributing on the blog, we thought we would take the opportunity to introduce you to him. We think he’s a stand up guy, and he has the MMTB stamp of approval!

Nate, thanks for taking the time to share with us a little bit about yourself. First off, can you tell our readers a little bit about you, where you’re from, what you do with your time, etc.?

Well I'm really into barbecue potato chips, Now and Laters, sunflower seeds and Glacier Freeze Gatorade. Now that that is settled, I am from Lansing, Michigan, which if you have never been there, you definitely need to not check out. My Mexican heritage is important to me. (1/8th, no biggie) So everyday I spend 1/8th of the day (3 hours silly) doing Mexican things. Shakin’ the Maracas, wearing the sombrero, etc. The other 7/8ths of the day I do white boy things. Sleeping, wishing I had better dance movies, making spreadsheets, working on my comb over, you know, the usual. 

I know you tend to introduce yourself by immediately acknowledging your ridiculous nickname. Can you tell us about that nickname and where it came from?

I am not sure which nickname you are a referring to, I don't recall having any ridiculous ones. But my real name, Nate Dogg, well that came from my parents, they started that one. Now all the people of the world call me that, everyone from my 75-year-old grandpa, to my 3-year-old niece, not to mention every boss that I have ever had. That being said I have the upmost respect for the late rapper Nate Dogg.

You have been known to consistently wear hip-hop-influenced jeans and flat-brimmed hats slightly off centered, and you recently sold merch for a Wiz Khalifa concert. Are you aware that Mike Mains & The Branches is not a rap group? Are you trying to use this band as a stepping-stone to launch your personal hip-hop career?

I’m just all about that swagger, my friend. My only goal as far as my rap career is concerned is to become "rap support" for some famous rapper. Nothing sounds better than waving a flag on stage behind Weezy, dropping in the occasional “whats,” “uhs,” and shout out to my home town (517, Southside till I die, that’s just how I get down.)

Oooookay. You have spent some time on the road with us now, how has the experience been, and what do you look forward to about the upcoming tours?

I’m looking forward melting the faces of the youth across the land. In addition to that, I plan to re-read the Potter series; yeah you can make fun of me all you want, just wait until I bust out the crucio or avada kedavra. In case you were wondering my patronus is a penguin. 

Do you have any good stories to share about funny or interesting things you have experienced with the band?

Well other than seeing a dead bald eagle, people getting thrown into the ditch on the highway, 2x4's getting shot through windshields and grandmas almost getting plowed over by SUVs…..? No. 

If you had to sum up the Nathan Wethy approach to life in one inspirational phrase, what would it be?

I am not a mathematician so I don't know about all that "sum" stuff but all I do is try to keep it real, don't take things so seriously, and work hard. Most of all: Do those things that the dead people can't!

Kaboom Baby

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"So, are you guys a Christian band?"

We hear this question on an astonishingly consistent basis. The answer is not a simple one, so I thought it would be appropriate to take a few moments to address it in a blog, since this seems to be a point of interest for so many. I find that when people ask us if we are a Christian band, they are really asking one of two questions, so I will address both seperately.

“Do you classify yourselves within the genre of Christian music?”
The short answer is no. We do not choose to use our faith as a means to sell music or advance our career. The Christian music industry targets a very specific crowd. There is a large segment of the population that will not listen to any music that is not labeled as “Christian.” There are entire festivals and radio stations that exist based on this principle. I recognize that the confusion on this subject stems from the fact that we willingly play at some of those festivals and receive airplay from some of those stations. We are infinitely grateful for both opportunities. In the same way that we do not discriminate against a non-Christian audience, we would likewise never discriminate against a Christian audience.

The truth is, we have some lyrics that contain very clear Christian concepts and references (i.e. cross, Jesus, baptism). We did not shy away from these topics in the process of writing our album, and I don’t imagine that we will in the future either. But we are not a worship band. We are more comfortable playing in rock clubs and bars than we are churches. All the same, the lyrics in our songs will always be reflective of what we experience in our lives. We will not compromise truth and honesty either to please the Christian market or to please the mainstream market. Honestly, we wrote like 50 songs for “Home” and just kept the best ones. So while there is a song on the record that says, “It’s not the cross that saves, it’s the man who came and wore it,” we also almost kept a song with the lyric, “She woke up in a bed with a pile of clothes on the floor. He was a coward who got up and crept out of an open door while she slept.” There was another song that contained the lyric “Oh, how I used to love all the benefits of spotlights, sailing deep into the dark night, stealing innocence from girls who said their daddy’s didn’t love them.” These songs just happened to not be as good as the ones that made the cut. We will never shy away from honestly portraying the lives that we have lived, even if that makes people uncomfortable. We cling to the hope that there is some level of redemption to be found in honesty. For better or for worse, you will know the real us. If our lives and beliefs are an encouragement to you, then that is awesome. But if our experiences and mistakes are a warning to you, then is that any less beneficial?

So, if Christian radio, Christian festivals, or Christian music outlets think that their listener base will enjoy or benefit from our music, then we count it a privilege. But we will not EVER define our art based on our personal religious beliefs. There is money to be made in doing so, and we have fought the temptation to cave to that pressure, just so we can eat. But at the end of the day, we would rather have to work other jobs to pay our bills than to whore out our religion for a profit. This is not to say that there is not a place for “Christian” bands. To be sure, there is. We are friends with many musicians who would not be fulfilling their calling if they were not in the Christian music scene. We will gladly support bands that are strictly seeking success in the Christian music world. But that place is not ours. Michelangelo was a brilliant artist; his work was primarily religious in nature. Michelangelo is not remembered as a Christian artist, but simply as an artist. Yet his work still moves and inspires the world.

“Are the individuals in your band Christians?”
There are currently three core members of our band, Mike, Shannon, and David. The three of us are all Christians. We are all active in local churches. I don’t want to speak on behalf of anyone but myself, but because I have discussed the subject with Mike and Shannon extensively, I can say with confidence that our faith is the center of each of our lives. It is my hope that our passion and love that are a direct result of that faith will be evident in everything that we do, musical or otherwise.

That being said, we have not shied away from bringing people on the road with us who are not necessarily on the same page. Currently, our touring crew also includes a bassist, Nate, and a merch person, Courtney. Again, it is not my place to speak on their behalf. But from the talks I have had with each of them on the subject, I have gathered that either because of personal experiences or unanswered questions, they are not in the same place in their journey of faith as the other three of us. And that is okay. We do not want to be so dogmatic or judgmental as to tell anyone that his or her experiences or questions are not valid. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is the asking of questions that leads to the eventual solidification of faith. Just because Courtney is not comfortable being super involved in a church or Nate is not comfortable voicing a group prayer does not mean they have nothing to share or bring to the table. Furthermore, just because a person does not maintain the same views as you does not mean that they have nothing valid to say. It is often the people that I disagree with on fundamental levels who open my eyes to new truths. It is my hope that Nate will soon start contributing to this blog as well. He is wise, funny, and occasionally insightful!

I encourage anyone reading this to examine what you believe. Do you follow your religion because your parents or friends do? When is the last time you stopped to evaluate why you do what you do? A faith unchallenged is a house built on the sand.

I hope that this blog clears up any questions that you may have had about our stance on this controversial subject. It is not our goal to offend anyone. If you have any further questions, or would like us to elaborate on some point, feel free to submit comments on this blog, and we will happily respond.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Mental Vacation

I'm not entirely sure I have the motivation to write some inspiring, life changing blog tonight. In my motivation's absence, I decided to list a few of my favorites:
-There's nothing more refreshing than a cold glass of Trader Joe's Pineapple Juice.
-There's nothing that warms me up on a cold day as much as a mug filled with hot chocolate.
-I would be satisfied living on a diet of popcorn, oatmeal, broccoli, bananas, avocados, perogies, and pizza.
-Harry Potter. The books. The movies. The theme park. Period.
-Let's all go to the park or the zoo! (Preferably one with pandas!)
-Give me all the cats and bunnies.
-Any Wes Anderson flick.
-Let's go surfing.
-I will bake you any cupcake you ask for!
-I want to see you smile and laugh.
-Sending mail to friends in far off places.
-Books. Books. Books. Read. Read. Read.
-Given the opportunity, I would buy every person in the world tickets to see Sigur Ros live. It will change your life.
-I try to cherish every moment I can spend with dear friends and family. Time passes too quickly.
-Let's ride bikes everywhere.
-Anything but texting.
-True love.

I miss David already. I know he'll do great in school, but for the next four months I'll miss one of my best friends forever. I hear we'll probably be heading to Texas this fall though! I cannot wait to get to Texas to see him, his parents, and his animals!


Friday, August 19, 2011

At The End Of The Day

I apologize to all for a lag in blogging on my behalf. I refuse to give excuses because one is just as good as the next. Things with the band have been great. We are preparing for some big things over the next few months, and as they unfold we will be keeping you guys informed. 

Remember when you were younger and you would look at an elderly person and think, "They are so old. I will not be that old in like forever." Perhaps the amount of time it will take for us to arrive at ripe old wrinkle age is seemingly forever to a bright-eyed youth. For me as the last five years have dissolved into a blur I have been made aware of my aging. 

I do not feel as young as I once did. I look at the world differently now than I did when I was 18. I care way more about social justice and conspiracy theories than I ever did before. My only reasoning for this is one simple fact. That as we age we become more aware of our mortality. This has certainly put things into a very pragmatic perspective for me. 

Life is short so we should enjoy it.  We should not squander precious moments away on being pissed off at our waitress who probably found out her husband was cheating on her. We were upset because she took an extra thirty seconds to top off our water. Yet on the other side of the planet is a little girl who hasn't had water in several days and is so weak she might not even be able to swallow water if there was even some available. 

All I am getting at here is perspective. Someone once said it this way: "I once saw a man complaining that he had no shoes until he saw a man who had no feet." Time is precious and it's short and it's fleeting. These moments today are ever slipping into an ocean of historical events only to be revisited by memories we tuck away inside our hearts. I propose we make these memories something to celebrate. 

Let's look back on these memories and see lives changed and hearts encouraged with the thread of truth that unites us all. Let's live every day and speak every word and sing every song like it's our last day. I play with a band of people who do nothing but simply love me for who I am through hell and through the sunshine. 

I do not know what you are facing, what you are going through. Yet, I assure you. it is salvageable. God is good. His word is truth. Let's live a life with open ears and closed mouths. Let’s let our hands do the talking and help those who cannot help themselves. At the end of the day I find when I provide a shoulder for someone to lean on that the weight of the world is somehow muzzled out by the comfort of knowing that someone else's weight just got a little less heavy. 


- Mikey

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

There's A Lot More To Life Than Being Really, Really, Ridiculously Good Looking

Hey guys, this is David. I wanted to take a moment to update you guys on something that’s going on in my life, and consequently the life of the band. Immediately following Purple Door Festival, I will be leaving for Texas to attend college this semester. I will be living with my family, who I have scarcely seen over the last couple of years because of how busy we have been with touring. I am very excited for the opportunity to go, and I wanted to publicly thank the band for allowing me the time off to pursue school. It’s like the wise Derek Zoolander once said regarding the importance of education: “I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.”

I will only be gone for this one semester, and after that I plan on returning to my comrades on the road. This decision will in no way affect the band, and Mike Mains & The Branches have some awesome tours coming up for the rest of the year. I am excited to see how much the band grows this fall, and I look forward to returning with great anticipation. As of now, no decision has been made as to who will be playing drums for the band in my absence. But of the names that have been discussed so far, I have confidence in every one of them. My drum parts aren’t super difficult at all, and my personal motto is that playing drums is 90% enthusiasm anyway! Please continue to support the band and come out to their shows. I think they will be selling a shirt with my face on it, so, it’s pretty much like I’ll still be there.

I will continue to write blogs, though probably not quite as regularly as the rest of the guys. I am hoping that Mr. Nathan Wethy, the gentleman playing bass for us now, will soon be contributing on here as well. Thank you all so much for all of your love and support. I will miss you all, and I look forward to seeing you on the road next year.

Grace and Peace

Monday, August 8, 2011

Endure & Conquer

There are some people you just can't give up on- the people who look in the mirror and only see themselves covered in the ash and dirt of mistakes they've made and things they think they've done wrong. However, no matter how much bad they see in themselves, I have scraped away the dirt and found gold underneath. Precious, beautiful gold. I hope one day they can see it too.
I don't know what to be other than optimistic in these circumstances; being pessimistic is like being content with letting yourself waste away in a pit of mud. I want to throw a rope into the pit and tell them everything will be okay- they just need to grab on and pull themselves up.
I can't give up. Love doesn't give up- it endures and conquers all.


Saturday, August 6, 2011


The older I get the more set in my ways I become. At times I desire to change. At other times I could care less. I have found myself becoming more concerned with the victims of social injustice as of late. Yet, I wonder still, am I only doing this out of some need to feel better about myself? Am I doing this to be like Bono in hopes that someday I too will sell out arenas?  Who knows. Who cares. I am certain that someone cares.

    What I know is that you will never change unless you want to. You will never develop unless you truly desire to do so. Stepping back from our own reflections reveals that our decisions affect more than just ourselves. They hurt or help the ones we love the most. Time is the greatest revealer of character. I only hope to continue writing music. To continue living life and helping people even though I feel in shambles at times. Yet, when I am lost I am found.

When I am weak. He is strong.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Do What You Were Made For.

The nature of our lifestyle is so strange. We have a lot of time off right now, and it feels very… empty. We had a band meeting yesterday, and it ended up lasting for hours. We didn’t really have all that much to discuss, but I think we just got to hanging out, and lost track of time. Truthfully, I think we were all subconsciously dragging it out, just so we could be with each other longer. The people I travel with have become my family. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

I have a handful of other relationships in my life, but our consistent touring schedule for the last year has ensured that I am unable to be particularly close with any of them. We go to exciting places, and often get the privilege of meeting some truly wonderful people. I fall deeply in love with the places and the people I meet, making it difficult to be away from them. I have only enough time to plant the seeds of friendship, never enough to water them. I sometimes feel robbed, as if I am owed anything. But lately I am being reminded of the gift that life really is, and how fortunate I am to have a single person to call my friend. I am blessed with people who care about me for reasons that I will never understand. I am overwhelmed by the love I feel from people who I have only interacted with in person once, or maybe a handful of times.

I miss Burk, my best friend for as long as I can remember. I miss my awesome parents, who I haven’t seen since May. I miss Blanton, my old roommate and surrogate big brother, the most fashionable dude in Cooke County. I miss Jessica, who I met in Lancaster and who is now living in Florida with her parents because she has a heart of gold. I miss the girl I fell in love with and hate the girl she’s become. I miss Josh and Trista Lamb, my Pennsylvania family. I miss Jay, the weird looking guy with one awkwardly long dread who had a significant impact on me, even for the limited time he spent with us. I miss Rob McFadden, the guy who spent more time eating chili cheese fries than he did playing guitar with us last summer. I miss Chase Burnett, the guy from Texas who I feel so strangely connected to despite our limited interactions. I miss Corinne Chase, the person who gave me hope for this world of ours, but who I haven't seen or spoken to in ages now. I don’t have a phone right now. I can’t call these people to tell them how much I care about them. And even if I could, it wouldn’t make up for anything. The truth is, I missed Jay’s wedding last week. We had a show. And there are similar stories with every one of my aforementioned relationships. Almost every person I mentioned could write a blog longer than this strictly about all the ways I have let them down, most of them as a result of me being in this band.

I’m not complaining. Even while recognizing the weighty consequences of my choices, I wake up every day and make the decision to keep doing what I do. I don’t regret any of it. I have to spend my life trying my hardest to make a difference, to live in such a way that people’s lives are impacted. I’m not good at math. I’m really not good at sports. I’m good at hitting things with sticks. And by some bizarre turn of events, I was blessed with the opportunity to do it as a job. The interactions that this band allows me to have with people like you are what motivate me to keep doing this. And I am so grateful for it.

I know this blog is longer than most. Thanks for sticking with me. I just woke up this morning (at 2:00 p.m.) and was feeling overwhelmed by the consequences of my lifestyle, and this is my way of processing it. I don’t have plans today. I don’t have plans for the rest of the week. There’s a dangerous sense of self-pity that tries to creep up on us in the midst of isolation. There is no noble decision in this life that comes without some negative consequences. It is exceptionally important that in the midst of that negativity, we remember the good for which we have sacrificed so much. Don’t just do what is easy. Do what you were made for.