Fans of the television series “One Tree Hill” — and the great collection of music that fills up each episode — will most like be familiar with the band Branches. The California based band have songs that can be heard in a couple of episodes from the past two seasons of the nearly decade-long running show! We got a chance to chat with band member, Tyler about their involvement with the show, the response from the dedicated OTH fan base, and their musical style. Take some time to read and I guarantee you’ll then want to kick back to enjoy the sounds of Branches.
Many of our readers will be familiar from hearing your song “Sleeper” in the premiere of the final season for the CW series “One Tree Hill”. But let’s introduce them to the band! Can you tell us a bit about your history?
Well, we’re a group of friends from all over the country that met at school in Southern California. There’s Natalie, who you all heard sing so beautifully on “Sleeper”, Jacob, Mitchell, Mike, Tyler, and me, the other Tyler. Two years back, we started playing music together in a living room in the suburbs of LA. When we realized how fun it was, we figured we should probably just call it what it was and make it official. So with only a handful of songs and no real idea of what we were doing, we became Branches.
Where did the named “Branches” stem from?
In the Spring of 2010, we played our first show under the name “Tyler + Natalie”…which, apparently was the most creative band name we could come up with..the show was a lot of fun and people seemed to really like it, so we realized we needed something a little more inspired than “Tyler + Natalie”. So we locked ourselves in to Mitch’s apartment and started talking about band names. As unromantic and uninspired as it sounds, we basically just shouted words and phrases at each other for a few hours until we had a few that we really liked. “Branches” was the one that seemed to make the most sense. We liked the picture it painted, we liked the way it made us feel, and we liked the symbolism…what it suggested about how all of us could come together to be a part of something bigger than ourselves – a branch by itself isn’t much, but together, branches can become a tree.
Who are some of your musical influences as a band or individually?
Lyrically, my writing is most inspired by Aaron Weiss of mewithoutYou (in fact, some of the symbolism in our band name is inspired by a similar concept from their song “Torches Together”). David Bazan, Jon Foreman, and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) have also had big influences on me. Other than that, I’ve always been drawn to the old hymns of the Christian church. Those poets understood the power of words, and the magic of good symbolism. Their determination to paint a picture of God through creationistic imagery gives me a target to aim for in writing about life and love and creation and everything.
Musically, we look up to guys like Sufjan Stevens, gals like Lisa Hannigan, and groups like Death Cab For Cutie, Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons, and Noah and the Whale. If you’re not familiar with their stuff, check it out! I promise you won’t be disappointed.
There’s something so sweet about the sound of “Sleeper” but also very haunting. It has such a poetic element about it. With songs like these I always like to know how they come about — what’s the story here?
I mentioned earlier my love for old hymns…this one is actually inspired by the story of Elijah from the Bible. Elijah, doubtful about God, is in a cave on the side of a mountain. It says that a strong wind blew, and a fire came, and the earth shook..but God wasn’t in any of those things…and then He hears God in a whisper, and you’d think he would get the symbolism, but it’s totally over his head and he carries on without recognizing the beauty in what just happened. We’ve all had moments where we’ve missed out on what’s really going on..but there’s always hope: “Rise, o sleeper, and see the dawn! And the darkness in our skin is now fading with the sun.” That’s really what we want people to get from our music – there’s always hope.
The music that plays during “One Tree Hill” are often played behind heavy dialogue so you have to really pay attention sometimes. “Sleeper” got this great montage where no words were spoken and it was all about the music. How did you feel when you saw the episode and found out your song got so much attention?
Awesome. We were just so happy to have our song on the show in the first place, so to see how long it was featured for, especially in the moments without dialogue was just really honoring. Such a crazy and fun experience!
It wasn’t the first time your music was played on the show; we heard the cool “Maps of Wars” last season. Did you generate a following of OTH fans?
Ya! And it was just as fun the second time around. It was fun to see the affect that having our song aired had on our fan-base. We’ve since had people email us, message us on Facebook, and even submit cover videos on YouTube- all because they are fans of the show and heard our music from it.
Had you watched the show before? Were you familiar with it?
I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but in High School, all the girls in my school were obsessed with OTH, so I attended my fair share of Season Premier/Finale parties. That said, those girls were usually just as excited as we were about our songs getting placed on OTH 🙂
I love your use of sound — especially the beats of your song “In the Morning”. Do these spark from random jam sessions or do you seek out a specific sound for each song?
I’d say it’s a little of both..We tend to err on the side of less traditional sounds and instrumentation, especially in the recording process. Between stomped feet, clapped hands, slammed shower doors, flicked bottles, clicked spoons, and shaken LEGO’s, we’ve gone out of our way to have fun in the sound-making process. We usually have an idea of what sound we’re looking for, but some of our favorite sounds in the recording process have happened as total accidents. That’s definitely made the studio a fun place for us to be.
Is there a particular song you’ve written that has personal meaning to you or as a group?
One of the things I decided as Branches was beginning, was that we would never put out a song we didn’t believe it..whether that be lyrics that we couldn’t stand behind, or an arrangement that we didn’t think would be fun for us to play for years to come…but I guess when it comes down to it, there’s always room for bias..For instance, both “In The Morning” and “The Inventor’s Daughter” have both created some really fun and magical live moments for us, and are songs that we are always particularly excited about having people join in to sing with us. Other than that, every time we get to shout the final line of “Dust and Light”, singing “There’s hope for you yet!”, I feel like we’re doing what we set out to do as a band…to spread the Hope that we have.
What are the future plans for Branches? Your “Cabin” EP was released in 2010 — are there any plans for a full length record to be released on iTunes soon?
As a matter of fact, yes! This past year we’ve been working on thirteen new songs which we are releasing Feb 10th as our first full-length, titled “Thou Art The Dream”. We released the single, “Helicopter” earlier this week via NoiseTrade, and we couldn’t be happier about the final product. So this next season is an exciting one for us…lots of traveling and singing and making new friends. And we’re crossing our fingers in hope that we’ll be able to make it out to your side of the states sometime soon 🙂