Monday, May 9, 2011

Spotlight On Local Artist - Bare Branches - May 2011

Bare Branches is our local artist spotlight for the month of May. They are a six piece band based out of Butler, PA. They just released their new record entitled Haunts. Producer Christin Nelson, by way of Las Vegas, caught a set by the band in the Summer of 2010 and volunteered to come to the Pittsburgh area to produce the new album. For 2 weeks the band worked with Christin to create the lp in an old 19th century church.

Lead man Christopher Wagner was kind enough to answer our questions about the band and new album. Please find Haunts streaming throughout the interview. Find more information about them at:

How did the band come together? Were you all friends that went to school?

Friends and their friends. I hope that's not too confusing, but it's how this all came to be. We're a figurative family that spans a decade from the oldest members to the youngest. We love each other and what we're doing.

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?

 Moody and atmospheric. We write and play songs with the intention of making a connection. We want people to know and sing the words.

Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?

Yes sir, on both accounts.
 Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture?

 It's part time earnings, full time hours.

Do you have day jobs?

Yes and no. Two of our members are finishing college at the moment.

How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?

I write the lyrics after a bout of inspiration or singing in the shower. I bring material to practice and our guitarist Jon either already has a lick or asks for a mood or tempo. Within thirty minutes, the band is playing the skeleton of a new song. This is when it goes well. We've written and spent countless hours on dozens of songs that have never turned out. Building songs that you care about takes so much time, but the best material happens pretty spontaneously.

What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish?

We're actually in the process of working out new goals. We've met the first set and putting out this record has lifted a great weight from our shoulders. It's been the icing on the cake.

Are you trying to get signed to a label?

If we could see the benefits in doing so. If we could find a label that works for the artist and was interested in our DIY approach, then sure.

What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?

Well, I guess that depends on what "making it" means. If you want to be respected and craft music that you're proud of, then don't be satisfied. Always look ahead. This can only happen through practice, patience and perseverance. Be humble because you're nothing and if you "make it" you'll still be nothing. Celebrity is illusion.

Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?

We've been regional, though we have played national festivals the past few years. We are doing a small mid west tour in late June/early July.

Being in the Pgh area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed?

 No, though living an hour outside of Pittsburgh we have found it difficult to connect with the various networks in the city proper. But we've had some great shows and we want to reach out to some of the other great bands in the area.

What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?

The only real obstacles we've faced have been self imposed. It sucks to shoot yourself in the foot and sometimes we do that. We need to be more proactive in grabbing city shows when they are offered. Our lack of communication has cost us more than one good show this year. So yeah, I guess that's a goal we have to answer the question above.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

Well, this is the year we hope to find all that out. But, from the dozen shows we've played under our old moniker, it seems that the Pittsburgh music scene is healthy, which is an encouragement.

Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?
Hard to say, every venue has treated us really well, honestly. We enjoy the vibe of Club Cafe and the Smiling Moose. Brillobox is the music space that should be in every Wes Anderson movie.

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