Sticks n' Stones Recordings
In an exclusive interview with AOL, Branch -- in the midst of a summer tour which sees her playing a stint of dates with the Goo Goo Dolls -- explains her decision to transition back to pop following her split with Wreckers bandmate Jessica Harp. Branch also reveals she has quite the green thumb and is a big proponent of eating organic, especially when it comes to her young daughter. As well, the California-based beauty extends Kelly Clarkson an invitation to be her "new Wrecker," and explains why Jack White was "teasing" her on a plane ride once.
Are you excited to be back out on the road?
I have kind of a love-hate relationship with it now that I'm a mom. It's hard. My husband plays bass in the band so we bring my daughter around and we kind of pack everyone up for the summer. As she gets older, it's getting harder and harder to do, just because it's so nice to be home and in our own little routine. And it definitely takes a few weeks to get back in the rhythm of it.
Does your daughter like touring?
She loves it -- it's just hard because there are no other kids out with us. I'm trying to balance all the stuff I need to do during the day, along with interviews and whatnot, with actually spending time with her and making an effort to go out and see museums and zoos and whatever we have on the itinerary for the day. It's just balance, like any working mom.
You've been really into gardening and growing your own food lately, and even had your own chicken coops installed in your home. Tell us more about that.
That's another reason why it's so hard to be on the road because as we were leaving, we were watching all of our veggies come in and we're like, "Oh man, these are all gonna be ripe like two weeks after we leave and we're not gonna be here for it!" I really think it's important for my daughter, to show her where food comes from and have that kind of connection and to try to eat local and organic whenever possible. Chickens were a fun way to teach that and have a family pet at the same time -- and the eggs are absolutely amazing.
Do you wake up early and actually go out and feed them and collect the eggs?
Oh yeah. I wake up -- depending on what time of year it is -- whenever the sun is out. I'm basically up with the sun. Right around this time of year I get up around 5:45AM and let them out.
Your new album comes out in the fall and is taking you back to your pop roots. Is that something that you've wanted to do for a while?
I always knew that I was going to one day come back and make a solo record, I just didn't know when it was gonna be. I was timing by ear depending on what happened with the Wreckers which was going so well that we assumed we were going to make more Wreckers albums. When my partner in the Wreckers [Jessica Harp] decided that she wanted to take a break from it and didn't want to be a recording artist anymore, I had all this country material sitting around that I had written specifically for that. I took some time the last few years to record that and get that out of my system. And an EP was released of that material.
Then I was kind of standing there going, "OK, now what?" And because I had spent so much time in Nashville and been working so primarily with that instrumentation -- mandolin and fiddle and banjo and all that stuff -- I just thought, "You know what? I want to get some electric guitars in here and some programming, and see what that inspires." So it wasn't a conscious decision: "I'm gonna go make a pop record." It was just like, "What's going to inspire me now?" I needed something kind of new.
Do you have any future plans for another Wreckers album down the line or is that project done?
The Wreckers isn't over in my mind but it is for Jess, so I don't know. If I was to do the Wreckers, it would mean me finding someone to fill her shoes, which is a hard thing to do. I read in an interview that someone asked Kelly Clarkson if she'd make a country album and she said, "I'd do it if I was in a band with Miranda Lambert or Michelle Branch." If Kelly Clarkson called me, she could be my new Wrecker.
You posted something on your Facebook about how you ended up on an airplane with Jack White a while back. Did you get to chat with him?
That was one of those moments when I saw him in the airport and was going, "Oh please, oh please let him sit next to me." Then [when he did] I was going, "Oh please let him be nice." I'm such a fan of his, and he couldn't have been sweeter.
You were right next to each other?
Oh yeah, for four hours. I was listening to my iPod on shuffle and anytime the White Stripes would come on, I would hurry up and pass it. I didn't want him to know that I was listening to him while sitting next to him. That would be awkward.
Did he ever lean over and try to glimpse at what you had playing on your iPod?
No, but he was teasing me because I had a Kindle and my iPod and my computer, and he had a book. And he has no cell phone. We were showing off pictures of our children and I was getting out my iPhone to show him pictures and he was picking out actual pictures from his wallet. He's like, "Yeah, I don't have a cell phone." He was teasing me because I was definitely technology dependent.
Leave it to Jack White to not own a cell phone.