By: Kevin Rolfe
Branson Anderson is an Americana singer-songwriter based in Ogden, Utah. It’s been said that he’s a mix between Devendra Banhart meets Shakey Graves meets Bob Dylan meets Jack White. As I did my own studying up on Branson leading up to this interview I found his lyrics and vocals to be infectious. The longer I listened, the more I was hooked.
Today is a special day in Branson’s musical journey. He has released his new album Applecore, Baltimore which was produced by Utah’s own Joshua James. And tonight (September 20) at the famed Kilby Court in Salt Lake City, Branson will be having his album release party. From what he states in this upcoming interview, he has something really special planned. Ticket details will be included at the end of this interview. If you like Americana or American Roots music, I truly believe you’ll enjoy Branson’s new album and tonight’s concert.
Not only were we privileged to chat with Branson leading up to his show, but we are honored to be debuting the new video of Branson’s latest single, “Don’t Go to the City”. Check out the video, then enjoy our conversation with Branson Anderson. I know I did.
Utah Concert Review: Hi Branson, I’m happy to be interviewing you. I love seeing musicians from here in Utah getting some run. I’ve been noticing a lot of buzz about your upcoming headlining show at Kilby Court on September 20. This seems like a really exciting moment in your music career.
Branson Anderson: I’m glad to be interviewed, thank you for having me. It is an exciting time for me, thank you.
Utah Concert Review: Has being from or living in Utah influenced your music both in subject matter and in style? If so, how?
Branson Anderson: Musically, no it hasn’t influenced me, but lyrically yes it has. The music that inspired me was a lot of folk music from the 60s new york scene copied from the early southern blues and folk artists and then the early rock and roll and golden age country music that came out of the south. That’s what I find myself listening most often to as well as some Detroit and New York punk music because those genres seem really similar to me in structure and simplicity as folk music. I experience the same emotions when I listen to these different types of music. I like to believe that good and sincere punk rock is the folk music of the city. To me, these genres are practically the same. In my mind, I consider Leadbelly a punk rocker and Iggy Pop a folksinger.
I try to write and sing what I know, which isn’t hitching down gravel roads or living in poverty so I avoid writing songs about that unless I’m telling a story about someone else. I write what I know from living in Utah (I’m originally from Logandale, NV), but it isn’t so much Utah that’s inspiring, though it is a wonderful place very dear to me. It’s more the fact that I live here now more than anything else. I would be writing songs about any place that I lived because those would be the circumstances.
Utah Concert Review: Do you have a particular format when writing songs?
Branson Anderson: There’s no format to writing songs. It’s different every time.
Utah Concert Review: Do you prefer to collaborate or work alone?
Branson Anderson: I prefer to write alone. I’m never on the same page as another person and having another person writing with me makes me insecure about my writing which is one of the only things I feel confident in. When one is insecure about something, they hold back. So I prefer to be alone and use my own approach at a song so I don’t have to hold anything back. When I look at other people’s approach at and styles of songwriting, I see how different it is than mine and that’s fine that that works for them. It just doesn’t jive with me and I hate more than anything to pretend like I’m into something when I’m actually not. So I try to avoid collaborating.
Utah Concert Review: For those who have yet to see you live, what can someone expect from a Branson Anderson concert? And do you have something special planned on September 20 for your album release?
Branson Anderson: I usually perform solo acoustic, but for the release show I’ll be as a three-piece band. I will be playing acoustic songs as well, but it will be a little more rockin’ than my records. Hopefully more like the song ‘Wild Woman’ from my first album and less like the soft stuff. We’ll be doing a couple of brand new ones that no one has heard before as well as songs from Applecore, Baltimore of course, the new record. I do indeed have some special things planned for the show but I can’t quite disclose what they will be. If I did, the context would sound weird and I’d rather the audience be surprised, maybe even shocked, I dare say. In a good way of course. Especially the people that know me personally. I will have the stage decorated with props and such. I want to give the audience something interesting to look at. The public can expect that whatever they’re going to be seeing September 20 will very much be worth the $7 of a presale ticket. That is my solemn vow and guarantee to any concert goer and I say this with utmost confidence. Timmy the Teeth and the Lovely Noughts are worth far more than that on their own.
Utah Concert Review: What was your favorite part of making Applecore, Baltimore? And what should your fans be looking forward to with this release?
Branson Anderson: My favorite part was the live tracking. Its a pretty stripped-down album, just the way I like an album to be, but the numbers with the drums and bass backing were tracked mostly live so there is a rawness and energy captured which you didn’t get a lot of on my first record because we recorded it track over track. I was able to get into it more and felt like I had an old experience which is special to me. I had a camaraderie with Joshua James the producer and Josh Snider, the engineer, that I didn’t have from the sessions of the first album. We were three friends hanging out making music together to see what happens rather than strangers making an album.
I think there are some things that sneak up on you on the record. Music lovers will be pleasantly surprised, hopefully, by the different elements and stages of the tracks on the record. My hope is that I give the public something interesting. You know when you have music on and you forget that its there when your mind is wandering and you’re working on other tasks? Then some song catches you with an oddness or an attractiveness that pulls you away from what you’re doing and back into the music. That’s what I hope to give my fans with this album. I reckon I could say that about anything I make.
Utah Concert Review: Do you remember the first concert you attended? Was this concert the thing that inspired you to do what you do now? If not, how did you decide you wanted to be a singer/ songwriter and pursue this professionally?
Branson Anderson: I have a cousin who was in a punk band in my hometown called The Neatos. He and his wife actually run the vintage shop in Salt Lake called Copperhive Vintage, a great store by the way. He’ll be at the show, himself. It’s funny I never thought about this before but his band was probably the first concert I saw and probably the reason I wanted to be in a band. Some bands organized a show with other groups from Vegas to perform at what is now a museum but once served as the school for everyone in Moapa Valley, where we’re from. I legitimately liked his band and still do and thought that being in a band would be cool. I also have to mention that my brother got me into music and he played guitar. He taught me how and we were in a band together for a while.
When I discovered Bob Dylan is when I got serious about songwriting and didn’t see why I couldn’t make music for a living, and make songs just as good as the next guy. I always wanted to be cool and special like my heroes seemed to be. My sister thinks I’m cool and my mom thinks I’m special so I can check those off my list. When I first started out and decided this was what I wanted, I was starry eyed and naive. My mentality and perspective was different than it is now. I wanted to have an impact on people’s lives like Jack White and Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan have on mine. I was a little more romantic about it. Now I’m more jaded by it and aren’t so sure if I’m cut out for the lifestyle but I’ll always be writing songs and releasing albums for kicks as long as I can afford to and have the means.
Utah Concert Review: Do you remember your first time performing? Were you in a band? Was it an open mic? Was it a cover or an original?
Branson Anderson: I think the first time I performed aside from a school assembly was an open mic in Saint George at a place called Jazzy Java. I played guitar for my brother who sang ‘Landslide’ and then I performed a song I wrote called Hummingbird. My family always tries to get me to play that song even still and I hate it so much. If that song ever resurfaces I will have to change my name and move to South America and if anyone finds me I’ll die.
Utah Concert Review: What has been the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Branson Anderson: Best concert I ever saw aside from Jack White in San Francisco was either Justin Townes Earle at the Gallivan Center when he performed solo (I liked that even more than when I saw him with a band at the State Room) or Seasick Steve when I was in Holland at a venue called The Paard Van Troje (the Trojan Horse) in The Hague.
Utah Concert Review: What has been your best/ favorite experience performing live?
Branson Anderson: Once, I was performing in Vegas at a church called the Sanctuary with my brother. He drummed and I beat on the guitar and yelled. We were called The Wreck Chords. We were just starting out, it was one of our first shows. there was a special moment when I was soloing very aggressively and I fell down on my knees and kept strumming like a maniac. When I looked up I saw everybody in the audience had gathered in super close and was holding their hands out towards me wiggling their fingers at my guitar while I was playing. It was the first time I had “rocked out”. I felt like I had discovered something really amazing about myself and about performing. I remember reading a Jack White interview in a Guitar Magazine about how he described soloing as “attacking” his instrument. I knew EXACTLY what he meant by that. I hadn’t experienced anything like it before and it felt like I was right where I was supposed to be doing what I was supposed to do.
Utah Concert Review: Thank you so much for taking the time, Branson! Love the album and really looking forward to the show!
Branson Anderson: Thank you again for the interview! I am very grateful.
You can find Branson’s album, Applecore, Baltimore where every you buy or stream music!
Branson’s album release is tonight (September 20) at Kilby Court. To purchase tickets to what will no doubt be an incredible evening of amazing talent and supurb music, click here!