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Mike Mains & The Branches

March 28 @ 8:00 pm

We recollect memories like paintings on the hall of a childhood home. Certain colors and details stick out to us, while others lose their luster over time. Nevertheless, we appreciate what we do remember as it indelibly shaped our present and eventual future. As vocalist, songwriter, producer, and namesake of Mike Mains & The Branches, Mike Mains thinks aloud in his songs. He ponders events and experiences as well as their ensuing effects on his identity, telling intimate stories through artful pop rock. After generating millions of streams and consistently captivating audiences on tour, the band recognize, accept, and absorb these formative mementos on their 2023 fourth full-length offering, Memory Unfixed [Tooth & Nail Records].

“There are two ways of looking at it,” he notes. “I can be resentful, bitter, and angry about a lot of what happened to me growing up, or I could be grateful that I have a life filled with memories. Some of them are broken, and some of them are amazing. I’m fucking here, man. I’m breathing, I’m existing, and I get to make art and share it. On top of that, I have an incredible wife who loves and supports me. If we allow ourselves to become friends with our own unfixed memories, there are lessons we can learn and carry on. I went through a painful period and came out on the other side of it as a better person with a beautiful portrait of that season in the form of the album.”

Mike Mains & The Branches have always bottled complex emotions and relatable stories within hummable homegrown anthems. They have organically progressed over the course of Home [2012], Calm Down, Everything Is Fine [2014], and When We Were In Love [2019]. Billboard hailed the “buoyant pop” of the latter, while Atwood Magazine praised its “upbeat, energetic, feelgood pop-rock.” Among many standouts, “Briggs” generated north of 4.8 million Spotify streams as “Breathing Underwater” and “Live Forever” each surpassed the 1 million-mark. After trading his native Michigan for Nashville, Mike underwent another era of transformation. Stuck at home mid-Pandemic, he retreated inward and began to understand his past and, ultimately, himself a bit more.

“Once COVID hit, I finally had the opportunity to allow some things to start boiling over,” he elaborates. “I got serious about therapy, my mental health, and my well-being. I acknowledged wounds that had been on the backburner for my entire life. I’ve been on my own since I was 16, and I come from a family of physical and mental abuse. By living alone and crashing on couches over the years, I’ve cobbled together a wonderful surrogate family. Growing up, my dad was like, ‘You’ll never make it’. Part of me was pleased to find success, move to Nashville, buy a home, and support myself and my wife off rock ‘n’ roll. Nevertheless, all of this pain came up. So, these songs are little vignettes and snapshots of not only the relationship between my wife and I but what was happening in the world with George Floyd and America’s heartbreaking response.”

To capture these emotions, he reteamed with producer Nathan Horst, but Mike co-produced for the first time. “It was per his suggestion,” adds Mike. “It gave me a lot of courage and confidence to continue taking the reins when it came to my music.”

Now, the band introduce Memory Unfixed with the dual singles “We’re Alive” and “Always My Forever.” On the former, he lyrically sets the scene, “Those streets where we used to ride our bikes haunt me, they’ve been keeping me up at night.” Meanwhile, a buoyant beat and bright guitars underline an unexpectedly triumphant and chantable chorus, “Caught up in these memories, maybe it was more than just a dream, we’re alive.”

“I had some painful things happen to me in my teenage years,” he sighs. “The song goes back to the pain of adolescence, but the explosive joy as well.”

On “Always My Forever,” softly strummed acoustic guitar brushes up against delicate piano as he croons a sweet homage to his wife.

“It celebrates the way I feel about her, but it’s universal enough you can see yourself inside of it,” he continues. “It shows a lot of gratitude for Shannon.”

Then, there’s the upbeat “Talk To Me.” A shuffling riff locks into a head-nodding beat. He threads together relatable, yet obtuse imagery of “characters going through a hard time and trying to navigate life together.”

Co-written with Jason Singer of Michigander and Shannon, “Lonely” channels Pandemic-era isolation into a plea for connection.

“It encapsulates the way the three of us felt during COVID,” he notes. “We were lonely and craved connection.”

The opener “Lost Boys” materialized as the first composition penned for the record. The vocals teem with raw emotion over ethereal echoes of guitar, glowing synths, and a hypnotic backbeat.

“Anybody who grew up in America is familiar with the story of Moses,” he says. “He does what he’s supposed to do and literally dies at the edge of the Promised Land. It’s a powerful metaphor and warning for me. I don’t want to die at the edge of the Promised Land. I don’t want to let my fears, regrets, or mistakes hinder me from entering my own version of the Promised Land. I want to be a loving husband and, someday, father. I want to write songs that can potentially help people.”

In the end, Mike Mains will continue to do just that.

“I’m just a husband, a wounded healer, and a grateful storyteller,” he leaves off. “If these songs make you feel less alone, I did my job.


March 28
8:00 pm
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Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th st
san francisco, CA 94107 United States
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