“You’ve got to live each breath as if it’s the last breath you’ll take so live your life to the fullest because you never know when it’ll end.” – Branch and Dean
So going back to our coverage of Vamos Festival, this week we have an interview with stars of the weekend Branch and Dean who really got the main stage rocking on the Friday night and headlined the barn stage on Saturday. These two have such a great time when they’re on stage, they’re so full of life and so fun that it’s hard for the audience not to enjoy themselves as their energy is infectious, the music isn’t half bad either! In fact their songwriting is fantastic, reminiscent of the old Country Honky Tonk style, they have the ability to write fun upbeat party songs and emotional tear jerkers. Below is a link to one of their biggest hits and check out what they had to say when they were in Scotland for Vamos Festival.
First of all I wondered if you could tell me a bit about your journey in music and how you got together?
Dean: We are Branch and Dean, we hail from Jacksonville Florida in the States. We grew up together and it’s funny because I thought if you was gonna be a Country singer you had to be like branch and sound like everyone on the radio and I couldn’t do that so I dived into the songwriting. One day Branch called me and he had one up’d me again, he had this idea for a song and it went a little something like this…
Branch: (begins to sing the chorus melody of Your Ole Lady’s Gone)
Dean: So our producer in Nashville, a great friend of ours, songwriter Michael Huffman we call him the Huffdaddy, he wrote songs like Tight Fittin Jeans for Conway Twitty and Adalida for George Strait. He’s like I don’t know who that is but get him up here so Branch and Dean was born, so we’ve been Branch and Dean way before we were the duo but the journey has led us here and all over the World, we’ve been really blessed to sing Country music and live our dreams.
Branch: It’s been great, we’ve been everywhere, we’ve been here (UK) a couple of times, Japan, Puerto Rico…
Dean: Alaska, one of the Rico’s haha
Branch: haha yes, I think it was Puerto Rico but we’re not sure!
Dean: And we love it over here, the people are so nice, it’s beautiful. We’ve had three singles out over here on hot disc and they’ve all gone to number 1. Your Ol Lady’s Gone went ten weeks number 1 which is our all time best. So we’ve been really fortunate.
That’s great! This next question will probably be different for both of you but what did your parents play to you growing up and what are you listening to now?
Dean: I always grew up with the old Country, I liked George Jones, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks, people like that, I love the older stuff.
Branch: I was adopted so I didn’t have a background, the family I was raised in wasn’t into music, but for fun when I was 6 years old I’d go and play CDs and stuff and sing to all the greats like Elvis Presley and The Beatles, all genres of music, I just love music and I fell into Country because that fits me best with my accent and stuff but I love it all, we both love all kinds of music. Good music is good music.
Dean: Growing up in Florida, you wouldn’t think this but the north part of Florida has a big bluegrass influence so we grew up on all that kind of stuff too, and gospel.
When you’re songwriting, where do you draw inspiration from lyrically?
Dean: You want to write stuff you feel and that means something to you so we try to be real about it. We both love music that emotionally says something whether it’s fun or it’s not. I personally like different lyrics that haven’t been done before so we look for that. We’ve got a few songs on the album like The Dash, we tell the story about that, we’re not really good enough to have written a song like that, it was a gift from God that had a purpose and music is intended to change lives and we knew when we wrote that one we’d be changing lives.
Branch: That song is very special to me because I lost my son to cystic fibrosis four years ago and he always wanted to be a spokesperson for cystic fibrosis so when he passed I kind of wanted to take his steps further and I called up the Cystic Fibrosis Chapter in Jacksonville Florida and Dean called the one in Nashville, we just told them we wanted to help and they made us National Celebrity Ambassadors so we get to go to a lot of places and bring awareness and raise a lot of money.
Dean: We’ve helped raise $4million and it’s led us all the way over here, when we played our show last night in Scotland the CF fund for Scotland came out and the proceeds from the audience went to CF.
That must be a very hard song for you to play live?
Branch: Well what I’ve learned in life because of what I had to deal with with my son, you may have a child that has a sickness of some kind but there’s a lot to learn from them and I learnt from my son that it’s not about you as an individual it’s about everybody else and you do what you can to help so singing the dash, sometimes I get a little bit emotional and I can’t help that but for the most part we make it through pretty well and I do it for him, that is the last thing I can do for him so I try to do it the best I can. We say a little prayer before we do any show and what that prayer is, is that we can touch just one life, if we can touch just one life with this song and everywhere we’ve been so far we’ve had at least one person coming up to us after the show telling us that song touched them. Someone once told me that if you can make at least one person laugh or one person cry through music then you’re doing something special, and we seem to do that every show which is a special thing.
When you’re writing do you have a set process or is it different every time?
Dean: It’s pretty much different every time, we’ve been doing it so long now it’s the kind of profession that you just hammer them out, it all just kind of falls out when you start something new, you try it with the lyrics and you try the melody. Everything is a song now though, a conversation, you’re like that’s a good lyric, what did you just say? And what we’ve found is the secret to writing is getting out there and having fun. Back in Nashville we go on trips, because music is supposed to be fun, it’s hard work but it’s fun so the more fun that you have the more songs you get out of it.
Branch: One of the things I found is, putting a story to music, there’s always a way to say it different.
Dean: If it can be done different Branch we’re going to do it different! But don’t rush a song, some hits have been written in 15 minutes and some have been written in 20 years! So never rush a song, let the song tell you when it’s done.
Branch: We’ve got a great word for a great line, we cal it a Tadonka, that’s a Tadonka!
A few strange questions now, what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever written a song about?
Branch: For me it’s got to be Your Ol Lady’s Gone because I’ve been married three times so my lady’s been gone at least three times, different ol’ lady’s and I’m not saying old, they’d be annoyed with me for that haha. But I was just driving down the road and I aways liked yodelling and I just thought hey that’s saying your ol lady so that’s how that came about.
Dean: I don’t know if I have one.
Branch: Well we’re going to have to work on that!
Dean: There was one that went something like I quit Carin’ for a little Joy in my life but she lead me straight to Faith, I lost Faith now I feel like starting Carin’ all over again. I don’t know it’s something like that!
Branch: what about that one, I know I’d miss her but she just won’t leave.
Dean: We’ve written some crazy songs over the years we wrote one called I’m going to make some woman a damn good wife, it was about a friend of ours who just cooks and cleans all the time.
What are your mid-gig thoughts?
Dean: I don’t know what he’s going to do! I don’t know if he’s going to stay on the stage with me.
Branch: Yeah I definitely let my mind wander. Yeah we do put on a show and each one is different every time mostly because I don’t even know what I’m going to do. With that comes a lot of good stuff and people seem to enjoy it.
Dean: I think they know that we’re having fun. We truly feel so blessed and humble to be here and every time we get on that stage we feel that and I think the audience does too.
Branch: We love people, especially the kids, they’ll come running down to the front of the stage and they have a good ole time. I said to Dean if this thing doesn’t work out we can always go into childcare, so we may open a Branch and Dean Daycare.
It has a nice ring to it! What’s next for you guys?
Dean: Lunch in about 30 minutes haha!
Branch: We do a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis, we get to play golf with our friends for that. We sing a little bit and tell our story and raise money.
Dean: We’re filming a TV show in Nashville before then.
You can check out Your Ol Lady’s Gone below and don’t forget to give them a like on Facebook as they were already planning their return visit when we spoke to them, and that’s a tour you don’t want to miss! There is also a link to the Cystic Fibrosis charity that the band advocate for.