Everything tastes better when it’s homegrown, and The Low Branches are taking a refreshingly agricultural approach to financing their upcoming full-length, 100 Years Old.
In order to grow the funds needed to release 100 Years Old, frontwoman Christina Gleixner has been seeding Bandcamp with home recordings, each of which can be purchased for $1 (or more — you have the ability to name a higher price if you’d like to donate extra). The series started with a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Leah,” and it continues with an original entitled “Rock Bottom.” Gleixner was kind enough to answer a few questions via email about this latest recording, the status of 100 Years Old, and more.
You Hear That: I love the idea of selling home recordings to fund a studio project. There’s a really cool sense of progression and symmetry there. How/when did you decide to go this route?
Christina Gleixner: Well, I woke up one morning and decided on the idea almost right before I left for work. I guess it was impulsive, but I put up “Leah” and it got a great response. I’m hoping that it will promote the upcoming record and help with expenses. Any tiny bit of funding helps.
YHT: “Rock Bottom” has a wonderful background vocal track in the mix. What did you use to capture these home recordings?
CG: Thank you. I’m not fancy by any means. I use a condenser mic by Blue. It’s called a Snowball and I love it because it’s easy, quality, and it looks like a snowball. I record everything in Garage Band on my laptop. I am not tech savvy with recording and my home stuff is only ever used to capture sketches or outlines of songs. So that’s what these are.
YHT: Have you always been a Springsteen fan? I’ve been making my way through his catalog lately, but had yet to make it to Devils & Dust when I heard your beautiful cover of “Leah.” What inspired you to record that one?
CG: Springsteen’s Nebraska drew me in a while back and sent me to fall madly in love with a big portion of his work. I have a respect for all the usual favorites and a real fondness for Tunnel of Love.
I was exploring Devils & Dust, and the themes on that record are incredible. However, “Leah” didn’t stick out to me as a strong song among the group. Still, the writing really grabbed me. I couldn’t escape the words and melody. It’s a really beautiful love song. I always choose to cover songs based on the songwriting and if I need to adjust musically, I do. With “Leah,” when the words come out of my mouth, it feels like I wrote them. It becomes mine during that time. So when I sing “I wanna live in the same house, beneath the same roof / sleep in the same bed, search for the same proof,” that is a powerful feeling.
YHT: Your music seems to lend itself well to quiet, focused performances. Do you enjoy that environment? Does that mid-song silence from the audience feel intense to you, or is it calming, knowing that you have people’s undivided attention?
CG: Yes, you’re right on. I definitely enjoy that environment. It’s certainly intense, but in a good way. Without that quiet, I wouldn’t reach the same place as I do when I’m performing. I have trouble focusing among a noisy crowd, partially because it seems very strange to try and play our music over people talking. I get distracted. As a quieter band, we need to hear ourselves (and each other) to perform the songs correctly.
Another reason (and arguably the most important) quiet makes sense is that connecting to people through the music is what makes it so rewarding. Though I have that (terrifying) instinct to play music live, it isn’t something I choose because I want to get on stage and do something in front of people. It’s the audience-performer relationship that makes it worthwhile. So if there is a lack of connection, it’s hard to get into it. People don’t usually connect by moving and dancing at our shows, they connect by focusing. Although, we’ve been offered a backup dancer. So there’s that…
YHT: Where are you with 100 Years Old now? Do you have a time frame for when you’d like it to be released? Will vinyl be involved?
CG: We’re getting a lot closer. Josh Quarles of the group is recording and mixing a big chunk of it. We did some at Sound of Music with John Morand. Right now there is no specific time frame. We’re still making progress, but it’s all about time and funding. Since we all have jobs, it’s hard to for it to happen instantly. Ideally, I’d love to be able to do a small run of vinyl. We haven’t gotten that far in the decision making process, yet… but it’s right around the corner!
Listen to “Rock Bottom” below and click here to download the song and add a dollar’s worth of water and sunlight to 100 Years Old.