Branch Davidians are a indie folk band that has grown out of a duo’s project. From a project concept to a full fledge band the Branch Davidians are a band that needs a cult following deserving of its name. We met up with the band to talk about their first album, their influence, and the evolution of Rochester’s music scene.
How did Branch Davidians get started?
Ben: It started as a side project for one of my old bands. It was just an acoustic indie folk idea we came up with. Laura was a natural choice because we have sang together before. We had sung together at an open mic I ran at the Doctor’s Inn.
Greg, who is our newest edition to the group, was someone who we also went far back with.
In the past nine months we have transformed into a full band.
We have made one record that wasn’t as fleshed out as what you would see now. That album was kind of a weird artistic experience. It was a concept record about a cult. We named it “Lets Start a Commune” It’s kind of dark and creepy, yet still funny and has hooks.
Greg: It is really creepy.
Ben: The whole concept of the band and our music was more based around religion and cults. Now it has become more experimental.
Laura: Our music has kept expanding and evolving.
Greg: It is a little more adventurous, there is no concept now. It still pops up from time to time in our new stuff, but it isn’t the focus point anymore.
Ben: There are some spiritual, quasi religious stuff that comes out in the lyrics, I don’t know if it is the Springsteen in me or what.
When did that album come out?
Ben: Just last year. It was a weird thing; we first got together in fall of 2011. I wrote all of the songs really fast, maybe two or three months. Then it only took about six months to get the whole album recorded and put out. Mastering it took twice as long as actually writing and recording.
Laura: The whole project was done over the course of one winter.
Ben: We are now just staring to record our newer stuff to give people a proper representation of our music.
Laura: The project is definitely snow balling as we keep playing shows and recording.
What part of the process are you at with recording your newest album?
Ben: We have one tune demoed right now.
Laura: We have been sidetracked with recording because we have been booked with so many shows. They are just spread apart enough where we c ant sit down and record. It will be exciting to get back into the studio once everything settles down.
Ben: We recorded one tune and already we are thinking of changing it around. That is the bummer of the recording process because you get a fresh idea and want to keep screwing around with shit.
Where do you draw a lot of your influence from both lyrically and musically? I mean you have a “class warfare” pin on your jacket, and your band is named after a cult.
Ben: (laughs) We are all music geeks. I think that is the primary reason we have this group. It is an interesting group because we are all pretty nice; it might be because we are all geeks. It’s a very different situation that other bands that I have been in. With musicians there are a lot of egos that get in the way of music.
I don’t want to say that we are not career oriented, because we still want to put out records and music, but I think the difference is that what inspires us is making the best song possible.
While some people I know spent their twenties getting the right haircuts or the right tattoos, I spent my twenties analyzing what makes a good song, or at least trying to. There is so much that inspires us as a band. I really like the greats in music. I see no reason to try and aim lower.
There are bands that have maintained an artistic integrity but still in a sense make pop music. Pop music in a sense that anyone can enjoy. Beatles, Elvis Costello, Tom Watts, Steve Wonder, Prince, Anyone who has long careers but still have a relevancy.
Greg: Every artist has some missteps in their career, but it shows the merit of an artist who can work through it and keep creating.
Ben: To answer your question there is so much that influences us that we cant pin one thing down.
What do you think of the local music scene?
Ben: I think it is pretty strong.
Laura: there is a lot going on.
Ben: I think the Bug Jar has a lot to do with the best of it. Just in terms of who’s running the venue and how the venue is run. They are not afraid to shake it up a bit and let new bands on the bill.
Greg: I throw my two cents in about the music scene as an outsider to it. I remember in high school going to the Penny Arcade and the Montage, and Steel. I got the distinct impression that everyone in a band in Rochester was pretty terrible. Then when we started playing at Bug Jar a lot I noticed that the bands playing there were awesome.
I don’t know what the entirety of the music in Rochester is like, but the bands that I see now are really good.
Ben: For the longest time I was under the impression that Rochester was five years behind the rest of the world. When I was in high school, my older brother Aaron was going to a lot of shows and he would bring me back a tape and it would be a grunge or a metal band. I mean Nirvana happened like five years before that.
Now there are a lot of people making relevant or new sounding music in our scene. I have heard bands that come out with sounds that I have never heard before and it is amazing.