Road to ‘Renegade’: A.T. Branch is ‘Ready 4 War’
As an Army veteran, A.T. Branch has experienced life from a perspective different from most of us. As a child of a musical family, the Detroit native paints from a sonic palette that encompasses formative influences like gospel, R&B, and jazz; intense shades of rock; the polish of modern pop; and a hushed, yet powerful vocal tone that has drawn comparisons to Britney Spears.
Everything we just mentioned shows up on A.T.’s debut single, “Ready 4 War,” which releases to the world on Friday, September 20.
“A lot of different genres influenced where I got to, but ultimately, I really appreciate that an alternative sound doesn’t have the same rules that straight-out pop does,” Branch noted. “I like being a bit of a rebel, because I feel like that’s the only way I fit in.”
The single, recorded and produced by Chris Folsom at Nashville’s Underground Treehouse, is what Branch calls “the first glimpse” of finding himself as an artist beyond the demos he and Folsom had previously recorded.
“I convinced him to do production for me outside of just a demo. I knew we had some good bones here, and I wanted to build this into more,” Branch recalls.
The result, Branch notes, is chaotic by design. “Ready 4 War” storms out of the gate with a simmering, soulful pop vocal. The tension builds from there with scorching, fuzzy guitars, leading us into a refrain marked by big, thumping percussion and Branch’s powerful wail.
“I told (Folsom) I wanted there to be an underlying, ‘Radioactive’ Imagine Dragons vibe. I wanted some X Ambassadors guitar to be the base of it. I wanted it to be chaotic, because war is chaotic,” Branch said. “A trained ear might be like, ‘This is too much.’ But, war is too much, and so is love.”
No stranger to the difficulties we all endure in relationships, Branch wrote “Ready 4 War” based on personal experience, with the underlying theme that love does not come easily, and that the heart of a vulnerable person will never be won without a fight.
“I was really into someone in college, and they were a little bit fickle with me. We both ended up in the same country at the same time, and I was getting this request for a second chance at us being an option. I didn’t feel like there was a trust there,” Branch recalls. “I think so often, if someone breaks your heart, you say you’re done. But, if you really care about somebody, I don’t think it’s that simple.”
“To get to the point where you get my heart, you have to put in some work,” he continued.
“Ready 4 War” – alongside follow-up singles “Thug” and “The Flood” – are a part of Branch’s forthcoming Renegade EP, which is slated for release November 15. Branch notes that the EP is his chance to step outside of the box sonically, as well as in the topics he addresses, with songs touching on societal divide, addiction and dependency, and more.
“If I’m going to write a record called Renegade, I have to be willing to take risks,” Branch said. “As an artist, there are topics that men don’t (typically) approach. I’ve worked to be successful. The last thing I need now is to be a wimp because something’s touchy.”
Join us on the road to Renegade this fall, and get a quick sneak preview of the “Ready 4 War” music video below.