Interview by Noah Essenmacher

Robbie Pieschke is the driving force (guitar and vocals) behind the local indie rock band I Am the Branch, which includes Tyler Germain (bass / party ), Aaron Warner (cello / smart remarks), Aaron "Baby Veers" DeVries  (guitar / vocals), and Garret Shetler  (drums / disaster recovery). Pieschke jokingly refers to their genre as "literary rock" because he himself has a literature degree and Germain is an English education major. Indeed, The 11 tracks on the just-released sophomore album Only Connect are full of literary references, but more than that, they express both the bond of brotherhood among the musicians and hopes for listeners to connect to their music, to other people, and to their true purpose in life. 

Noah Essenmacher: Where does the title Only Connect come from?

Robbie Pieschke: The album is very literary. The term "only connect" comes from a book by E.M. Forester [Howard's End], and the theme throughout is to connect with people. I think that is a theme that extends beyond that book and into our lives. The songs are about connecting with friends, connecting with relationships, connecting with God, so that's a theme of our album as well. Besides, we just really liked the book. [laughs]

How did the band progress from Drink Tea to this album?

RP: This one was way more collaborative. Drink Tea was mostly my project. I did most of the instruments on that one. Since them we've added Aaron our other guitar player, a bass player Tyler, and our drummer Garret. I think that it sounds a little more aggressive than Drink Tea. That was a natural shift for us because of the conditions. 

Would you tell us that story you told on stage about "You've Got Red on You"?

RP: The song "You've Got Red on You" is actually a code from the zombie movie [Shaun of the Dead], which is funny because the song is very low key—it doesn't sound like a zombie movie that's for sure. The song is about living up to potential in life, and not wasting any time in your life and making the little time you have on earth count.

NE: And the follow-up song to that?

RP: There's this very cool piano track that my wife [Brooke] recorded—it's very pretty— It comes right out of "You've Got Red on You." The follow-up track, "After the Fire," is a nod to a local band from a few years back, and it fits in with "You've Got Red on You" because it's this redemptive moment.... We transitioned from a depreciative song to a redemptive song.

NE: Do you have a personal favorite track on this album?

RP: "A Certain Type of Homesick" is probably my favorite track on the album. It's the oldest song on the album. I wrote it when a friend of mine, Steve, and I were in high school, and my friend Troy also contributed to it. It is a band of brothers type song. We're spread out throughout the country now. Steve is even going overseas to get his Ph.D., so the song is about maintaining, about fighting for friendships. Not only that, I really like music to it. It's upbeat and it's got a cool guitar part to it that is influenced by bands that I like, like American Football and the Chicago indie rock scene.

IATB will perform on July 23 at Fischer Hall in Frankenmuth. Follow them on Facebook, myspace, and now YouTube with "Bridges."