Michelle Branch is back with a new album inspired by divorce and new love with Patrick Carney, the Black Keys band member who produced the record in a friend's Los Angeles living room.
The singer made it cool to be a singer-songwriter back in 2001 with the release of her debut album, "The Spirit Room." Hit singles "Everything," "Goodbye to You," "All You Wanted" and "You Get Me" -- the theme song for MTV's reality show "Sorority Life" -- made her the voice of the MTV "TRL" generation.
Now both older and wiser, Branch is releasing her first solo album in 14 years on Friday. In a Q&A with TooFab ahead of the release of "Hopeless Romantic," Branch talked about her relationship with her ex Teddy Landau, what it's like working on a record with a producer who inspired by the lyrics, her finest "Total Request Live" memories.
TooFab: What was it like being part of the "TRL" generation? Is there a craziest memory that stands out from those early years?
Branch: It was exciting and surreal for me to go from watching "TRL" in my teenage bedroom to being in Times Square filming the show. There was an energy to being in that building that was palpable. My favorite memory was when I showed up and gave Carson Daly a guitar and taught him to play a few chords. He was genuinely surprised.
What's the biggest difference between making/releasing music now vs. 'The Spirit Room'?
It's easier to make music these days. You don't need huge professional studios and major label budgets. My new album was recorded in the downstairs living room of co-producer Gus Seyffert's house in Los Angeles. He lives in an 100 year old Victorian house and the whole process felt like hanging out with friends.
You've cited your divorce as the inspiration behind some of the new album's lyrics, were you nervous about approaching that subject?
It makes my job easier, as a singer, to perform songs that come from the heart. Splitting up with my ex who I had been with nearly 11 years did permeate its way into some lyrics here and there. Thankfully Teddy and I get along really well. He's a great father.
Some of the lyrics were also inspired by your new relationship with the album's producer Patrick Carney. Was it odd at all working on new music with the same person who inspired it?
No, it wasn't. I never came outright and said, "This song is about you" as we were recording it. I'm sure he heard the lyrics and wondered but he never asked.
Your daughter is 11 now, does she understand what mom does for a living?
Yeah, she's been on the road with me since she was just 4 weeks old. She's unimpressed. Living in Nashville, a lot of kids have moms and dads who are recording artists. It's quite normal here.
How did your Samantha Bee viral video come about?
The incredible writers at Samantha Bee rewrote the lyrics and sent them to me asking if I'd feel comfortable performing it. I thought it was hilarious and absolutely had to do it.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" recently turned 20. Do you have a fun story from the set at all from your performance of "Goodbye to You" at The Bronze?
I just remember that it was my first time being on a real set. It was all exciting.
"Hopeless Romantic" is out Friday, April 7.