If you babysit preteens after they get home from school or spend time with a middle school-aged sibling, you might have seen the video for Michelle Branch”s TRL hit “Everywhere.” It would be quite an accomplishment for the 18-year-old singer/songwriter if she didn”t have the double-headed corporate Hydra of Maverick Records (Madonna”s label) and Kenneth Cole supporting her, because with that kind of corporate pedigree some sort of success is all but assured.

Paul Wong
Michelle Branch is finger-lickin” good.<br><br>Courtesy of Maverick Records

Maverick”s more “real” answer to Britney Spears and her “inflated” friends, Branch comes off as a girl caught up in the business of rock, focusing on growing her career while trying to retain some form of street cred. Right. The Michigan Daily spoke with her from the road on her Kenneth Cole Unlisted Tour of Big Ten colleges.

The Michigan Daily: Hello?

Michelle Branch: Hey! This is Michelle.

TMD: And you”re in Wisconsin now?

MB: Uhh yeah! Wisconsin! I”m at a KFC in Wisconsin. I just ordered some food.

TMD: OK, well, then we”ll keep it short so that you can eat.

MB: OK, great.

TMD: Our article”s about your tour and how it came together and stuff and your upcoming show here in Ann Arbor. Your tour is only coming to Big Ten schools. Tell me about that.

MB: Well, Kenneth Cole approached me to do it. We”ve been planning this for over a year. Since before my album and everything.

TMD: Kenneth Cole approached you or they approached Maverick?

MB: They approached Maverick because they wanted Jude to do the tour. Maverick played them my stuff, and they were like, “OK, we want her too!”

TMD: What”s in it for you? Did Kenneth Cole give you free stuff?

MB: They let us go to the Kenneth Cole store and pick out things. I got an awesome leather jacket. But the Unlisted tour is mostly about shoes.

TMD: The Unlisted Tour is mostly about shoes?

MB: Yeah, Kenneth Cole Unlisted is a new line of shoes.

TMD: You”re doing the commercials for them, right?

MB: Yeah.

TMD: It seems like Maverick is marketing you as the not-pre-fab, down to earth rock and roller, but you”re on a corporate-sponsored tour how do you reconcile that?

MB: Huh?

TMD: Maverick is marketing you as the not-pre-fab, down to earth rock and roller, but you”re on a corporate-sponsored tour how do you justify that?

MB: Well, since we were approached before anything had happened yet my album wasn”t even out yet I thought this might be a cool opportunity.

TMD: What about the battle of the bands?

MB: I think it”s an awesome idea.

TMD: And your shows? How have they been? Jude?

MB: All the people at the shows have been awesome. Jude”s been awesome! He”s been doing these dance contests. Last night he brought people up on stage. It was awesome.

TMD: Have you met Madonna?

MB: [laughs] Yeah! I met her in New York before her show at Madison Square Gardens. She was really cool! She told me that she thought my CD was really cool! I was like, “Are you kidding me?!? Madonna thinks my CD is cool!?!”

TMD: Wow. Do you still get nervous on stage?

MB: Nah. I never really got nervous. I feel more comfortable on stage than anywhere else.

TMD: Since your tour is hitting colleges, are you checking them out, shopping for schools along the way?

MB: Nah. I actually when I finished high school, I decided I didn”t want to go to college. I wanted to focus on my music. College is something I can fall back on if I decide to I”d probably go to a music college

TMD: You”re 18, you”re popular on MTV”s teen favorite TRL, but your Ann Arbor show (and most of your tour) is 21 and up. What gives?

MB: Yeah. I”m kind of bummed about that. We made the plans before I had my album out and anything had happened I thought this would be my only tour

[pause, mumbling]

TMD: Oh.

MB: Sorry, I had a biscuit in my mouth. So, are you gonna be at the show?

TMD: Uhh yeahI think so. I”ll try.

MB: OK. Cool.

TMD: OK, Michelle, thanks. I think we got it here and you can get back to eating.

MB: OK. Thanks. Bye!

TMD: Take it easy.

If you like childproofed acoustic-rock, check out Michelle Branch”s show at the Blind Pig tonight. Unfortunate for her ticket sales, because they planned this tour a year ago and Branch didn”t know that her target audience was going to be TRL-loving 12 to 17-year-olds, tonight”s show (and nearly every show on her tour) is 21 and up. But bring her some fried chicken and she”ll see what she can do.

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