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Small Town Local Brothers Pave Their Own Path in Country Music

Nov 03, 2016 04:00PM ● Published by Nicole Gould

Photo Credit: Jim Wright

Before recording a Grammy-nominated, No. 1 hit single, “Stay a Little Longer,” John and TJ Osborne were just your average southern brothers, growing up in a small fishing town of Deale, MD.

After writing and performing for friends and family, the two decided to take their songs to the stage…together. Both John (guitar) and TJ (vocals) quickly grew a fan base. Before you know it, Brothers Osborne was formed.

Little did these small-town brothers know they would soon be named as “Ones to Watch” by Rolling Stone, Billboard, Spotify, Paste, Country Weekly, and Nashville Lifestyles. The duo most recently received the honor of Country Music Association Awards (CMA’s) “Vocal Duo of the Year”.

John and TJ are not your average country duo. They’re combination of country, rock, and everything in between, sets them far from traditional country music.

“When our songs are played on the radio it’s an amazing feeling because we did it with as much integrity as we had. That to me, is greater than any amount of money or anything.”
– John Osborne

Brothers Osborne is coming back to the region to perform at The Fillmore Silver Spring, Saturday November 5th, as part of their first ever tour, "Dirt Rich Tour". Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.

What’s Up? had the opportunity to speak with John from Brothers Osborne. Take a look at what he had to say about his career.

Photo Credit: Jim Wright

 

Where did you first learn of your talents to play guitar? Which do you like better, electric of acoustic?

When we were kids, we were around music all the time, our dad played the guitar. I wasn’t too much into it and then they wanted us wanted to play an instrument, so we played the violin. We were terrible at it. But then I don’t know, something kind of resonated when I picked up guitar. My dad showed me a couple of chords, showed me a scale, and I was off. Everything I wanted to do in life changed at that moment. When I was 12-years old I realized a guitar player is what I wanted to be.

They’re both the same thing and they both have different voices that I equally love. I feel like you can’t really express yourself fully with either, they both have a different voice. I love playing electric in the band but when I’m home I’d rather play acoustic.


When did you decide to take TJ’s talent of singing and your talent of guitar playing and put them together to form Brothers Osborne? Why did you decide that country music was the genre you were going to pursue?

It wasn’t something that we did. It wasn’t like an idea or a concept. Long story short, I was in a different band than TJ was for years. He was off doing his own thing. He and I were writing quite a lot at the time and we started playing some shows together, but not as Brothers Osborne, just to get our songs out. Out of nowhere people started showing up. A publisher got interested and asked if we wanted to work with him and we said absolutely. Few months went by and out of nowhere labels wanted us to do shows and before you know it we got two record deals. But, it all happened naturally.

It’s what we grew up listening to. We grew up in southern Anne Arundel County. That school [Southern High School] is pretty much surrounded by farms. It’s what everyone listened to growing up. We did our first radio tour because everyone thought there wasn’t country music in Maryland and we didn’t know there wasn’t supposed to be. If you were in our household, it was mostly old country, ’90s country, and classic rock. That was predominantly what we listened to.


Tell me a little more about another one of your hits, “Rum,” which was filmed in your hometown of Deale, MD. What were you hoping for people to get out of this song?

We wrote it with Barry Dean. I think a typical route a country singer would go would be to sing a song about being on the ocean, the island, or a Jimmy Buffet type song. We didn’t grow up around that, we grew up on the bay being in Southern Maryland and we wanted to write a song that represented where we come from, not having much, but still being able to party like you’re at the beach. The reason we filmed at Deale was to show the country music listeners where we come from. It’s our own brand of country, but it’s still country.


What was your favorite part about growing up in Deale, MD?

I have to say the people. The people are my favorite thing about Deale. We traveled all over this country more times than we can count and we met some really incredible people, but still to this day our favorite people are in Deale and Southern Maryland. They’re just real honest and shoot you straight, no one is hiding anything. I think in a time where there’s a huge lack of honesty, especially given the media and politics and all things commercial, it’s refreshing to have a healthy dose of honesty. You’ll get that in Deale. They are the most real people you’ll meet in your life.


Where did the inspiration come from for the song “Stay a Little Longer” and did you ever think it would reach the level of popularity it has now? What does it feel like hearing your song on the radio?

We wrote that song with Shane McAnally. It was hard getting in with him. Our rights kept getting cancelled and it almost didn’t happen. We had a short period of time to write it. We left and that was it. We thought it was a cool song and didn’t think too much of it. We’re writing so much it’s hard to focus on one song at a time. We listened to it a couple days later and thought it sounded cool. Then we demoed it and it came to life. We started playing it at our shows and realized that song had impact. Initially, I don’t think any of us realized the impact it would soon have.

It’s wild. I don’t think it would get old for any artist. I think every artist likes that feeling. It’s a reminder that you’re doing something right. You tend to forget sometimes because you work really hard and rarely do you get a chance to stop and smell the roses. Hearing your song on the radio is definitely one of those moments.

Photo Credit: Jim Wright

 

What are you looking forward to most during your first ever tour, Dirt Rich Tour?

This will be the first time we toured for an audience that’s exclusively our own. We’ve been very fortunate enough to open up for artists like Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Little Big Town, etc. and it’s really amazing, but this time we get to play for people that are our fans. We noticed people are singing the words to album cuts. It’s an amazing feeling, being out here playing shows, to hear our fans singing the words to our songs.


Let’s talk about your newest single released from your debut album, Pawn Shop, “21 Summer.” It definitely has a different sound from some of your other songs. Why did you decide to take a different direction with this song?

We wanted to show the country music listeners that our song writing, producing, and our music has a wide spectrum. If you put out the same stuff every time, you’re not putting out a proper representation of who you are. We wanted to take people on a different journey. “21 Summer” is one of the first songs we wrote when we signed our publishing deal. We knew we had something special with that one.


What are you hoping to accomplish in the country music world?

Just to carve our own path. I think everyone measures success differently. Some people measure it with chart positions, some measure it with money, all those things are obviously great, but I think success to us is being able to succeed with being truthful and honest and not following trends and money. When our songs are played on the radio it’s an amazing feeling because we did it with as much integrity as we had. That, to me, is greater than any amount of money or anything.

Photo Credit: Jim Wright

 

What are some of your favorite things to do while in your downtime?

We have no lives. That’s all we do. It’s tough because our hobby has become our career. Usually when we go to a town, we like to walk around and eat at good restaurants and talk to the locals. We love shopping at pawn shops, vintage clothing stores, just getting out and seeing the world. We have an amazing opportunity out here so we need to take advantage of it.


What’s next for Brothers Osborne?

At the moment, besides touring extensively, we’re writing a lot. We spend every moment that we have at home and writing. Hopefully sometime in the beginning of the year we’ll get back in the studio and get the creative gears moving again for our second record.

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