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T.J. Osborne Brothers Osborne interview

We talk to one half of the duo about their recent UK shows, new music and more.

Brothers Osborne
Credit: EMI Nashville

Brothers Osborne were in the UK last month supporting The Cadillac Three on tour.

John and T.J. have seen their popularity quickly rise on this side of the pond following their outstanding performance at C2C: Country to Country back in March. Their debut album Pawn Shop has been picking up plenty of acclaim and the duo recently won their second consecutive Vocal Duo of the Year award at the CMAs.

I caught up with T.J. following the band’s recent live shows to find out what their experience with their UK fans was like, discuss new music and look back on the amazing success the duo has had.

You recently toured here in the UK with The Cadillac Three. What was that tour like for you?

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We’ve known those guys for years now and we’ve been trying to tour with them for years as well. It’s kinda funny that it took going to another country to finally make that happen. We loved it and we had a great time. I think there are a lot of similarities between our crowds so us playing together made a lot of sense. They’re good dudes and they were good to us. Their crew and everyone treated us with much respect.

The audience was pretty loud and pretty rowdy. Did you feed off that energy while you were performing on stage?

Yeah! For us a lot of times it’s not always the size of the crowd that makes it fun. You can play for a couple of hundred people or you can play for 20,000 people and get the same level of intensity out of the crowd. Playing there in that room even though there were a couple of thousand people or so, it gave me the same energy as playing The O2 Arena. It’s hard to explain and nothing can really match that. They definitely were a great, great crowd and I think a lot of the time the audience doesn’t realize how much they change the show and how much they have to do with how it goes that night. I thought that night was spectacular all around.

You’ve worked really hard to build your UK fanbase. What is it that you love about coming to the U.K.?

I think the fans are really, really great. I don’t know if it’s because what we do is kind of a newer thing over there but that it really feels fun and appreciated. Some of the places here in the States they get so much music that they get burned out or just don’t appreciate it as much. I’m generalising because there are areas here that are fantastic. The crowd (in the U.K.) are rowdy when you want them to be rowdy and they listen when you want them to listen. It’s just perfect and performing is the funnest thing to do. Interacting with the crowd is more fun than the money or any of that jazz.

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You’ll be coming back to the U.K. for a tour in May. Can we expect a new album before then?

I think we’ll be releasing our new record right around then. We don’t have a launch date but we’re hoping to release it right around the time we return so hopefully we can return with some new music and the fans will know it.

During your shows here you’ve been performing Shoot Me Straight, which you announced as your new single. When can we expect that to be released?

I don’t know when we’re planning on releasing it as a single there. There’s always some different timelines of how things lay out there as they do here. We’re going to be releasing it as a single here in the States in January. I can’t recall the specific day but then I would hope either at the same time I’m sure there will be a single (in the UK) as well.

Brothers Osborne

Credit: EMI Nashville

You’ve been touring your first album Pawn Shop for quite a while now. Are you looking forward to being able to get your new music out and to play some new songs?

Oh yeah, always! A lot of times before you’ve released your record you’ve already finished it long before you’ve released it. I think very shortly after every band has released a record, they want to release another. It’s been almost two years or so since we’ve released Pawn Shop. We’ve gotten a lot of great mileage out of it and some really great acclaim, nominations and awards, and also have been able to turn it into a success in the U.K. Now we’re just looking to expand upon it. We’re traveling over the U.K. to get to the point where we can turn clubs into theatres and turn theatres into arenas and arenas into stadiums so you need music to do that.

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You mentioned awards just now. Recently you picked up your second consecutive Vocal Duo of the Year award at the CMA Awards. What’s your view on awards? Do they matter or do you consider them nice to have?

It’s a huge honour to get one of these awards. This is something I’ve wanted for a long time and something I dreamed of doing. I think ultimately, more than anything, it just puts a big gust of wind in your sails. John and I have always done things our own way and it’s been slower for us. There’s people that have done some of the really cheap tricks to have success, you know the more pandering side of things. We’ve always just stayed true to us and kept our nose to the grind. I think that award was just saying this was worth it. We got that award, not off having amazing amounts of monetary success, but because people were giving us the tip of the hat for doing it and building it the hard way.

You’ve got a Platinum single under your belt now and It Ain’t My Fault is still burning up the charts. What’s it like to be achieving these certifications?

It’s great because usually if a Platinum record is involved you’re getting some pretty nice pay checks (laughs). It’s crazy. Along with the awards, everyone dreams of having Platinum records and having sold-out shows. Those are your wildest dream marks and then what happened it was like, ‘wow!’. I think more than anything we just try to turn it into inspiration for other artists out there that are working their asses off and are struggling because me and my brother did it for years and years. At times it really felt like we had what it took to make some great music and have some success but at the same time in the back of your head you’re thinking, ‘at what point in time do I move on?’ For most real musicians you can’t really because it’s always there.

We just stuck to it and eventually it worked. For those artists out there that are aspiring to have success now, I think it would be a shock to them how close they are. You’re always right there and it just takes one big break and then it can really change your life.

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You wrote the song The Breaker, which was recorded by Little Big Town and they named their album after it. How did that song find its way into their hands?

You know I’m not sure to be honest with you. That song was out there and my publisher had a copy of it. It just got played around. Some of the songs in Nashville are kind of underground stuff, so to speak. They get circulated around and there are some songs that get pitched to an artist to see if they would cut it.

There’s also some songs that roll around where its word of mouth. That song was handed around a bunch and I’m not sure who specifically played it but it led to Karen Fairchild hearing it. We were at the Grammys a couple of years ago and she pulled me aside and said, ‘man I just heard your song on the flight out here and I’m obsessed with it’. She said she thought they may want to cut it, which at that time I was like, ‘OK, that’s awesome. I’m excited’ but everyone knows that in any any business but particularly music, a lot of times you get your hopes up and it doesn’t happen the way that you thought it was going to happen. I thought it was cool but I kept my expectations in check. They have a lot of people trying to get them to cut songs. I heard from one of their bandmates that they cut the song and a few months later I ran into Karen and she told me they were going to title the record after it. It was a very high honour.

Are you going to get any down time to enjoy the holiday season this year?

We hosted Thanksgiving at my house this year. For Christmas, this will be the first year that my brother and I have hosted Christmas in Nashville. Usually we go back home to our home state of Maryland to see all of our family but we’ve done that for many years now. Now that things are getting kinda crazy, it’ll be nice to have the family come here and I’m so excited.

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Brothers Osborne return to the UK in May 2018 for a headline tour.


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