Brothers Osborne Interview: TJ + John Talk Rum, Crushes and the 18-Inch Adam’s Apple
Rum is truly an underrepresented liquor in country music. There are enough beer songs to play to the moon and back, and everyone knows whiskey makes your baby feel a little frisky. Brothers Osborne are proud to champion life's more tropical liquor in one of five songs on their new 'Brothers Osborne' EP.
"The funny thing is, since we’ve had this song out there," TJ Osborne tells Taste of Country, "there’s been a lot of rum references lately. But I think also just the liquor itself is becoming popular."
Full disclosure: you'll find plenty of whiskey aboard the B.O. tour bus, but the clean-shaven, dark-haired half of this sibling duo admits, “The first time I’ve ever got stupid drunk was on rum."
It came really early, and in fact, I think all of middle school I had a really deep voice," TJ says. "My Adam’s apple stuck out like a foot and a half, it was really crazy.
The song -- and TJ's voice -- are what separate the band from other duos on country radio, although John's thick red beard and skillful playing of every instrument with strings is as impressive. He seriously plays something called a "bojatar." That's part banjo, part dobro, part guitar -- the turducken of music instruments.
TJ's voice isn't his only instrument, but that's what people notice first. It's deep and gnarly. Close your eyes to hear him sing 'La Grange' by ZZ Top and you'll be convinced that's Billy Gibbons grunting out the "A haw haw haw" part. Puberty was challenging, he admits.
"I will definitely say if there is any level of cool that I have now it was not existent (then)," the singer says.
"It came really early, and in fact, I think all of middle school I had a really deep voice," the older of the two brothers says. "My Adam’s apple stuck out like a foot and a half, it was really crazy. In fact, there was one time I remember I got in trouble at school and I was able to get home in time to catch the phonecall to my dad, and I picked up the phone and they thought it was my dad they were talking to. And I was like, ‘I’ll have a chat with him.’ It was amazing. I was like 12 years old."
John Osborne's bushy beard came later, beginning with a little chin hair at Belmont University in 2002. "Then I would get kind of creative," he remembers. "I had these massive chops, mutton chops. And then somehow along the way, the mutton chops grew into chin hair and it was bad after that.”
'Rum' is one of five songs on an EP that swings wildly from rowdy to vulnerable. 'Shoot From the Hip' has a gunslinger mentality they say, while 'Love the Lonely Out of You' is little more than the two of them picking and singing. You'll find their influences are just as wide-ranging. The men love country and rock, but also Lee Ann Womack (John has a "massive crush" on her, he spills).
A family band called Deuce and a Quarter was their first real taste of a serious career in the music business. That was the two boys and their dad, and maybe their sister if she was game for singing a Dixie Chicks song with them from time to time. The whole family was constantly picking and strumming. Cousins, uncles ... everyone would play along during family events in Deale, MD.
"Our mom and dad would sit around the house singing songs and they would write songs as well, so we were around it all the time, pretty much as far back as walking," John dishes.
Fans might not hear the country influences in every song Brothers Osborne sing, but these boys from the coast are truck-lovin', beer-sippin' cowboys, just without the hats. “We grew up as country and redneck as anyone else," John says, "but what we want to speak of lyrically isn’t necessarily all about that.”
Need proof? Check out the below picture of the family truck, passed on from Dad to TJ to John. Brothers Osborne say it hasn't seen a carwash in about eight years, but it's true to their personality.
“I don’t feel right driving a small car,” John adds. Really, could you imagine someone with that much hair driving anything else?
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