Interview: John Osborne talks about touring with friends in the UK, his UK fans and more

Country Music Association’s Vocal Duo of The Year – Brothers Osborne returned to the UK last month after a steller perfomance at London’s C2C Festival in March.

John and TJ Osborne returned as supporters for The Cadillac Three’s Long Hair Don’t Care Tour which has become the gig of the year for many and with those two performers, it is easy to see why.

I caught up with John Osborne as he landed home in the US and discussed his UK tour. John was incredibly friendly and easy to talk to, I hope you enjoy our chat.

“…the first song in, everyone sang all the words back and every song that went by they were singing – even the songs that weren’t singles, they sang along to those too, and we were like, ‘Wait! What’s going on here?

Hi John, how are you?

I am good, thank you.

A very warm welcome back to the UK – that’s twice this year, we feel very lucky. Firstly, how was C2C? How was the experience of your first ever UK show – and at the O2 as well?

To be honest, we were a little bit skeptical about coming over. We had no idea that anyone really knew who we were and we thought we were going to show up to a crowd who had no idea what our music was about and bore them to tears for thirty minutes. But the first song in, everyone sang all the words back and every song that went by they were singing – even the songs that weren’t singles, they sang along to those too, and we were like, ‘Wait! What’s going on here?’ So we then found out that the UK has some of the best audiences in the world that actually listen and care and sing back to you. After that moment of playing C2C we were sold.

You were the highlight for many people and, like you said, we know every word to every song, even if it is not a single. After the 02 you played a sold out show at The Dingwalls. How long after that did you think, ’Right, we have to come back’ – and now that you are , what made you decide to come with The Cadillac Three?

We have been trying to tour with TC3 for years now; they are some of our favourite people and also one of our favourite bands. We tried for a couple of years now to get a tour together in the US, but the schedules have never worked. Then strangely, our schedules aligned perfectly for a tour in the UK. The timing of it was perfect and we love those guys, they have done so well in the UK; they have a big following and they also play music that we love. When they asked us to come over, we didn’t think twice about it, you know? We couldn’t have said ‘Yes’ faster. It was a no brainer.

 

“As kids we had a family band with our dad called Deuce and A Quarter and we just played bars in our home town.”

How was the tour, because you had a full house of fans, proving that you could have sold out your own tour?

Yeah, again, it exceeded our expectations, just like C2C did – we had nothing to go on but some twitter and social media presence. We didn’t know what to expect but again, the fans were singing along to all the songs and it reinforced the fact that we want to come back as soon as possible.

Well, as you and The Cadillac Three are both amazing and much loved artists, I think this tour has almost been seen as a double headliner.

What’s been pretty cool about this tour is that you are over here with your lovely wife Lucie Silvas who is doing her own tour with Charlie Worsham, but your friends Maren and Ryan were also here – and then we had Thomas Rhett and Old Dominion, so Nashville certainly came to the UK those two weeks! Maren said the other day, that you have seen each more this trip than you have in a long time as, despite living nearby, all of you have various shows all over, so miss each other.

That is so true. She had a day off in London which, as luck would have it, was the day that we played the Forum. Then just a couple of days later, she and Ryan said ‘Hey man, we are all in Birmingham.’ and I asked, ‘What, do you have a day off?’. She replied, ‘No, we’re playing’. They were playing just a couple of miles away from where we were on the same night, which just kind of blows my mind that we had to go all the way to the UK to hang out with each other, because we don’t have time to here, haha!

The name Brothers Osborne is pretty self explanatory – but as brothers, did you always plan or want to be in a band together or were there times when you had separate musical goals or creative differences, before you realised you worked best together?

When we first started playing music as kids we had a family band with our dad called Deuce and A Quarter and we just played bars in our home town. We played cover songs and originals and then when we moved to Nashville, we split up and did our own thing. I actually joined a band called King Billy with Charlie Worsham and TJ was doing his own thing as well – but throughout the whole time we were still playing shows together and writing a lot together. We never intentionally parted ways creatively, we were always in some ways together and when the band ended, he and I carried on playing shows around Nashville. We were writing even more and it just kind of took off with a life of its own; it wasn’t really by some kind of grand design, it just happened naturally.

You both moved to Nashville in the early 2000’s – is that right? I believe you signed a publishing deal, so were you songwriting for years before releasing music as artists?

That is correct, yes.

Describe a typical day of co-songwriting. Do you find it easier writing with your brother and people you know or with people you don’t know well personally?

Yeah, it’s literally a different animal everyday. You can show up and the song sort of writes itself and then other days you really have to work at it. I would say that these days we prefer writing with people we are comfortable with, just because we have very little time lately to write and we want to make sure that we are using that time effectively. We have a few people we just love writing with and have a really great time writing with, and fit our style creatively -but every day is a different thing. Sometimes you show up with a hook, sometimes you show up with a guitar riff and sometimes you show up and just talk for three hours. I would say the most important thing, though, in any creative process, is that it needs to come naturally; if you have to force it, it’s usually not right.

Pawn Shop is your official debut release and is pretty damn amazing. What has been the biggest challenge in the process of the album before or after its release – and did it meet all your expectations?

I think it’s important to have healthy expectations, but not too many. I think the key to happiness is having little to no expectations and just living your life and creating what you can. All we did with Pawn Shop was that we recorded a collection of stuff we had written in years past that we liked and had fun playing – and that was it. We would have loved to have sold ten million copies, like anyone would, but with albums you just have to put them out there and see what happens and not over think it; just get out there and start touring and get the music played in front of people. I will say that we are extremely proud of the record and what it has done for us and the trajectory it has put us on. It wasn’t an immediate overnight thing; it was kind of like a slow burn record, then it took off and grew in popularity – which I prefer. I think it’s a healthy way of going about it.

You released It Ain’t My Fault as a single. Tell us about the idea behind the video for It Ain’t My Fault and did you have all the input?

TJ and I are pretty hands on with all of the ideas but the director sent us that idea and it was pretty much finished. I wish I could take credit for it, but really it was Wes Edwards’ and Ryan Silvers’ baby, from beginning to end – they came up with every little thing and it was so good that we didn’t want to get in the way of it. It will probably forever be one of our favourite music videos.

It won a CMA too, so congratulations!

Yeah, thanks. Yeah, especially considering we took a gamble with creating a video based around political satire and it’s such a hot button issue right now; we took a risk and it paid off.

You have won quite a few awards including CMA for Vocal Duo and have been nominated for many, including a Grammy – congratulations – over the last couple of years, which is fantastic.

Thank you

The Brits can take a lot of credit for showing the US how good that music is, because we kind of overlooked it until guys like Zeppelin and Clapton picked it up and started playing it.”

What were your influences growing up, because you seem to have a lot of blues in your guitar playing?

Yeah, I grew up with a lot of blues music and that’s my favourite genre to play – a lot of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan; I love the Allman Brothers and guys like that. The Brits can take a lot of credit for showing the US how good that music is, because we kind of overlooked it until guys like Zeppelin and Clapton picked it up and started playing it. Blues music is intertwined in every genre of music and should be respected.

You are returning in May, which we cannot wait for, which will be headline dates too. What can we expect ? New music?

We recorded some tunes and it’s very much about us and the way that we have evolved since Pawn Shop. It’s a statement we want to make as artists; we’re really proud of the music that we make and can’t wait for you to hear it next year. We did a little bit on this tour – we played a song called Shoot Me Straight and it went over really well, so when we come over in May it will hopefully be around the time that our record will be coming out.

and will Lucie be coming along too?

We don’t know yet – we have to look at scheduling. We would love for her to come with us, because she sings LeAnn Womack’s part of Loving Me Back at our shows and kills it every time. You will have to wait and see on that one.

I am a huge fan of Lucie, do you write together often?

Yeah we do. When we get home from a long day of writing we just wanna be husband and wife and relax with our dog, but every once in a while if one of us has an itch for it, we will sit down and write some tunes. There is a song on her new record that she just recorded that we wrote together with our friend Kate York.

Oh, I like her.

Do you have a favourite song off Lucie’s Letters To Ghosts Album? Or any of her music?

Oh man, that’s a tough one! I will say there’s a song on her new record called Everything That’s Beautiful which not many people have heard yet, but it’s not only one of my favourite songs she’s done but it’s also one of my most favourite songs I have ever heard. It’s so good, the melody is amazing and she sings the hell out of it.

As you are now a part of the UK country scene in many ways. What is your knowledge of UK Country artists, other than Lucie of course, because I am a big supporter of your friend Twinnie.

Oh yeah, Twinnie has been coming in and out town – she has just left, having been here for a while. She works really hard – a really driven individual and deserves all the success coming her way, for sure.

Have you had any bucket list moments?

Oh man, everything from winning CMA Awards, to ACM Awards, travelling the world, Grammy nomination, recording music with LeAnn Womack on our record, playing with some of our favourite Country artists of all time, debut at the Opry – the list goes on and on. I feel very very grateful for all those opportunities and all those moments of my life, because my brother and I have worked years and years to get here, and we certainly don’t take any of it for granted.

It certainly shows and we love your music and your shows and look forward to staying on this journey with you.

Thank you so much for talking to me today, I look forward to seeing you in May.

Thank you so much for your time.

Brothers Osborne return to the UK in May 2018 – grab tickets here

Purchase Pawn Shop by Brothers Osborne here

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