Don’t get them confused with the Osborne Brothers, the popular bluegrass group from the 60s and 70s. The Brothers Osborne, T.J. and John, offer an original approach to country music, infusing their songs with adlibs and guitar solos. The siblings chemistry is undeniable and the pair won Vocal Duo of the Year at the 2016 CMA Awards. We spoke with John about coming to Raleigh, classical music and how they got their name.
It’s been a big year for you.
Yes, 2016 has been by and far the biggest year of our professional lives. Pawn Shop came out at the beginning of the year, and “Stay a Little Longer” went to number one on the country charts. Fast forward to [November], we got the CMA award for Vocal Duo of the Year. That same day “Stay a Little Longer” went platinum. It’s been a huge year but it’s come with a lot of work. It’s been a long road getting here.
Being brothers, does it make it easier or harder?
It makes it easier. We can literally say three words and get something done in the amount of time it would take to have an entire discussion with people. We have this collective consciousness because we’ve been so close our entire lives. We’ll have our moments when we bicker like brothers, but it lasts for five minutes. We grab a beer and it’s all good.
Did you have formal musical instruction growing up?
Our dad played guitar, and he taught us a couple chords and a scale. Our mom also played and she would give us these songbooks and we would learn from that. But we studied upright bass, and I eventually went to college for [it].
Do you still play?
No, I got to a point where I was so busy on guitar. I liked to play classical music, but I didn’t love it as much as I loved playing blues, rock ‘n roll and country music.
Do you play together as a family?
Sometime when we get back home for the holidays, usually around Christmas, we’ll pick up a couple of guitars and sing songs. Unfortunately, it’s fewer and further between because T.J. and I have been so busy. When we get home, we just want to sleep.
When you come through Raleigh, do you have time to experience the city?
Our first objective is to find a really cool breakfast spot. We’re not big fans of corporate chains, and we like cool local spots. Sometimes it doesn’t permit because we’re stuck on the bus, but we usually try to make it out and about. We’ve been to Raleigh and we love it. It’s kind of a hidden gem.
Any favorite places you like to visit in Raleigh?
Last time we were in Raleigh, there was a breakfast place, The Morning Times. It was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. I still think about it daily.
Our next big step is to write for our second record. We might be in the studio for a little bit, hashing out some songs.
What can fans expect at your concert?
Our music is left of center, and I think our fans expect a show that is left of center. It’s not just song after song. There are a lot of guitar solos, a lot of musical moments that will only happen at one particular show. We want it to be a magical experience and have every show be different.
Any memorable moments recently?
We sold out the Fillmore Silver Spring in Maryland, which is our home state. It was a very memorable moment for us… to show up and play a packed house and see all these people, new faces and faces that supported us since we were teenagers. It was so overwhelming. It was quite an emotional experience.
What is something fans might not know about you?
My brother’s name is Thomas John and my name is John Thomas. The same name flipped. The story goes my mom was pregnant with my brother, and she says to my dad who is also John, “John, we need to name this boy.” He was watching the Redskins VS the Eagles game. He said, “Not right now, honey, I’m trying to watch the football game.” She said, “Fine, if you don’t want to do this we’ll just switch John’s name and call him Thomas John. My dad said, ‘I love it, and it never got changed.’”