Whirlwind success punctuated with constant touring, a deluge of award nominations and a Billboard Top 20 debut album seems like the kind of thing that could go to a person’s head. But in the case of country duo Brothers Osborne, it’s what fuels their feverish work ethic.
TJ and John Osborne’s soulful vocals and adept guitar riffs hit the mainstream airwaves on their debut LP, Pawn Shop. The 2016 project garnered them Grammy nominations for hit singles “Stay a Little Longer” and “21 Summer,” along with two two 2017 Academy of Country Music Awards for Vocal Duo of the Year and New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year.
Last year, the brothers, who hail from the quaint fishing town of Deale, Maryland, reconnected with the familiar coastal simplicity when recording their sophomore full-length album, Port Saint Joe. Named for the Florida panhandle town, they recorded the album in a nondescript, oceanside home owned by the group’s producer with waves crashing in the background. The album drops on April 20, which aligns with the informal cannabis holiday—likely no accident as the duo have a proclivity for the plant.
Prior to the album’s release and this year’s ACM Awards (April 15) where the pair are up for two awards, Brothers Osborne will headline the FRYEDAYS music series at Zappos HQ. At 4 p.m. on Friday, April 13, at the Zappos and Frye co-sponsored event, the duo will showcase their honest sound for the live audience Downtown as well as the livestream on Zappos.com.
Vegas Seven caught up with TJ to talk about how the pair stay grounded, their weirdest pawn shop find and cannabis’ role in their creative process.
Port Saint Joe displays a mature sound. How do you think you’ve grown personally since Pawn Shop?
In Port Saint Joe, you can hear that we’re really starting to figure it out and be confident in what we’re doing. You’re always evolving as a person. It takes time to grow and have confidence in yourself, regardless of anything else going on in your life. Now that we’ve won some awards and saw a little bit of success, we just do what we’ve always done and make music. This isn’t supposed to be serious; it’s supposed to be a fun process.
You recorded Port Saint Joe in a coastal home. How was working outside of a typical studio?
It wasn’t the beach as much as simply being out of Nashville. Tensions tend to arise in the studio from time to time, and it was nice to be able to walk outside and be at the beach. It defuses situations pretty quickly.
The biggest things is we were surrounded by a lot of the people that we’d be performing the music to ultimately. Port Saint Joe reminds me a lot of where we’re from, a paradise where people don’t even realize where they are. They know it’s beautiful,but when you’re there every day, you don’t think about it. Same thing for our hometown. We thought, these people that are down on the street, would they listen to this [album]? Is this something they would want to listen to on their patio while watching the waves crash? It helped us simplify the thought process a little more.
Your success has no doubt moved you away from your blue-collar hometown. How do you stay connected to your roots?
We have a big family and we’re still really close with where we come from. Ultimately, we have seen a lot of success, but I don’t feel any different. I feel like I’m the same guy I was before any of this took off. I think it keeps you grounded to have your family there to constantly bring you down to earth. They call me out really quick.
What is the touring life like?
We are in a bus. A lot of times, we’ll load up at midnight and wake up and bounce. It depends where we are—we may go out, if we’re close to the town. We’ll get out, go to pawn shops or music stores or antique stores. Maybe go find a diner, get breakfast. Try to submerge ourselves in that town for the day.
What can Las Vegas fans expect from your live show?
Well, we’re trying to showcase our new record, Port Saint Joe, but at the same time we know there are some songs of ours that our fans want to hear, so I think it’ll be a bit of mix. There will be songs that we haven’t played live to very many people. We’ll do that to showcase the new album. We’ll touch on the crowd favorites, too. Our main focus is to put on a fun and entertaining show.
While you’re in the pawn shop capital, are you going to make time to hit up a few?
[Laughs] You know, it’s funny. We’ve been in Vegas, but I have yet to go to a pawn shop. I still have that to check off my list. Things are crazy and we have no time, but maybe I’ll find some this trip.
What’s the weirdest purchase you’ve ever made at a pawn shop?
I bought a little taxidermied mouse that was dressed up like he was a sheriff stepping out of a saloon. We bought that and he was on our bus for a long time. It was really, really weird and one of the funniest-looking things.
You are very honest about consuming cannabis. How big of a role does it play in your creative process?
[Laughs] You know, I don’t know. It certainly does. It definitely helped down in Port Saint Joe, I’ll tell you that. [It helps with] not taking life too seriously or overthinking things. And just relaxing. It’s weird because you can make music that when you’re drinking it seems slow, and you get stoned and it seems fast. I think this record is one you can listen to and hopefully with either state of mind, it still resonates.
April 13, 4 p.m., 21+, Zappos HQ, 400 Stewart Ave., brothersosborne.com