“We’d both rather fail and be ourselves than succeed and be somebody else,” says John Osborne. As one half of the Grammy-nominated duo Brothers Osborne, John has helped bring guitar-heavy country-rock back into the mainstream, ignoring the country genre’s pop-leaning trends in the process. He joins brother T.J. as a guest on this week’s episode of Walking the Floor, whose host – songwriter, solo artist and Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett – is more than happy to geek out with them over hotshot instrumentalists and history-making solos.
Listen to the podcast’s world premiere below, and follow along with our round-up of highlights.
T.J. and John have already completed their follow-up to Pawn Shop. . .but that hasn’t stopped the brothers from continuing to write more material.
“We like to write a lot,” says T.J. “For us, it’s a nice mixture of recording, performing, and creating. It can get a little heavy on the performing side, which is great. We love it. But what puts wind in our sails, and what makes even the live performances better, is when we can get our rocks off in the other areas we love.” Brother John Osborne agrees, adding, “You gotta get it when you can get it. We don’t get a lot of time off. . .so our time off consists of writing.”
When it came time to record their sophomore album with Jay Joyce, the band headed to the beach.
“[Jay] hates when people tell us this, because he doesn’t want people to know he has a beach house, so we went down there,” says T.J., remembering the album’s sunny recording sessions in Port St. Joe, Florida. “It was a really cool place. We just shacked up. It wasn’t set up for recording. We just sat in a room, with shit slung around everywhere, and no isolation. And that’s where we made the record.” The best part? Faced with a lack of nightlife options, the guys stayed in every night, listening to music and playing guitars. “The fun thing to do – the entertainment – was playing,” T.J. adds. “It wasn’t, ‘Oh, we went to the studio and then we went home that night and hung out with our friends, and fucked off, and came back and had to turn it back on.’ We just sat there and jammed at night. You’d get fucking ripped and then listen to music.”
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Before launching Brothers Osborne, John played in a band with fellow country star Charlie Worsham.
“I was in a band for awhile with a couple musicians,” he remembers. “They lived in the house across the street from us, and we just jammed. I mean, five times a week, we were over there getting stoned and playing music all night. It was a band called KingBilly. Charlie Worsham was in the band. Incredible musician. We traveled the country, and TJ and I wrote quite a few songs for that band.” When KingBilly eventually called it quits, the Osborne siblings continued playing songs together, occasionally showcasing them with live shows. The shows picked up, and Brothers Osborne was – ahem – born.
If you like the lengthy guitar solo in “Stay a Little Longer,” you’re in luck. The Osbornes plan on keeping that sound at the forefront of their new music.
“We’re trying to bring that back,” John says of the band’s guitar-heavy approach. “There’s this misnomer that a song’s gotta be three minutes and thirty seconds. But at one point, people went apeshit for ‘Freebird’ and ‘Hotel California,’ you know?” Elsewhere in the conversation, he adds, “It’s kind of like the new rock is country. A lot of rock musicians play country music now, because it’s a lot of big rock guitars. And we love it, because we love old country music, and we also love old rock music. For us, it’s two of our favorite kinds of music, mashed into one.”
For John Osborne, the guitar is more than an instrument.
“Honestly, I genuinely believe this: I feel like the guitar saved my life as a kid,” he says. “I was lost as shit. I didn’t really have a lot of friends when I was younger. I didn’t know who I was. . . And guitar was my safe haven. Guitar was my escape. It gave me a purpose. I feel like I owe something to that. I feel like it’s my duty to kind of give that to the world. I feel like I owe that to all the people that came before us. I feel like we’re passing that torch on. Don’t let it die! It’s not fucking dead!”